My first interview related to accounting came when I interviewed to become part of the PPA program that we have here at UTD. This program selects the top accounting students and prepares them for a career for in public accounting. I had no idea what public accountants do, or even if I wanted to become one. I didn’t know what kind of questions would be asked because I had never done this kind of interview before. I went in with my resume feeling slightly nervous. What do accountants even talk about in their spare time? Debits and credits, income statement items? I was relieved when they began asking questions about my current job at the time at Best Buy. I explained what I did and let them know how excited I was about accounting. Apparently the interview went well and I was admitted into the program.
The next interview I had was a mock interview with our school career center. They help prepare you for real life interviews and coach you on some of the questions you will be asked. My first interview went well, so I was not nervous for this second one. The last question I was asked was “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with ambiguity.” I really wish all of those SAT vocabulary words had come flying back into my mind to tell me what ambiguity meant! I got really nervous and stumbled out an answer, which to my luck actually had to do with ambiguity. I realized interviews weren’t going to be that easy.
The third set of interviews came when I started interviewing with firms for an internship. I was told that I needed to be ready to answer all types of questions and have my own questions to ask them. Most interviews ended within 20 minutes and they left the floor open for you to ask the questions. I wasn’t prepared at all for my first one. I accidentally told a firm I liked their location away from downtown, when they were located in downtown! Oops, I guess they weren’t going to hire me. I did a little more research before my next interviews and they went great. The firm I was really excited about went smoothly. I asked about what kinds of things the employees did outside of work to stay connected with the company. The interviewer mentioned that they form a softball team during the slow times. This sparked a conversation about how the Texas Rangers were playing at the time and we ended up casually chatting for the remainder of the interview. It is completely okay if your interviews get off topic. This shows the firm that you aren’t just a zombie coming to and from work just to make money. They want to make sure you have a personality that fits in with theirs. See Clay’s previous post about being a chameleon.
After a bad interview, don’t get down. A good interview is just around the corner. Take what you learned from the bad ones and try and get some tips to fix your errors. Ask your family members and friends to interview you to make sure you feel comfortable. Try not to be nervous, I know this is almost an impossible task, but just be yourself. After all, you don’t want to work for a company where you will be unhappy and one that may try and change you. And most importantly practice your handshake! There is nothing worse than having a weak or too aggressive handshake. I wish you luck in all of your future interviews!