Preparing for the interview

Grégory Delrue, an accounting and finance recruiter (*) , says there are seven points to carefully prepare before going for a job interview:

  1. Analyzing the job posting
  2. Finding out about the company
  3. Assessing your skills
  4. Preparing for the recruiter’s questions
  5. Preparing questions to ask the recruiter
  6. Preparing your references and your presentation

(*) Comment réussir mon entrevue d’embauche [how to have a successful job interview], Grégory Delrue, Collections Affaires Plus, 2006

FINDING OUT ABOUT THE COMPANY

Your motivation is tested based in part on the knowledge you have about the company and its sector. Do some digging so as to gather a maximum of useful information on the company’s activities, recent happenings, its history, main competitors, organizational culture, size and key numbers (sales, number of employees, founding date, etc.)

PREPARING QUESTIONS TO ASK

Show your interest by preparing a few questions to ask about the company and the job.

EXAMPLES:

  • How is your finance department structured?
  • Who will my boss be?
  • What are your current financial and accounting projects?
  • I read that your recently purchased a competitor. What are the impacts on the finance department?
  • Why did you switch accounting systems?
  • Which tax software do you use?
  • What are the possibilities for advancement?
  • Do you offer skills training?
  • Why is the position vacant?

ASSESSING YOUR SKILLS

The interview allows recruiters to study your financial and accouning qualifications, along with your personality. To give convincing answers, you have to describe yourself clearly, without hesitating. Renée Belleville, Accountemps hiring manager and accounting recruiting specialist, advises doing some soul searching to determine

  • your strengths
  • what you need to work on
  • what motivates you
  • what you dislike the most
  • your ideal job

According to psychologist Eveline Marcil-Denault , you should back up each of your skills with a specific experience. She suggests creating a table of the required skills and your corresponding experiences.

EXAMPLE: 

Leadership Managed the accounting and payroll department (20 people)
Initiative Developed and implemented a new inventory control procedure
Service oriented Assisted the financial information service: answered requests for information from internal clients
Good communicator  Presented and promoted financial recommendations to investors

PREPARING FOR THE RECRUITER’S QUESTIONS

Eveline Marcil-Denault identifies types of questions that are used:

  • Close-ended questions: “Are you an organized person?”
  • Behavioural questions (based on past experience):  “How did you organize yourself when you were called on to manage the implementation of a new financial system?”
  • Situation questions: “If you had several priorities to manage at the same time, how would you go about it?”
  • Questions to check your understanding:  “Describe how you see organization.”

Here are a few examples of frequently asked questions that you should practise so as not to stumble during the interview:

  • How would you describe yourself?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What are your strengths?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • How could your experience be of use here?
  • Why are you interested in this job?
  • How do you see your role as . . . (name of job)?
  • Which job did you like the most/the least? Why?
  • What are you most proud of professionally?
  • What have you learned from your mistakes?
  • How do you react to the unexpected?
  • What qualities do you like in a boss?
  • Can you work under pressure?
  • What are your professional objectives?
  • If you were in my shoes, who would you hire?

Also be prepared to justify your past:

  • Has one of your work experiences not been in your speciality? Expect to justify this variance.
  • Have you experienced a professional failure? Explain it, and show that you were able to learn from your mistakes.

Give specific, clear and concise answers to the questions asked.

Tip: To familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of recruiting interviews and get used to the types of questions that are usually asked, read material intended for recruiters. 

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