ACCA Job Interview – General Tips – Prepare Correctly For Your Accounting Career
I know many of you have already read various general interview tips but let me reiterate the issue. Let me put you in the Employers’ shoes for a moment. Just imagine you are an accountancy employer, either working for a big firm or even a small independent accountancy practice, looking to take on that newest ACCA part qualified staff member to join your team, and you’re looking forward to interviewing respective candidates… but the following happens:
• He/she enters into the room with a smell of smoke and chewing gum in his/her mouth. How much would you be impressed? What does this say about the candidate? (People often chew gum before an interview to maintain fresh breath, but you’d be surprised how many people actually forget to take the gum out before walking in! And resist the urge to smoke before an interview, the smell is overpowering!
• He/she is not wearing a proper suit, or worse yet, wearing jeans. (You are interviewing for a professional accounting career… you need to dress accordingly)
• He/she only has one single copy of their CV with them. (Take multiple copies to give out in case they need one again. You don’t yet know if it’s a multiple-seated interview panel.)
• He or she is fifteen minutes late. (Never, ever be late for your interview! If you appear late for one of the most important meetings, this suggests you won’t even care about other business meetings in the future)
• Their information in their CV, and information the applicant provides during the interview are totally different. First thing on your mind? Doubt! (Always make sure your CV is factual and you know it inside-out)
• The candidate has called you by your first name without permission (how would you feel in this professional setting?) and even worse, they’ve pronounced your name wrong! (always use their formal name until you are told to call them otherwise. Listen to how they introduce themselves when you first shake hands. It will be an indication of how they want you to address them)
• The candidate is yawning and more interested in a view outside the window, not even bothering to make eye contact with you. (If you don’t want to pay attention or act interested, then this is not the job for you. Don’t waste your time or the time of the interviewer)
• He/she sits before you even ask. (Wow! Do you feel empowered?… because the interviewer could feel like they are on the back foot before they’ve even started… watch out!)
• No professional conduct and no sense of humor (your staff is going to hate you for hiring them). (Always act professionally, and you want to come across as if you can work in a team. It will be an important issue for the interviewer to review overall)
• The candidate conducts inappropriate or weak body language. (Not everything is measured verbally – think of your upright posture, your smile, your arms and hands etc)
• His/her answers are like a never ending speech and he took you for granted (presuming himself the only applicant). And still you are wondering why are you even interviewing him/her? (this is a 2-way process… they need to ask you their questions to see if you fit. Allow them to ask, then it’s your turn at the end. Wait until then)
• They start debating on Politics or Religion. (This is a job interview, not a current affairs debate, unless the state of the economy and government has some significant bearing directly relating to the job role)
• And before leaving, they assume they already have the job and ask you how much you’re willing to pay them? (Always let the interviewer bring up the discussion of salary. They may have to go away and think about it, or perhaps they haven’t offered it to you at all because they won’t be offering you the job. In either case, appear too pushy and most interviewers won’t like that)
Yes, I know you are completely frustrated if you could imagine the scenario above and as an employer you know what should not be done. So, respectively, if you really want to fail an interview, follow all the steps above. However, look at these 5 top tips to hold yourself with a fighting chance.
Five tips for a top ACCA interview:
• Be prepared
Learn as much as you can about your potential company, who they are, their services and their strategic direction. Make sure you can articulate how your strengths and career goals align with the company, and why you think you’ll succeed in that particular organization.
• Be proactive
Prepare a list of questions to ask your interviewer(s) so you can assess whether the company is the right place to launch your ACCA career. Ask them questions about the organization (they would be pleased to tell you more) but be specific about the role, the clients you will be expected to take on, the opportunities they can offer you and what you can expect from them in general. (All of these points should not be questions which you can find the answers about on their website – see research point above, “be prepared”)
• Be yourself
Try to relax and remember that companies are interested in the real you. When preparing, it’s helpful to think about how you’d like to communicate certain points but avoid over-rehearsing, as it may come across as impersonal.
• Be professional
Take pride in your presentation. Companies adore professional traits like how you dress, how you speak and what you tell them about yourself. You will, after all, be representing them in meetings, with clients etc. They want to make sure you represent them well in appearance and tone.
• Be aware
throughout the interview take a quick moment to think before you act. Be aware of how you are sitting, your posture, your body language, don’t yawn, keep eye-contact etc. Don’t just blurt out any response simply to answer the question quickly, make sure you understand the questions and answer them accordingly and thoughtfully. If you’re speaking too fast, slow down.