Interviewing

During accounting careers interviews, the hiring managers and/or human resources staff will try to determine whether you have the qualities and background they are seeking for the position they want to fill. Generally they take the time to interview only people with the basic qualifications they require. They will not want to waste time interviewing unqualified candidates.

Prepare for the interview by researching the company. Review the company’s annual financial statements if it is a public company, as well as news stories and articles. Often financial statements are published on the Internet, and newspapers archive articles on the Internet as well. Use the information gained from the principles of accounting course to analyze some of the financial information. Try to understand what the company’s mission, vision, and values are, as well as its track record. What problems do you think the company might need to solve? How could you contribute to the solutions? Try to understand the company culture as well. Is the company creative and casual, or is it more structured and focused on policies and procedures?


Dress appropriately for the interview. For men, this usually means shirts, ties, and suits, with dress shoes. For women, a conservatively-colored business dress suit with nylons and conservative heels is appropriate. Conservative colors include navy, grey, and black solid colors or muted patterns like pinstripes. For women, conservative heeled shoes are those with lower heels, no more than two inches. Do not wear stiletto heels.

Arrive at the interview at least ten minutes early. If possible, drive to the building a day or two before and check out the parking and location in the building of the offices. This will help reduce your stress on interview day.

Surveys indicate that most interviewers make the hiring decision in the first few minutes of the interview, so the first impression you give is critical. Offer a firm handshake during the introduction. Make eye contact with the interviewer. Smile, but do not use inappropriate humor. Use business English when you are speaking. Be aware of your body language. For example, leaning forward in your chair indicates you are interested in the topic. Leaning back with your arms folded across your chest indicates that you are closed to the topic.

Answer the questions concisely. Don’t ramble but try to answer the question from the perspective of the hiring person. If you are not sure what the interviewer is asking, politely ask for clarification. This is better than answering a question in ways that demonstrate ignorance.

If the interviewer asks you if you have questions, ask a few that show that you have done some research and are interested in the company. Do not ask what the salary is; this will come later if the company makes you an offer. Generally, the salary is determined by many factors, including salary range, education, experience, and the number of qualified candidates. It is appropriate to ask the interviewer when he or she expects to make the hiring decision and to indicate that you would like to check back in a week or two to see the status of the job.

After the interview is finished, thank the interviewer or interviewers for their time and consideration. Within a day or two of the time you finish the interview, send a note to each person with whom you interviewed. Thank the interviewers for their consideration and let them know what you appreciate about their company and the opportunity. If you don’t hear anything in a week or two, contact a human resources staff member to find out about your status.