Try This at Your Next Interview!

Fall quarter hosts a huge recruitment rush (don’t worry though – there are opportunities in the winter and spring too!), so it’s good to be a well polished interviewee.  I’ve decided to dedicate this blog post to sharing what I’ve found to be helpful while interviewing, and you’ll get a few tips from Jenna Koch, another MAcc student that went through interviews this fall!

  • Resume – First of all, make sure it is current and has NO typos.  Your resume should highlight your skills and interests and detail how those skills are related to the job you are applying for.  For this reason, I recommend keeping one or two resumes on your computer at all times.  This will allow you to submit a more “finance heavy” resume to the bank you interview with and a more “accounting heavy” resume to the Big Four.  The Office of Career Management can really help you polish your resume too – just check out their Resume Development Strategies!
  • Attire – Dress to impress, but make sure you’re comfortable.  I’ll be honest…I don’t know how to tie a necktie, even though this is an essential piece of the male business professional wardrobe.  Instead, I’ve opted for bow ties!  I’m much more comfortable in a bow tie, and its still professional attire.  Make sure your suit fits well, your shirts are not wrinkled, and your shoes are scuff free.  If you feel good walking into the interview, I promise the entire experience will be much more positive.
  • Be honest – This applies before, during, and after the interview.  Before you apply for a job, make sure you’re actually interested in it.  It’s good to get practice interviewing, but interviewing just to interview can be a huge time drain and you’ll be busy enough as it is.  If you know you are not at all interested in the job/company/industry, be honest with yourself and reconsider applying.  During the interview, engage in an honest dialogue.  If you take a position based on fabrications, you may find that you’re not as good of a fit as you thought you might be.  After the interview, be totally honest when evaluating the company.  Don’t feel pressured to go to round 2 if you know it wasn’t a good fit!
  • Do your research – Do you want to work for that company because you like what they do, or because they are a well-known name?  Make sure you do some background research so you can talk about why you want to work there.  This will impress the recruiters, but will also reinforce your decision.
  • When the time comes, make your decision and stick with it – If you’re lucky enough to have more than one offer on your plate, you’re going to have to just make a decision.  This is a great problem to have, and you won’t be able to make a wrong decision.  Once you’ve evaluated all the pros and cons of each firm, talked to your friends and family, and maybe even visited the Office of Career Management (excellent Career Conversation coaches can talk through your options with you!), you’re going to have to make a decision.  Make the decision and go with it 100%.  It’s not a life-or-death decision.  Sure, it’s important, but make the decision with the best information you have available and don’t look back.  The last thing you want to do is begin to doubt your decision.
As for the interview itself…here’s what Jenna has to say!
  • Ask the same question to multiple people.  You can usually tell if people are telling you how they truly feel or whether their answer was scripted by doing this.  You also want to make sure that the tone of their answer is consistent across the firm.
  • Take the time to talk to multiple people at career fairs, recruiting events, and at the actual interview.  People always tell you that this is good for networking, but it is also a great way to get a feel of the firm culture and how you would fit within that culture.
  • Remember that you are interviewing the companies as much as they are interviewing you.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Don’t let peers around you influence your decision.  Different things are important to different people, and different personalities fit better at different places.  Therefore, what is best for them may not be the best for you.  Find the fit that is best for YOU!
  • If you receive multiple offers and are having a hard time deciding between them, go with your gut.
So – any other current students have any advice?  Alum – how about you?  Share your tips via comments!

Interviews, Interviews…. And More Interviews

Never in my life have I completed more interviews in such a short amount of time. Since last week, I have interviewed with five different companies in the quest for an internship. I was beginning to feel like I was wearing a suit more often than not! It was strenuous, but the practice effect seemed to be doing its job. Through most of the interviews, the recruiters usually (somewhat) apologized for using behavioral-based questions during the interview, and in keeping with a concern for people, assured me not to be nervous and encouraged me to take my time in responding to such questions. I appreciated the goodwill, but although recruiters may feel that behavioral-based interviewing techniques are a new trend, in my years in the job market, these have certainly been the norm, including my experiences interviewing to be a CSR. And rarely did the questions throw me off. I did slightly stumble over one that went something like “tell me about a time that you were working in a group and had to convince others to see things your way or make a change and what was the result?” Well, that can certainly be hard to articulate. But I can see from the perspective of a manager that it’s important to search out people who have leadership skills and an ability to influence others and make real outcomes. And after a few interviews, I was well prepared to field similar questions.

Overall, I think a great strategy to prepare for any interview is to know what you might say in relation to your previous experience based upon common behavioral questions. And don’t fret if you don’t have much work experience — group projects and club involvement are great ways to sell yourself as a conflict-resolution guru and natural born leader. And remember, it never hurts to remind yourself that you’re awesome and any company would be lucky to have you. And truly believe it!