Getting Interview Ready

interviewing businessman

Do you have an interview coming up? Are you gearing up to begin your job search again? Are you nervous about presenting your best possible self? If the answer to any of these questions is yes then take a few minutes to read my advice and tips for being interview ready!

1) Research the Company and be prepared to share what you know about the company and what you find interesting and attractive about the company. You have probably heard this before, but it truly is one of the best pieces of advice. Go to the company website and spend time looking at it. Be able to speak to both the company as a whole as well as the position itself. I cannot tell you how many times an interview has started out “Tell me what you know about ABC Company” or “What made you apply for this role with our company specifically?”

In addition to the company website, researching the company on sites such as Indeed and Glassdoor will give you insight as to how things operate, company culture, challenges and perks of working for the company.  It can provide you with information you might not explicitly hear from your interviewer and/or will help you to read between the lines when they speak of company culture, communication, and employee satisfaction. Find out as much as you can about the company’s interview process and style of interview. Remember the interview process is as much about you finding the right company as it is about a company finding the right person too.

All of this research will only help you to present yourself in a genuine manner and help you decide if it’s where you want to be!

2) Know the Role you are applying for inside and out. I find it helpful to review the job description and draw parallels to my own experience whether it is part of my current job responsibilities or skills acquired in a previous role. It is helpful to specifically draw the parallel while interviewing and not just in your head! For example, if asked, “What do you think will be the most challenging part of this role?” I would respond by identifying a responsibility from the job description which you aren’t directly responsible for in your current position but are involved with so you are familiar with the process.

You don’t have to be able to draw a direct connection. For instance, if you can demonstrate that you have experience working with various stakeholders related to obtaining vendor quotations and the procurement process and how that experience might translate to working with the many stakeholders as it relates to preparing client/customer communications or an internal budget or vice versa. The idea is to show that the skills and experience you have will serve you and the company well in your new role.

Identify a couple of responsibilities of the role that you can ask the interviewer to elaborate on. Often this naturally happens, as part of the interview process the interviewer will review and talk about key responsibilities of the position. Take this is an opportunity for you to respond with references to your own work experience and how they relate to these responsibilities. Just nodding and allowing the conversation to continue without drawing on your own experience will leave the interviewer wondering if you fully understand or are capable of handling the role.

3) Ask Questions about them, the company and the job. Asking questions shows your interest and preparedness. It also helps the interview to flow more naturally and not be so forced. If you read something in reviews, this is the time to ask to gain an understanding more about the company and day to day. It is best to save money or benefits related questions until it is offer time! I find it helpful to ask the interviewer what they like most and least about their job and where they see themselves in 5 years time. It gives you that insight into how well organized/well run the company may be, employee satisfaction and company culture depending upon how talkative the interviewer is! Asking about the next steps in the process is always a good way to show your continued interest as well; especially if the interview is difficult or sensitive in any way.

Phone Interview

Often times an initial interview is conducted over the phone either with a member of the HR team or with a member of the actual accounting or finance team. There are advantages to having a phone interview rather than an in-person interview. For example, with a phone interview, you can take notes and have your own written thoughts prepared for the interview. I always have a sheet handy of a couple situational examples of leadership, project management, successes, and failures. More often I am noticing folks ask about times where you didn’t succeed or faced a challenge so be ready with that and not just a time where everything went swimmingly. Make sure you are in a quiet space.

In-Person Interview

Dress appropriately, typically business professional. If you smoke, don’t immediately before your interview. If you have a suit, wear it. If you don’t, don’t sweat it just look your best and dress in the most professional manner possible! I believe a firm handshake is a must. Women too, there are no exceptions! Remember eye contact and to smile every once in a while. Be sure to arrive a few minutes early and leave plenty of travel time. In the event, you are running late call them to let them know. Have a few copies of your resume and don’t be afraid to have a clean short list of notes and questions prepared to jog your memory. I like to make a short bulleted list of items I don’t want to forget to hit on. If I have any specific questions I want to be answered during my research I also list these on this page. It is not a script or pages and pages of notes but just a few things to jog my memory, much less than if I were phone interviewing.

The last piece of advice is on a more personal note. If you don’t get the next interview ask for feedback! If you get feedback, consider it but do not let it drive you mad or upset you too much. If you get feedback that is superficial, then move on and count your blessings. I heard back once that I wasn’t dressed professionally enough. I had a black matching suit and pants with flat black dress shoes and a blouse and my hair in a bun. No collar, no heels, and no pantyhose, which are the only things to this day that I can possibly think they were referring to. All I know is that if the lack of a collar, heels and/or pantyhose was a problem, it wasn’t a place I would want to work anyway. Finding a job is difficult but finding one that you love and is a good fit is even harder, trust your gut and be honest with yourself and the company!

Written by Allison Como, Senior Accountant

Read more about HBP employees who joined HBP post-graduation.