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interviewee. Telephone interviews, webcam interviews, stress interviews, pleasant interviews, the list of techniques and methodologies just goes on and on. Once I had occasion to interact with a highly sadistic Hr professional, who used to take perverse delight in coming out and telling the seated prospective Candidates: Gentlemen, you are so many, and there are only two jobs, so do your best, and remember, we have more reasons to reject you, than to take you,so many of you will be going home, but anyway, all the best, and so and and so forth, Well, that much about my part, now please read on. Following are some things you should keep in mind when preparing for a job interview: Assuming you have a well-written and honest resume, review it often, especially before an interview. Many questions asked will be generated by the information in your resume. Question yourself about every item on it, and be ready to respond, preferably using anecdotes and concrete examples. Be sure to bring a copy of your resume with you to the interview just in case the interviewer did not receive it or has misplaced it. Do your homework about each company with whom you interview. Go on the Internet or go to the library and check available reference sources to enable you to ask intelligent questions. By researching a company, you demonstrate that you have a real interest in the position, which can ultimately impress an employer. Know precisely how to get to the site of the interview, even if it means making a trial run a few days in advance. Know how long it takes you to get to the interview, and leave enough time to arrive early. Being late for an interview will almost always doom your chances. Candidates who arrive just in time are also generally flustered, which can hurt the interview. Get there early and use the cushion of time to gather your thoughts. Be certain you know the interviewer's name and find out how to pronounce it if it looks difficult. Choose the appropriate wardrobe and have it ready ahead of time. Arriving with a button missing or scuffed shoes does not make a good initial impression. There is no substitute for neatness. Dress conservatively, even if the culture of the company with which you're interviewing is informal.
Remember you are looking for a job, not going to a party. If appropriate, you can always dress down once you've landed the job. Leave any negative feelings at home; bring only your positive, upbeat self to the interview. Pledge to be friendly with everyone with whom you come in contact, including the receptionist, the interviewer's secretary, and everyone else introduced to you. Managers often ask others who come in contact with a candidate for their evaluation. Be committed to speaking positively and kindly about other people, including fellow students, professors, and previous employers. If the interview has come through your college placement office, there is a good possibility you will know some other students with whom you are in competition. If their names come up, avoid the natural temptation to point out something negative. Rather than enhancing your own potential for getting the job, you diminish yourself in the interviewer's eyes. Potential employers want "proof" of the things you say, so be ready to present examples of the skills and abilities attained in school and in previous jobs. Take the opportunity to tell the interviewer about your goals and strong points. Be alert to your surroundings and listen carefully to what the interviewer says. Often, you'll learn what the interviewer likes and doesn't like in a candidate, as well as gaining insight into what the job demands. A good listener is able to build upon that knowledge and come back with the sort of responses an interviewer wants to hear. Remember that any answer you give to a question is likely to be followed by additional questions. If you're asked if you like to read, simply saying yes" isn't sufficient when the interviewer follows up with, "What books have you read lately, and which have impressed you most?" Avoid accepting offers of food or beverages during the interview. Spilling coffee on yourself does nothing to enhance your image. If the interview should involve lunch or dinner, order smart. You may love spaghetti, but it can be pretty messy to eat. Also, decline the offer of alcoholic beverages. Keep in mind that while you're a graduate with an accounting degree, and are looking for a job in accounting, you are engaged in direct selling when being interviewed. A good salesperson, after making an effective presentation, always asks for the order. That rule also applies to seeking jobs. If the interview went well, and you believe you are qualified for the job and can handle the responsibilities, say so. Modest self-confidence is rewarded initially by employer confidence in you -
and later on if you are successful in your job. Every interview should be followed with a short, courteous note thanking the interviewer. The note could indicate something positive in your favor that you forgot to bring up during the interview itself, as well as express your continued interest in the position. What Interviewers Are Looking For The interviewer must, based on his or her inquiry and your response, determine if you, among all candidates, are one of the best people for the job. To do this, the interviewer makes a judgement about the total candidate as a probable employee with the firm/company. This judgement is based on a number of factors called Predictors of Success: Personal Impressions - A good interviewer generally relies heavily on the first impression you project. This is because an employee's ability to make a good first impression is a definite asset to the individual and