The dreaded interview… For a lot of people the interview ranks up there with public speaking as one of the least desirable past times. Would it help to know that we’ve all been there? That your interviewer has been there and understands? That the interview is not about judging you as a person but about whether your background, goals and preferences coincide with the company’s requirements?
Well then, let’s get you ready as best we can.
The best tip we could possibly give you is to relax and be yourself… Would you really like to join a company that isn’t ideally suited to your personality, values and goals?
Arrive at your interview with five to ten minutes to spare. You can then do a quick check in the mirror and make sure that there is nothing foreign in your teeth or attached to your clothing.
Introduce yourself to the receptionist letting them know who you are meeting with, the purpose and time of the interview. (Tip: You can get a great sense of a corporate culture from the receptionist – how they answer the phone, their demeanour and presentation.)
Have a fresh, unfolded copy of your resume, reference letters and reference list ready for your interviewer. The interview is not the time to be rummaging around for information – you can appear disorganized and distracted.
When meeting with your interviewer, smile and make eye contact. You can convey a great deal of positive energy and confidence with a “Hi X. I’m Y. Thank you for giving me this interview!” Give a quick, firm handshake.
Engage with your interviewer. Eye contact and leaning slightly forward in your seat will convey interest. There is a very basic principle, which states that “People do business with people they like.” Keep the tone of the interview positive.
Know who you are! This sounds crazy but during an interview, candidates can be blindsided with questions on reasons for leaving positions, past accomplishments and future goals. The only real way around this is to practice with every conceivable question. Keep your answers on topic and of reasonable duration. Long-windedness is a definite turn-off! Key questions to keep in mind are:
Why did you leave your last position? Remember to keep it positive – this is not a time to fault-find. We can guarantee that if you do, you will be eliminated from the short-list! If you are coming out of a negative, high-turnover environment, simply express that the turnover was quite high and that you are interested in joining a dynamic and positive culture… end of story!
What is your greatest weakness? This exercise is actually more about honesty and openness than it is about your achilles heel. Succinctly provide your answer, an example and how you deal with it i.e.: “I’m a bit of a perfectionist and tend to expect a lot of myself. My previous manager really helped me to relax about putting my ideas forward and not worry about whether they were going to be absolutely right. He helped me to understand that brainstorming is a valuable creative process.”
What is your greatest strength? Again, honesty and humility count here. Where do you truly add the greatest value? It might be I’m a bit of a perfectionist again i.e.: “I consistently work to improve myself and strive to do my best for my employer.”
Why would you like to work here? This is a good one to have an answer for! What is it about the company that interests you? Is it their reputation in industry? The company’s track record? The growth potential of the role? The complexity of the reporting? The industry itself?
Have a couple of questions ready to ask the interviewer. What does it take to be successful within this organization? How do you see the accounting department developing over the next couple of years? What made you want to join this company? How would you want me to add value to your team?
Follow the interviewer’s lead. When it is time to wrap up the interview, thank them for their time and if you are still interested in the opportunity, by all means let them know that you would love to be considered for the position. Enthusiasm is a very attractive quality!
Finally, the thank you note is still a big winner! this shows thoughtfulness and your interest in the role.
We hope that these interview tips will give you some guidelines and help to put you a bit more at ease about the interview process. If you are still unsure of yourself going into your meeting, there’s no shame in letting the interviewer know that you’re a little nervous… they’ll probably be able to relate!