You’ve printed extra copies of your resume, selected your best interview outfit, researched the company and are prepared ask questions of the interviewer. But if you want to ace an interview for a highly sought-after accounting and finance job, you’ve got to be ready for more than just the basics. Here are five ways to elevate your interview impact.
Understand what’s happening in the industry at large
What’s on the minds of accounting and finance pros right now? Do you know how thought leaders in the industry believe artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain will impact the profession? Are new accounting pronouncements or restated earnings from major companies making headlines?
Hiring managers want to know that you’ve done some research. This goes beyond the company you’re interviewing with; they want to see that you’re keeping tabs on the industry at large. So, before you head into an interview, read the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal or prominent industry blogs and publications. Do more than just skim the headlines and be ready to talk about industry news in an informed way.
Be prepared for technical questions
An impressive resume and a polished interview demeanor doesn’t always mean that someone has basic skills to get the job done. For this reason, interviewers may ask a few technical questions targeted at very specific knowledge.
The questions they’ll ask will depend on the industry and the position you’re interviewing for, but a quick Google search for “technical questions” plus the job title should reveal some good examples. You don’t have to be able to calculate complex financial ratios on the go, but be prepared to show you’re familiar with common terms and fundamentals.
Craft your story
Smart interviewers ask open-ended questions to learn more about their candidates. If you really want to build rapport with your interviewer, come ready to not only answer questions but tell your story in a way that will resonate with your interviewer.
In a video for LeanIn.org, Jennifer Aaker, Professor of Marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, says stories are up to 22 times more memorable than facts alone. Use the job description to identify the skills, experience and knowledge areas the hiring manager is looking for. Then spend some time thinking about stories that show the interviewer how what you’ve done previously will help you perform well in this new position.
During a job interview, focus on putting your best foot forward, demonstrating your knowledge, skill and professionalism. But don’t forget to inject a little personality into your interview. Your interviewer wants to ensure that you’re a good fit for the company culture.
Smile and share your sense of humor. You should always err on the side of keeping it professional and avoid putting on an act. However, it’s ok to demonstrate your unique personality. Show your future co-workers the person they’ll be working with on a daily basis.
Demonstrate soft skills
While technical skills are essential in accounting and finance, hiring managers are increasingly placing a premium on soft skills. There is a particular interest in leadership, communication, client service and coachability. Technical skills may be paramount in an entry-level job, but soft skills are essential to advancing your career.
The interview may not explicitly discuss soft skills, but rest assured that employers assess them. They’ll note the enthusiasm you show, how well you express yourself, and whether the stories you tell demonstrate problem-solving, teamwork and leadership qualities. Make a point to tell stories that highlight these skills.
Interviewing for a new job can be a nerve-wracking experience, but if you prepare ahead of time, you’ll feel more confident and make a better impression. So be yourself, know your stuff and tell stories that demonstrate you’re the perfect fit for the job. Get ready to rock your interview – and don’t forget to send a thank you note!
Once you’ve got the job, learn how to take advantage of career development opportunities.