Interview Tips for an Onsite Interview

  • Homework – make a list of your accomplishments (quantifiable results)
  • Dress for success – your need to be confident, polished and enthusiastic
  • Be consultative – find out what they want done
  • Demonstrate you can do it – Tell “war stories” if need be, focus on positive, be concise.
  • Trial Close – ask if they think you can solve their problems? Or is there any reason they would hesitate to make you an offer.
  • Handle objections – use accomplishments to demonstrate your ability
  • Close – ask for the job (see below)
  • Communicate – eye contact, body language, verbally.
  • Most important- show enthusiasm, passion and energy for what you do.

The following will help sell you more than anything else

  • Be on time. Do not reschedule the interview unless it is a legitimate emergency – accident and in the hospital! If you are not on time, the hiring manager will view you as unprofessional.
  • Be ready to answer questions such as what the company will expect you to accomplish in a month, quarter, year; what obstacles they will need to overcome; etc. It is important that you maintain eye contact at all times, and respond with positive comments and examples such as “I can do that; I’ve done that before, let me give you an example, etc.”
  • You should ask questions such as “Have I convinced you that I can do what is necessary to accomplish the goals we have discussed; is there anything that would prevent you from making me an offer, etc.”

The hiring decision is almost always based on the fact that the candidate is qualified and has chemistry with the interviewers. The chemistry that is created by you should be enthusiastic, confident and pleasantly aggressive. You should express enthusiasm, energy and passion for what you do!!!

You should also “know” and ask questions about the company. And if after the interview you are not interested in the job – you can be professional and still indicate that you will be pursuing other opportunities.

Companies hire people to solve their problems. It is important you are reminded not to dwell on a skill set that you may not be strong in, focus on the positives. Hiring managers are not impressed with what you don’t know – they want to hear what you do know.

Never bring up compensation in the interview, if the interviewer does, answer their questions honestly. Try to leave negotiations for later, this is our job. Usually we will not know whether or not the company is planning to make an offer until after the interview is complete.

When you know the time is right for you to ask questions, usually after you’ve answered a lot of questions or you are asked if you have any questions, be clear and concise. Try to get answers to a few basic questions, such as, what must a candidate for this position accomplish immediately – or over the first three to six to nine months? What skills or experiences should a candidate in this position possess? Asking these questions will give you a clearer understanding of what you must achieve at this job.

Remember: Always be positive, confident and pleasant, and you will do great!

Interview Dos

  • Arrive on time or a few minutes early.
  • If presented with an application, fill it out neatly and completely. Don’t attach your resume unless you’re told to do so.
  • Greet the interviewer by last name if you are sure of the pronunciation. If not, ask the employer to repeat it.
  • Project energy and enthusiasm. Smile and shake hands firmly.
  • Wait until you’re offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright, look alert and interested at all times. Listen carefully and respond succinctly and articulately.
  • Look the hiring manager in the eye while speaking.
  • Early in the meeting, try to get the interviewer to describe the job and the duties to you so you can focus your responses on your background, skills and accomplishments that relate to the position.
  • Treat your interviewer as if they are a new audience. It may feel like you are repeating the same answers and questions over and over again as you meet more people throughout the day.
  • Be aware of maintaining your energy level. If they offer you a break, take it even if you don’t need to. It is easier to maintain your energy by taking these breaks to hydrate versus attempting to regain your energy once you’ve detected it is deteriorating.
  • At the end of your interview, if you are excited and interested in the positions, then let them know! Honesty and enthusiasm will ignite their interest in you.
  • Also at the end, ask them what the next step in the interviewing process is, and when that will happen. It is another way of showing genuine interest and enthusiasm for the position.
  • Be sincere and truthful while focusing on communicating your specific professional achievements that relate to the accounting or finance job opening.
  • Obtain a business card from everyone you meet, and send out a short thank you note as a timely follow-up, either through email or handwritten in the mail.

