Today's job market is competitive. It's important to be prepared and perform well during and after an interview. Who doesn’t want to stand out as a superior candidate for the position you are seeking. Here are some tips to help you make a good interview great:
Before the Interview
• Get to know your potential employer. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to answer interview questions. And quite honestly, it makes interviewers feel really good when you know their company! Research the company to learn about the industries it serves and the services it provides. Find out who the company’s clients are. Learn the mission statement. Being well-educated about your potential employer shows that you are interested.
• Know where you are going. Be familiar with where you are going. Look up the company's location on Google Maps and drive by a few days before your interview. Allow plenty of time to get to your destination. Don't arrive on time, arrive early!
• Take time to rehearse. Practice makes perfect! There are many sites online that have practice interview questions. Use them and practice interviewing alone or with a friend. Answer questions out loud. This will help you become more comfortable with the interview process and allow you to answer questions confidently.
• Prepare questions to ask the interviewers. Asking questions demonstrates that you have an interest in the company. Ask why the interviewer likes working for the company. Inquire about culture and expectations for the position. Find out if the company sponsors continuing professional education to maintain a CPA license. If a topic of interest to you regarding the company is not addressed, ask about it! This is another great time to gauge fit.
• Get a good night's rest. Spend a quiet night at home the evening before the interview. Relax and get to bed early if you can. Getting enough sleep will help you be alert and attentive throughout the interview. Give yourself plenty of time to get ready the morning of the interview. Be sure to eat a good breakfast -- a growling stomach could be awkward.
During the Interview
• Be the best you! A smile and a positive attitude can go a long way to create that great first impression! Dress professionally. Be friendly and polite to everyone you interact with. Talk with the person who greets you – that person is interviewing you too. Remember that your potential employer is hoping to see how you will fit in with their team.
• Bring supporting documents. In a black or dark-colored portfolio, bring extra copies of your resume, school records, examples of your work, a pen and note pad to take notes, your list of questions to ask the interviewer(s), a list of reference names and contact information, and any paperwork the company previously sent you to complete. Not only does this show you are well prepared, it shows you are organized!
• Be aware of your body language. It's easy to get rattled the day of your interview, but be confident! You've done your homework. You are well prepared. You are ready to do this. Shake hands firmly. Maintain eye contact. Sit on the edge of your chair to show you are interested. Try to avoid crossing your arms. Use your hands to illustrate what you mean, but don't fidget.
• Listen carefully. Your potential employer most likely will ask why you are interested in the position and the company, and why you chose your profession. They also might ask about your strengths and weaknesses, how you successfully carried out a project, your technical capabilities and your work environment preference. Listen closely, and make sure you are answering the question being asked. It is okay to ask to have the question repeated, especially if it has multiple parts; however, try to write it down, and don’t make it a habit!
• Say thank you. At the end of your interview, shake hands again and say thank you. You just learned more about this company and the people working there. What a great honor.
Following the interview
• Say thank you, again. Send a thank you email or handwritten card to show the company you are excited to embark on a career with them. Spell each interviewer's name correctly, if in doubt check LinkedIn.
• Be excited! Applying for a job can be a long, grueling process. Landing the job will be a happy moment. If you are selected for the position, be sure to show your enthusiasm and appreciation!
• If you decide to decline, be pleasant. Maybe you have been offered another job that better suits you. If you need to decline an offer, do so professionally. Get back to the firm as soon as you know.
• Don't appear irritated if you do not get the job. If it doesn't work out, handle it graciously and professionally. You may be next in line if a position opens up!