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Job interviews – how to come out on top

Job interviews – how to come out on top
18 ways to give you the best chance of success

In our last blog, we went through 24 typical accountancy interview questions.  From the employers’ point of view, we looked at the kinds of questions that are good ones to ask and why.  We also looked at what you might learn from the answers the candidate gives.  This makes useful reading for candidates too.  This week’s blog gives 16 useful tips for candidates – points to bear in mind before and during your interview.  Take advantage of these tips and, with a little luck, you’ll find yourself ahead of the less-well-prepared competition and in pole position for that job offer!

First – remember the all-important question of attitude.  From the moment you walk through the door, make sure you come across as

  • Honest
  • Enthusiastic
  • Positive

This will give you the perfect start.

In the days before your accountancy interview …

  1. Reply to your invitation to the interview within 48 hours – first by phone, then confirm the appointment by email.  This will make you come across as both friendly and efficient.  By using the phone first, you’ll have a chance to impress with your friendly manner.  But, prior to calling, check out the company website, in case you have any questions to ask the recruitment team.
  2. Make sure you research the practice thoroughly.  Check out their website, as well as those of their main competitors.  Look at the practice’s LinkedIn page.  Find out all you can that’s relevant to the vacancy.  Our next blog will identify some tips as to how to carry out your pre-interview research.
  3. Think of instances that demonstrate your competencies and skills – not just from your career to date, but from different areas of your life.  Telling the interview panel about how great you are is worthless if you can’t provide concrete examples.
  4. Accountancy practices are renowned for the thoroughness of their interview processes.  They will have identified clear criteria for what they’re looking for.  These should be apparent in the pre-interview material they’ve sent you.  Be clear in your own mind about what your prospective employer wants.  Try and predict the difficult questions that they might ask.  Be aware of how you plan to respond to questions, but make sure you don’t come across as over-rehearsed.

On the day itself …

  1. Make sure you look good.  Be clean (especially hands and fingernails).  Be smart.  Be professional-looking.
  2. Double-check the practice location.  Don’t just rely on your Satnav – they don’t always get it right.  Check the address and your journey.  Try to arrive fifteen minutes before the interview time.  Appearing smart, calm, organised and punctual will speak volumes about your approach to work.
  3. Take one last look at the practice’s website.  Are there any fresh news stories?  If there are, keep them up your sleeve.  There’s no better way to ensure you’re on the ball and interested in your prospective employer’s business.
  4. When you arrive, be courteous and polite to anyone you meet.  The recruiters may well ask their receptionist and other employees about how you came across pre-interview.
  5. Prepare a couple of questions for the end of the interview.  Don’t be too general.  Preferably, think of questions that relate specifically to the accountancy practice with whom like to work.

At the interview itself …

  1. Those all-important first impressions – offer a friendly, firm handshake, direct eye contact and of course … smile!
  2. Body language.  Sit up – no slouching.  Lean slightly forward with your hands in your lap and relax.  Retain eye contact with your interviewer.
  3. Show genuine interest in the role for which you’re applying.  Think of how your experience, either from work your life outside work, might impact on the role.
  4. Stay focused.  Don’t let your mind drift.  Concentrate on demonstrating how motivated you are.  Tell your interviewer about your enthusiasm for the role.  Also display an interest in external matters too – for example, how the current UK and global economy might impact on the practice’s clients.
  5. Never argue with your interviewers.  Yes – it’s important to have your own views, but that’s different from picking a fight with your interviewer in order to impress them how independent-minded you are.
  6. Don’t flannel.  If you’re not sure what the interviewer wants to know, don’t waffle your way through an answer.  Instead, ask for clarification.  If you don’t the answer – say so.

What if, after having followed our guidelines, things don’t turn out as you might wish?

  1. Don’t despair – there will always be other opportunities.
  2. Ask for feedback.  If by chance, you try again for a role with the same practice in the future. this will create a good impression, Take note of the feedback and use it to your advantage.  Learn from it.
  3. Never give up.  With diligence, training, qualifications and determination, the world of accountancy will always find a good home for you where your career can flourish.


We’re specialist recruiters in the accountancy sector.  We’d welcome the opportunity to discuss your career opportunities with you.  Do call us.  We’d love to hear from you.

Telephone – 0333 577 7787

Email –  info@publicpracticerecruitment.co.uk

Or complete our submission form.


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