the firm/company he or she represents. During the interview you will be evaluated on such traits as: Poise; Ability to communicate; Maturity; Integrity; Stability; Self-reliance. Job Interests and Career Goals - A most important point is finding out exactly what you want and why you want it. To this end, the interviewer will ask questions that require you to make and justify career decisions. The interviewer will investigate factors relating to your: Adaptability; Initiative; Enthusiasm; Aptitudes and abilities; Willingness to work and learn; Ability to get along well with other people. Job Qualifications Your basic qualifications for the job are of course of paramount importance. No matter how great a person you are or how well you have defined and demonstrated what you want to do, the final decision regarding an offer of employment will be based on your qualifications, including: Level and appropriateness of academic training and achievement; Leadership potential (primarily managerial/supervisory potential); Special training; Work experience; Job related hobbies and interests; Faculty recommendations. Remember, the interview is a two-way street. Be prepared to make something happen. Interviewers look for well-rounded individuals whose work interests seem to match acquired knowledge, skills and talents. It is your responsibility to ensure the interviewer gets the information needed to make an employment decision in your favor. If you fail here, you probably will not get another chance.
Parts of the Interview To some extent, the format of an interview is the creation of the interviewer. No two interviews are the same. Individual personalities are bound to influence the conduct of an interview. The basic structure of a job interview is quite standard. A typical interview has four parts: Introduction - Establishes rapport; this is where the interviewer notes his/her first impressions and makes initial judgements on your appearance, manner, energy and enthusiasm. Background - This is where the interviewer determines you basic qualifications for the job. He/she will ask you a series of questions. (Scroll below for Sample Interview Questions) While you are listening or responding to the questions, the interviewer will note how you handle yourself, evaluate your qualifications and suitability for employment and revise (or confirm) the initial judgement made during the introduction. The interviewer is also evaluating your ability to communicate in a clear and logical manner. He/she is also seeking clues to measure and evaluate your self-confidence, ability to relate to others, level of motivation, interest span, and personal values. Also under review are your statements about career ambitions. Are they balanced with your past academic performance, work experience, extracurricular activities and other interests? A good self-assessment can make you more articulate and help direct your thinking in responding to such questions. Don't short change yourself when talking about work experiences. All your background is important, whether or not it relates to the job you seek. This includes part-time, full-time, volunteer, internship and co-op experience. Evaluate your work experiences in terms of attributes and skills you expect to bring to your new career. Relate them in a positive manner. Remember, employers want employees who are self-starters, self-motivators, and eager to work. The Discussion - The discussion is a critical part of any interview.It is here that the interviewer tries to match your qualifications and career interests with the employment opportunities available. Having read the company/firm literature and conducted other research on the firm/company and the types of jobs you qualify for and are interested
in, you should now be able to enter a constructive dialogue about how you can fit into, and be profitable to, the company/firm. Sell your product - Yourself! Here you have the opportunity to ask questions covering new information and clarifying previous points such as: How long is the training program? Can an individual go through it in a shorter time? At his/her own pace? When does it begin? How much travel is involved? What are the duties and responsibilities of this job? What is a typical day like? How often are performance evaluations conducted? It's best to avoid asking questions that can be answered by reading the firm/company's literature. Finally, if comments on salary are included in the interviews, it will generally be in the discussion phase. Let the interviewer mention salary first. You should have some idea of current salary levels from discussions with placement office representatives and faculty before the interview, so the importance of salary should be minimized at this stage. The discussion is also your chance to point out important qualifications that the interviewer may have left out or passed over lightly. Don't be afraid to point them out. You may not get another chance. The Close - This is the wrap-up. If the interviewer is really excited about you, you could get a last minute "selling job" on the company/firm. Also, ask any final questions you might have. You should then get instructions from the interviewer about what will happen next such as being told when you will receive a decision; being requested to fill out a job application, being invited for an office visit; suggesting another meeting; expressing no further interest; and/or providing other information dictated by firm/company policy. Sample Interview Questions Tell me about yourself (e.g., your accounting experience, your schooling, your extracurricular activities). Why did you choose the study of accounting? Where do you see yourself in five years? Why are you interested in a job in public accounting? Why industry?
