A job well done: interviews for graduate schemes in accountancy and financial management
Accounting firms decide on their selection criteria and at interview examine whether you meet them. Work out the criteria and think about those obvious but tricky questions that are bound to come up, but avoid sounding as if you have rehearsed your answers. Go in with the right attitude: have a positive, honest and enthusiastic outlook and you could well be the graduate for the job.
Before your interview
Once you’ve been invited to interview, reply by phone or email within a couple of days. If you’re unsure about what to expect you can contact the recruitment team to ask a few questions. However, make sure you have gone through the website thoroughly before you call.
On the day of your interview
Be smart, business-like and try to ‘look the part’. Check the address and your itinerary beforehand and aim to arrive at least 15 minutes before your interview begins. Never be rude to receptionists – recruiters will be told and courteous behaviour is expected. Make sure you come fully prepared – recruiters expect candidates to have done their homework and to know why they are applying and what is going on in the wider world that may be relevant to the position. For example, it is advisable to read the Financial Times or Accountancy Age. Also check out the 'news' section of the employer's website. Don’t argue with recruiters, but do ask for clarification if you do not understand a question.
Recruiter tips: stand out at your interview
- Demonstrate a genuine interest in the graduate scheme to which you are applying, drawing on activities you have been involved in (such as online trading games, finance societies at university,
entrepreneurial ideas, programmes run by firms of accountants, etc).
- Talk passionately about the reasons you wish to pursue the job on offer. Show an interest in world events and their effect on the financial world.
- Come prepared with a variety of examples of where you have shown certain skills and competencies – from different areas of your life, not just academia. Demonstrate a good understanding of what competencies and skills would be required for the role.
- Don’t forget to smile and give a nice firm handshake with direct eye contact as soon as you are introduced to your interviewer – first impressions count!
Recruiter tips: what not to do at your interview
- Don’t make claims on your CV that you can’t back up at interview, eg say you’re fluent in Spanish but not be able to demonstrate this, or say you’ve studied a subject in depth but be unable to talk about it.
- Don’t forget to research the firm properly – you must know more than the basic stats on the homepage or the internet.
- Don’t turn up in inappropriate clothing. You don’t need to wear a full suit, but you must dress smartly.