The thought of going to an interview can be, well, intimidating. This intimidation factor can disappear with confidence which comes with preparation. Smith & Howard’s recruiting team is here to help you learn more about the interview process.
Step 1: Interview Preparation
- Research is key. Learn as much as you can about the firm and those with whom you will be meeting. Look for unique aspects of the firm or recent news and bring them up in your interview discussions. This will show you have done your research.
- Come prepared with questions. This can include questions around a typical work day, firm culture, audit/tax practices, niche groups, future direction of the firm, etc. You are interviewing the firm as much as they are interviewing you, so ask questions that are important to you. Do not be afraid to ask the same questions of multiple people. Different people will have different perspectives.
- Be sure that you have the interview specifics or agenda prior to arriving, and confirm your interview date, time and location.
Step 2: First Impressions
- Be on time for your interview. It is a good idea to be 5-10 minutes early, but do not arrive too early (20 minutes or more prior to your interview time is too early). Also, plan for the unknown, such as traffic, unfamiliar areas, parking, etc.
- Unless instructed otherwise, you should come to an interview in professional dress; we recommend suits for men and women (with men wearing a tie). Remember that you are there to sell your attitude and ability, not your appearance, but being well dressed and groomed will help you make a great first impression.
- Avoid perfume or cologne.
- Bring a padfolio to keep copies of your resumes, questions you might have for the firm and papers for note taking. Since you will be speaking with multiple people, it is best to keep everything organized throughout your interview.
Step 3: Interview Execution
- Make good eye contact and have a firm handshake.
- This will show confidence and make the interview more engaging.
- Have a good demeanor and attitude. Showing enthusiasm and true interest in the firm will go a long way.
- Be attentive.
- Ask questions and communicate them clearly.
- Be prepared to answer tough questions. You might also Google “interview questions” to find examples of common and more off-the-wall questions.
Step 4: Post Interview Follow-Up
- The Business Card: Remember to ask for a business card from each interviewer. If they do not have a card, ask them for their email address.
- Follow Up Email: Send a follow up email to your interviewers within 24 hours of your visit. The primary reason for sending the follow up is to show the interviewer that you appreciated their time. It is also recommended to mention or describe a specific discussion point or topic discussed. This will show you were attentive and engaged in the interview. This small email can make a big impression.
- A handwritten note will also make a big impression. These are rarely done and stand out when received.
An interview is a two-way street: you are interviewing the firm as much as they are interviewing you. The key to a successful interview is being well prepared, confident and genuine. Also, accounting is a small world. Make sure not to burn bridges during the interview process. You never know when you will need to contact acquaintances again.