Why government? Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses. Do you have any computer skills? What did you like and dislike about your accounting classes? When will you be sitting for CPA exam? Do you belong to any clubs, organizations, or societies? Why should I hire you? How have you dealt with conflicts/problems in school? Why do you think you would like to work for our company? What type of position most interests you? If you were entirely free to choose, what job in our company would you most like to do? What kind of supervisor do you prefer? Do you prefer any geographic area? How do you spend your summer vacations? What do you do during your leisure time? What types of books do you read? What percentage of your college expenses did you pay on your own? What are your long-range and short-range goals and objectives? What and why did you establish these goals and how are you preparing yourself to achieve them? What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses? How do you think a friend or professor who knows you well, would describe you? How would you describe yourself?
What qualifications do you have that make you think you will be successful? In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our company? What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why? Why did you select the college you attended? What led you to choose your major/field of study? What college subjects did you like best? Why? The least? Why? Do you think your grades are a good indication of your abilities? What have you learned from participating in extra-curricular activities? In what part-time or summer jobs have you been most interested? Why? Why did you decide to seek a position with this organization? What do you know about our company? What two or three things are most important to you in a job? What criteria are you using to evaluate the company for which you hope to work? Will you relocate? Are you willing to travel? What major problem have you encountered and how did you deal with it? What have you learned from your mistakes? The Office Interview If you are successful in your initial campus interview, the next step is usually an invitation to visit the company/firm's office. What to Expect - Be prepared to talk with staff members at all levels. They will ask questions about you and your career goals. Expect some fairly detailed questioning. They will also expect you to ask questions. Concentrate your questions on the nature of the work, the typical
duties and responsibilities you will be required to perform. Know the company's/firm's organizational structure. Be Prepared - Get a good night's sleep. Have some ideas about what you are going to ask. Be attentive and show interest. The Wrap-Up or Last Interview of the Day - You may be offered a job. Don't consider the outcome to be negative if an offer is not extended immediately. Some companies/firms make a practice of extending offers through the mail. Within a short period of time, you should be notified of the outcome of you interview. Expenses - Keep an accurate record of your expenses. Keep hotel and airplane receipts. If you are splitting expenses among several companies/firms, be certain you inform them. Trying to make a few extra dollar is improper and could harm your opportunities and may be illegal. If You Receive an Offer - Try to give the company/firm some idea about when you will make a decision. Don't box yourself in. Make sure you give yourself enough time to interview at all the companies/firms you planned to. Make sure you understand the offer completely (overtime, benefits and other relevant matters). If you have questions about the offer, call the interviewer or designated person. Don't quibble over small difference in starting salaries. If You Receive a Rejection - Keep your chin up. There are many other opportunities out there. If you constantly receive rejections, examine the reasons. They may show common interviewing faults. Make improvements where possible. If you do poorly in an interview and do not receive an offer, it could be because of one or more of these common interview faults: Insufficient career direction; Failure to project your qualifications; Absence of apparent initiative; Need for greater self-confidence; Shabby or inappropriate personal appearance; Insufficient knowledge of the company/firm; Inability to express yourself clearly; Failure to ask questions. If, at the conclusion of your interview, you have a strong interest in the company/firm, write to the interviewer confirming this. It is always good professional manners after any interview to write a note of appreciation to the people you interviewed with that day. Not many people do this, so it can be an effective tool to make you stand out. Make the note a short, sincere statement of your appreciation for the time spent with you. Reaffirm your interest in the position and company/firm. Try to mail the letter that evening or day after your interview. Accepting the Offer - Write or call the company/firm to inform them of your acceptance. Establish a starting date. Inform any
other company/firm that has offered you a position of your decision. Inform your school's placement office of the name of the company/firm and type of position you have accepted. (SOURCE: New Accountant, April 1995; Price Waterhouse LLP and Person/Wolinsky recruiting materials; reprinted excerpts with permission) All about Interviews and how to succeed in them
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