Continuing in efforts to best prepare you for your next job (maybe one you’ll land through GC Jobs) I wanted talk about interviewing.
By this point you have a nice polished resume and well worded cover letter. You networked your ass off (or called back one of the 15 recruiters that calls you every week) and landed an interview with a great company. Now it’s time to get down to the essentials necessary to succeed at the interview. Today we’ll touch on everything you need to do beforehand. We’ll touch on Game Day essentials in Part Two.
- You mentioned you started in public accounting as well. Do you have any advice for someone looking to make the transition from public to private? DB: You are finding common ground with your interviewer.
- What is the culture/work environment like here?" DB: You are moving beyond the Xs and Os of the job and trying to understand if you’d be a good fit for them.
- You mentioned that this role has been open for some time. Have you seen any challenges in filling the position? That is, what's the skillset you’re looking for? DB: This is a professional way to ask why the hell it’s taking the company 14 months to fill a controller position.
- This position reports directly to you. How can the person hired for this position really add value on day one? DB: They will likely ramble off a few things they’re looking for in the hire. When they’re finished, grab one and talk about how you have developed the trait for yourself.
- The job description is very detailed, which is great. But how do you see this role developing over the long term, a year or two from now?" DB: You want to make it clear that you are looking for a long term fit; no better way to do that than asking about long term career trajectories.
- You mentioned that you have been with the company for twelve years. That’s great. What has kept you excited and energized about working here? DB: Again, you’re asking about the long term.
Next page: You've got all (or at least some) of the answers.
Know Your Answers
With every interview you take, you will inevitably be asked questions that seem like a waste of time — they’re not. Leverage off the bland questions and talk positively (but humbly!) about yourself. Be prepared. Nothing sucks the life out of the room like someone stumbling over one of the basics.
- Tell me a bit about yourself. — This shouldn’t be a long answer. If you are interviewing for your first job out of public, touch on where you went to school (e.g. University of Virginia), where you started your career (e.g. PwC) and a bit about your time there. Transition your brief story with a line about why you are looking outside of your firm now, keeping things positive. “I’m looking to transition to a new and rewarding challenge” sounds better than “If I do one more busy season I’ll end up addicted to Adderall and Xanax.”
- What are your major clients? — It is okay to speak about your clients in an interview. They are your calling cards, your body of work, etc. You should be proud about leading the team on a multi-million dollar engagement. Speak more generally about a client if you are discussing a specific issue relevant to the conversation.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses? — Cliche yes, but you’ll be asked this at some point. My advice is also cliche but well researched — do your best to make your “negatives” be also positive. “I have a tendency to review my work in great detail, maybe taking time from other projects.” Stay away from brutal truths like, “I keep my staff late even when they don’t need to be at the office.”
- Why are you interested in working here? — Stroke their ego and touch on the intangibles — long term growth, the culture, the industry, etc. Use broad strokes in order to hit on personal nerve that they’ll relate to.
- Give me an example of a time when you were faced with a difficult decision. (or) Tell me about a time when you were wrong and how you faced the issue. — There’s a difference between showing humility and being a total screw up. Walk the line carefully.
Up next: Final planning
- Always ask how much time to budget for the first round of interviews — Then add 30 minutes.
- Know where you are going — Confirm the address and add time for commuting. A major pile-up on I-95 is bound to happen the day of your interview.
- Using a recruiter? Press them for previous candidate feedback. A good recruiter will prep you well for your interview, but sometimes you need to ask. They will know questions that were asked in interviews or curve balls you should expect to be thrown your way.