Blog Archive

Friday, January 6, 2012

The McGladrey Interview Diaries - Campus Edition - Part 2

Written by Robyn Brooks
Talent Acquisition - Campus & Entry Level
New York, NY

Yesterday during Part 1 of the Interview Diaries, I shared some stories, tips, and common interview experiences. Today I’ll dig in deeper and share one of my more embarrassing interview experiences and discuss the importance of a first impression!

There is a saying, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” and how true it is!  A first impression can go either way, but the idea is to make it positive and memorable.  Joel Shamon, our Northeast Assurance Line of Business Leader, once interviewed a candidate, and he recounted how badly he felt for the candidate, who arrived poorly dressed with his tie tied incorrectly. “It was clear he’d never interviewed before from the way he dressed and spoke,” Joel said, “and I spent the next thirty minutes coaching him on how to properly interview.”  Pretty lucky guy, to be coached by a partner! 

This reminds me of my first interview at a well known television program.  I had not done any research on the show, and when the interviewer asked me “who are the hosts of the show?” I was mortified.  I had no idea (and they are only some of the most notable TV journalists around!).  She coached me as well that day, and I learned a lot from that experience, as embarrassing as it was.  I understood that researching the firm inside and out, as if you were already employed there, was fundamental.  Knowing enough information to ask good questions is key.  Employers always want you to ask questions.  Even asking the same question to different interviewers is important, as you may receive different answers.  Alas, this was my first, first impression, and it was a poor one! 

“It’s hard to overcome a negative first impression,” Joel remarks. But sometimes all you need is a good conversation.  “It was my very first on-campus interview and I was very nervous,” Joel relates.  “Thirty minutes into the conversation, I realized all we’ve been talking about was the World Series.”  Sometimes employers just want to see if they could have a conversation with a potential employee.  Easy going conversations are certainly a plus.  This reflects the way you will work alongside your colleagues, and speak to clients.  EJ, Tax Line of Business Leader, agrees and urges candidates to follow through and be concise when giving examples. “Stay focused,” EJ advises, “I am generally more concerned about seeing communication skills, orientation to teamwork and thinking on your feet than I am concerned about the example itself.”  

In the course of a conversation, you may feel relaxed – but don’t forget, this is still an interview, getting too comfortable may not be such a good thing either.  Your interviewer may ask direct questions about yourself that you should know.  A question such as, “What type of position are you looking for?” is important to answer correctly.  If you answer, “I’ll do tax, audit, consulting or whatever you have available,” shows me that you actually have no idea what you want, and it actually narrows my options of placing you.  EJ Nedder asks a question that you should always have an answer for, “Why does our firm better allow you to achieve your goals than another firm?”  This question is asking more than it seems on the surface- it encourages you to know enough about the firm and other firms and the accounting industry, that you can compare each to fit your needs.  No one knows you better than you do, but the best advice our Line of Business Leaders and I can give you, is make sure you can communicate that to us.

Our leaders, who harness incredible successes, also know that no situation and no one is perfect.  We are all only human, and may need a little guidance now and then. The following are what I believe to be the top five bullet points for a successful interview.

      Know what you want and communicate it
      Research the firm and have questions
      Have a conversation and be concise
      Have a sense of humor
      Make a positive first impression

There are so many points of advice to share, but when it comes down to it, your interviews will get you jobs (hopefully), but they will also help you grow – and allow you to tell a story of how you got to your success place.

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