Interview Don’ts

  • Don’t answer with a simple “yes” or “no.” Explain whenever possible.
  • If you don’t understand a question – or need a moment to think about it – say so. Never pretend to know something or someone when you don’t.
  • Don’t rely on your application or resume to do the selling for you. Interviewers will want you to be convincing.
  • Don’t make negative remarks about present or former employers. When explaining your reasons for leaving, communicate your rationale professionally.
  • Don’t over-answer questions. If the interviewer steers the conversation into controversial – or even illegal – topics, try to do more listening than speaking. Keep your responses non-committal.
  • At the end, do not ask the interviewer if you did well.
  • Don’t inquire about salary, vacations, benefits, bonuses or retirement on the initial interview unless you are sure the employer is interested in hiring you. If the interviewer asks what salary you want, give a range based on your research of the job market, but indicate that you’re more interested in the opportunity for continued learning and professional development than in a specific salary.

Being Prepared

Preparation is essential to remaining calm under pressure and is the first step toward a successful interview. Here are some tips:

  • Give yourself plenty of time to get there.
  • Ask about parking availability before you go.
  • Know the exact place and time of the meeting, the interviewer’s full name (including correct pronunciation) and his or her title.
  • Research the company through the Internet or the library to learn relevant facts such as annual sales revenue, principal lines of business and locations.
  • Visit the company’s website and learn about their overview, mission statement, recent events and news about the company, and bios of the people you will be meeting with.
  • Look your professional best. Wear business attire in neutral colors and be conservative in your use of fragrance, cosmetics and jewelry.
  • Prepare answers for the questions you are most likely to be asked. Write down examples or instances that clearly explain and support your ability to do the job.
  • Organize the night before. Your interview clothing, briefcase and portfolio should all be prepared. Get a good night’s rest.
  • Re-read your resume before the interview.
  • Prepare a list of professional references that you can leave with the interviewer (in case they ask for one). Make sure the people you listed know that you are looking for a new position and that they might be contacted.
  • Arrive poised and confident. Bring several copies of your resume and a list of references. Greet your interviewer with a firm handshake and an enthusiastic smile.

Likely Interview Questions

Tell me about yourself
Be prepared to respond to the question, “tell me about yourself,” by creating a 15-second “sound bite” that describes your professional background and strongest skills in two or three sentences. Vary your response according to the specific job opportunity and offer a brief description of why you would be a good fit for the position. One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to rehearse with a tape recorder and then critique your answers.

Tell me about your background, accomplishments, strengths and weaknesses.
Employers who ask this question are usually looking for a short synopsis of your experience. Be sure to demonstrate how you’ve developed professionally and be objective when listing your strengths and weaknesses.

How would you describe your most recent job performance?
Hiring managers tend to ask this question in order to gauge your level of enthusiasm for the work that you do. They’re also looking for a direct connection between your current position and the one for which you’re applying.

What interests you about our company?
This question seems straightforward, but it can sometimes be difficult to answer if you haven’t thought about it beforehand. There are two important factors to include in your answer. The first is to use your knowledge of the company to show your sincere interest. Second, give a specific reason the position for which you’re applying appeals to you (other than the fact that you need a job).

Why are you looking for a new position right now?
Be sure to emphasize career advancement and fulfillment as your main reason for wanting to leave your old job and search for a new one. Avoid negative talk about your past employer – focus on YOUR needs and ambitions.

Who was your most difficult boss and why?
It’s imperative to be as diplomatic as possible when answering this question. Avoid becoming too personal; instead, focus on your previous supervisor’s management style and the manner in which he or she communicated. The interviewer is looking for some indication as to how well you would get along with your future boss, if you were hired.

What outside activities are most significant to your personal development?
Many employers ask this question to see what kind of balance you are looking for between your personal and professional lives. While it’s good to list one or two activities, be careful not to list too many activities as the employer may wonder if outside interest will interfere with your work.

Where do you see yourself in five years? In ten years?
Avoid mapping out a detailed plan when answering this question. Instead, describe what you feel is the next logical step or steps in your career path.