Interviewing can be a nerve-wracking experience. However, it can be possible to reduce the stress involved in the process – if you take the necessary steps to prepare and ensure you have marketed yourself to the best of your abilities.
Scott Moore, director of Student and Professional Pathways for the AICPA, believes that the challenge for many finance and accounting job seekers is that they underestimate the importance of the interview and what their potential reward could be.
“Let’s say you’re interviewing for a job that is going to pay $70,000 a year,” said Moore. “You’re probably going to have an hour with somebody in an interview and essentially you are asking them to give you $70,000 a year. So the amount of effort you put into the preparation should be correlated to what your reward is going be.”
Within these preparations, finance and accounting job seekers should include research on the organization, the individual conducting the interview and the competitors in the field.
“By researching competitors in the field, job seekers will have a full picture of what the organization is up against,” said Moore. “Candidates should not only understand what the organization does, but where they fit into the competitive market, what their value proposition is and how they can work to increase the bottom line and improve the market share.”
It is also important to go into the interview armed with a number of questions to ask the hiring manager.
“The questions a candidate asks during the interview process are crucial,” said Moore. “By asking questions about the organization’s goals and challenges, job seekers provide themselves with the opportunity to offer a follow up answer that reinforces why they are the best candidate for the job. Think of these questions as a way to plant a seed for the answer that you wanted to give during the interview but didn’t have the chance to.”
Finally, while a resume and cover letter provide a strong baseline of information – including past successes and relevant certifications – candidates must be prepared to go beyond this information during their interview.
“Be sure to bring up experiences outside of your resume, as well as comment on items within it. This will demonstrate your robust experience and ensure that you are maximizing exposure,” said Moore. “Further, really focus on the value that you can bring the organization – how you can help them achieve their goals and improve the bottom line. This is the type of information that interviewers are looking for.”
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