5 Tips to Dominate your Accounting Interview

Attention all students suffering from sleepless nights due to interview phobia

Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/joshme17

Consider these 5 tips your cost-effective alternative to cure insomnia!  In all seriousness, remember that you already got the interview and you are 100% qualified for the job.  They want you to succeed!

Know this:  almost everyone is intimidated, almost everyone is nervous and almost everyone else is also probably suffering from SHS (sweaty-hand syndrome)…so you aren’t the only one.

Be confident, smile, take a deep breath, look people in the eye… and you will absolutely dominate your interview.

5 Tips to Domination

1) The little things count.

Don’t show up late to your interview…duh. But don’t show up 30 minutes early, either. This puts pressure on the recruiting team to speed up their preparation which can be an unnecessary burden. Five to ten minutes early is ideal.

Show up with additional copies of your resume in a padfolio that you can share with the interviewer.

Bring a pen and don’t be afraid to take notes!

Email a thank you note. The sooner you can get your note to the interviewer, the sooner they can incorporate that fact into their evaluation. Also, in your thank you note, try to highlight a specific thought or attribute that was discussed to make it more personal (if you didn’t receive our email – ‘how to write a professional thank you note’ – shoot us a quick note and we’ll send it over to you!)

2) Professionalism matters.

For better or worse, your professional appearance and attitude will set the tone for your interview. So much of the interview is out of your control, so let’s nail everything that you CAN control.

While Mark Zuckerberg may hire you in your sweat pants, most professional firms would more likely call security than offer you a job if you showed up in your jam jams. So check out this link for some helpful professional fashion tips. Plus, while it pains me to say this as a bearded man, guys should be clean shaven.

Also, don’t be this person: “I mean, I barely studied and got an A. Had our biggest party of the year the night before and still aced it. Just trying to cruise, haha.”

I like partying. I like good grades. But comments like this imply that you aren’t taking your opportunity seriously. You want your great achievements to reflect your hard-work, determination and interest in the subject matter.

Instead be this person: “I worked really hard to get that A; I found the subject matter to be interesting and relevant to my professional goals.”

3) Don’t discount your experience.

So you rolled burritos for 20 hours a week during the school year. Or you organized the Guinness World Record for the largest human flower ever recorded. When I was going through the process, I thought ‘who cares’?!…if it doesn’t have to do with the job you’re applying for, or if it doesn’t seem like a polished, professional extracurricular activity, it just doesn’t matter, right? WRONG.

Never downplay your experience regardless of how trivial you may think it is. Yeah, you won’t be adding sour cream to an excel file during your internship, but you will have to demonstrate a strong work-ethic, communicate within a team and interact with your client.

And sure, you won’t be getting your co-workers to set the next Guinness World Record, but you will be expected to be organized, socially aware and to demonstrate the characteristics of a leader.

Your college education gives you the foundation to succeed at the next level, but your real training will come once you get there. The firms invest gazillions to make sure you have all of the resources to succeed. They are way more focused on getting the right person than getting someone with ‘industry experience’. It’s your personal experiences that can tell an employer way more about you than you even realize.

Whatever you’ve done, figure out how it helped you develop as a future professional and own it with pride.

4) Study yourself.

The extra time you spend reflecting on your noteworthy experiences can be the perfect crutch to aid you through a fantastic interview. You will be asked pointed questions about the specifics of the resume – be prepared to talk in depth about every item on the document. But you will also potentially be asked a question from way out in left field – the more you’ve actively thought about your experiences, the better off you’ll be.

For instance, what if the interviewer asks you to name your greatest weakness.

Example of an average response: “Well, I’d have to say that I’m a bit unorganized. I sometimes have a tendency to leave off important details but it hasn’t been a huge problem to date.”

Example of a great response: “Well, I have a natural tendency to be unorganized. However, I’ve recognized that and have worked to greatly improve my organization. As an example, as noted on my resume, I successfully ran for Treasurer of my sorority. To improve my organizational skills, I created a spreadsheet that detailed every committee within the sorority, their budgeted funds and the overall financial position of the sorority. I then set calendar reminders to prompt me to reconcile the budget to actual dollar spend and perform follow-up if necessary. As a result, the sorority came in under budget this year due to the timeliness and accuracy of my team’s work.”

In general, it’s a great exercise to research common behavioral questions to brainstorm some possible answers to use in an interview. The more comfortable you are with your resume (and your experience), the more polished you will appear, leading to a great interview.

Check out the top 10 most common behavioral interview questions.

5) Go from interviewee to interviewer.

No one loves to hear themselves talk more than the person interviewing you – not even Donald Trump. Ok, maybe Donald Trump. But in all seriousness, the interviewer expects you to ask him or her questions during the interview. This should happen in two phases – 1) during the interview and 2) during the last 5 minutes.

Be an active listener.  Active listening is the key to ask unrehearsed, pointed questions that will help demonstrate your cognitive ability.  Create a conversation within an interview.  Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or to ask about the connection of what the interviewer said to what you learned in class.

Research is key – industry, firm, economic, social, etc. The greater your preparation, the more impressive you will seem to the interviewer based on the conversational nature of your interview.

Again, preparation is key.  Go to the company’s website and other relevant news outlets (Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, etc.) to do a little research to come up with some stock questions to ask at the end.

Avoid clichés and ask questions that you are truly interested in learning more about (except questions about vacation, flexibility and salary – you should want the job first and foremost – worry about that stuff later).

If your question was answered it during the interview, don’t ask it again…conversely, if something new comes up in the interview and you want to ask about it – go for it! No matter what though, you have to ask at least a couple questions at the end and you have to be interested….even if you have to fake it.

Follow this blueprint and I can almost guarantee you that you will have a successful interview. If you have any questions along the way, please don’t hesitate to reach out to brad@rocketgrad.com or josh@rocketgrad.com. Good luck to all (not that any of you need it)!


Josh Tarica

Josh Tarica

Josh is a co-founder of RocketGrad.com, the premier network for Accounting and Information Systems students to land jobs and internships with leading firms.