Don’t just turn up – The Audit Graduate’s Guide to Interview Success
8 basic things to remember at an Audit interview.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail‘. Benjamin Franklin
Securing the job interview is just the start of your audit career. Now you need to take time and effort to be ready for the interview. Don’t think that if you just turn up you’ll being given the job. In today’s tough job market for Auditors, Accountants and IT professionals, poor preparation, sloppy appearance and timing, and inadequate follow-up can all affect your chance of success – so always prepare well.
1. Make sure you know what the company does
At some stage you will be asked what you know about the company – so take time to research its website - when they started, what they are currently focused on, what their future plans are. Check out the business news services to see if any articles or stories have been published about them. Use LinkedIn to research the backgrounds of current or past employees working in the same business, or find out more about your interviewer if you know their name, using Google. This research need not take long but will give you confidence and help during your interview - as your knowledge will show how serious you are about the audit job.
2. Make sure you arrive on time.
Arriving late and flustered does not help you or your interviewer, so plan everything well in advance, ensuring enough time to cover any last minute problems that might arise travelling or locating the interview address. Consider practising your route in advance, if you can, but certainly aim to arrive at least 10 minutes early to give you time to use the conveniences to freshen up, check your notes and gather your thoughts.
3. Dress to impress, and avoid negative body language.
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression so unless you’ve been told to dress casual, make sure you look tidy, clean and smart. Studies show the first 30 seconds of an interview are the most critical with decisions being made based how you come through the door, cross the room and sit down. The remainder of the interview is then often just a confirmation of that decision. Remember the interview process actually starts as soon as you arrive at the location, so you will not do yourself any favours if you sit at reception in a chilled out or sloppy manner, provide half-hearted greetings and handshakes, keep your arms folded or avoid eye contact. Smiling and using positive body language with everybody in the building will convey enthusiasm for the job and a good overall persona.
4. Answer the question that’s being asked.
You may have lots of things you want to say to impress, but listen carefully to what you are being asked and make sure you answer with substance and no waffling. Interview questions are designed to draw out the relevant experience and audit skills that you have to match the job that needs doing. It’s not an invitation to talk non-stop about anything else. While it’s always a good idea to practice answering some anticipated questions in advance, you also need to sound natural and not too-well rehearsed. If you have done your research well you should be able to provide pertinent examples that relate to the work you’d be expected to do. Honesty is important too – don’t be like the recent graduate who, having applied for a job with a French car company and boasted in their CV that they were fluent in French, appeared somewhat surprised to discover the interview being conducted entirely ‘en Francais’! Let’s just say he didn’t start his career with Renault. Honesty is always the best policy as you will be caught out otherwise.
5. Show respect for your former employers
If at any stage during the interview you are asked to give an opinion about a previous employer, avoid saying anything critical or negative, as it will only end up reflecting on you. Respond by talking about the positive aspects of your previous companies and what you were able to achieve with them.
6. Sell yourself
Be confident about promoting yourself and sharing your achievements but do it without coming across as being arrogant or conceited. Many people think it’s wrong to boast about how well they excelled in previous posts, but as long as you avoid sounding superior or self-important then certainly put across your strengths in positive way, backing them up with relevant examples, facts and figures.
7. Always ask a question or two.
When asked at the end of the interview, if you have any questions, never say no. This may suggest that you are actually indifferent or uninterested in the auditing job. If you think all the points you were going to raise have already been covered, then phrase a question to clarify something that has already been said. Also try to avoid token questions about job conditions, perks etc. Asking questions that enables the interviewer to sell the company to you is always a good idea, as is expressing further interest in the job and then asking how they see you fitting in.
8. Always follow up
Do not wait to hear the phone ring to see if you have been successful. Think about sending a short email to thank the interviewer for seeing you. Include a brief precis showing how well you think you will fit in to the company. This will put you way ahead of the majority who do not bother to follow up. Conclude by inviting them to contact you if they have any further unanswered questions. If you still have not heard for a while, then it’s not unreasonable for you to phone and politely ask when the decision will be made.
Applying these eight tips will not only provide confidence for your graduate audit interview, but also help you stand out from all the other applicants.
Simon Wright, CareersinAudit.com