Blogger: Eric Rivetna
So, you’ve made it this far. You’ve been selected to have an interview with a firm or with a company that has a need for accountants. You are in your best suit or your most tasteful professional clothes. Your clothes are a pivotal factor in the interview process. Everything should be tasteful, conservative, and neat. Men should wear simple suits with simple colors. Suits should always be navy, black, charcoal, and gray. Ladies should probably avoid “wild” or unconventional makeup, such as red, green, purple and bright blue eye shadows. Also, your heels should be appropriate in length. I have heard many interviewers discuss that when they see people deviate from these standards that it causes instantaneous red flags and your interview is DOA before you even get in the door. This shouldn’t be taken offensively; interviewers have a very short time to assess you. Your first visual impression is an important one.
Now when it comes to the actual interview process you should be happy, enthusiastic, polite, and excited (this should come naturally, they like you enough to see you!). Always have a few copies of your résumé on hand, even if the firm has already looked over your résumé before contacting you. It is likely that whoever looked at your résumé initially will not be the same person conducting the interview. If you are interested in taking notes, ask the interviewer if they are ok with it. I doubt anyone would ever say no, but it falls in line with being polite and you are subtly expressing that you have manners. Be attentive, and make eye contact with your interviewer as often as possible if you are taking notes. Equally important to looking professional is acting professional. Acting professional isn’t always about what you say; it could be all about what you don’t say, basically, body language. Slouching, tense shoulders, bouncing your leg, and any other non-relaxed response to sitting in that chair sends many unwanted signals to the interviewer. As the interviewee, you want to express confidence and though these are all normal reactions to being nervous, which of course you will be, you still need to keep yourself in check.
A couple last tips before we wrap up are what I personally believe make a great interviewee. It is imperative that you be yourself. You’ve done the research and played out every answer to every question in your head, but maybe all those automated (and likely trite) responses aren’t what an interviewer wants to hear. Anticipating all the questions you’ll be asked is a dangerous game, you’ll likely never be asked a question in the phrasing you are ready to respond to, or that question at all! You’ll stumble when it comes to time to recall your scripted response. Be natural, be yourself, and try to be quick on your feet. Do not worry about giving the “perfect answer.” Another tip is to find common ground with the interviewer. If opportunity knocks, take it. Maybe the interviewer grew up where you did, likes the same sports, or listens to the same music as you. Take the chance to break away from the prepared line of questioning and chat about mutual interests, but keep it brief, and take social cues if it is obvious the interviewer wants to move on. Lastly, be sure to ask questions. Show that you are as interested in them as they are in you. Don’t hesitate to ask questions you may already know the answer to. It’s possible that the interviewer can provide a different perspective on what you’ve heard before.
Remember, it’s important to not worry about whether or not you’ll get the job. That is not in your control. What IS in your control is how you conduct yourself during the interview process. If you are confident and do your best and don’t get the job, it doesn’t mean you’re unemployable. Take all interviews as practice, hone your skills, and you’ll be getting that paycheck in no time!