14 Insightful interview tips for Accountancy Professionals

Posted by Lawrence Bond May 16, 2022

An interview is THE most important part of the recruitment process; however, I often worry that it may seem patronising to give senior, commercially astute candidates interview advice. After all, most of our candidates have been recruiters too.

With 25 years’ experience of the recruitment industry, I regularly give targeted advice and offer insights that help my candidates. The results support this and I hope that registering with BondMoran will prove to be a value-add and enable us to work together in the future regardless of how you secure your next role.

The advice we offer is not found in the traditional guides that agencies provide, and we don’t give you a book of 101 questions to prepare answers to. We try to help our applicants get into the mindset of the interviewers and understand their objectives and drivers for each specific role.

This article is clearly not at all exhaustive, however in line with the last piece we sent you it is practical advice that you can apply to any interview.

Whilst it’s a cold way to look at it, an interview is a sales pitch. It should really be a two-way process, although in many cases, it’s considered that the onus is on the candidate (although I don’t subscribe to this!).

Have you recruited many people who you haven’t particularly warmed to?

If the consultancy or internal resource has been effective, every candidate that the interviewer meets, should have the technical skills and capability to do the role. As we all know, regardless of which side of the recruitment desk you’re sitting at, it’s normally the candidate who sells themselves in the best way, creating the most engagement who gets offered the job.

The Warm Up

With this in mind, what do you do to prepare for the engagement between you and the people you’re meeting? Do you have a plan to create an early bond with your contacts?

1) Of course, you’ll check out the normal sources – Job descriptions, websites, maybe the accounts or Glassdoor and other forums. This is all knowledge though and, for us, it’s how you use this.

2) We all know that the first 5 minutes is the most important part of the meeting. Ensure that you throw everything at this to improve your engagement over and above the other candidates they’re meeting.

3) This effort should involve your preparation. Have you looked at the interviewers LinkedIn Profiles for shared connections, groups or interests? Do you know anyone who’s worked at this business previously who you can ask for help, or is the Consultant in a position to help here? If you’re attending via an agency, the Consultant is normally the person who links you together and has met both parties, so use that common contact to your advantage.

4) Have you checked out the Company’s social media for posts by your interviewers? Any common ground can be a far better starting point for you. You can also really drive that engagement by committing their memories to name and using them occasionally.

5) If you are using a consultancy, ensure that they consult! Ensure that you find out about the interviewers’ style and drivers.

6) Find out about the format, the relevant contacts and even try to establish who else the interviewer works with so as you can refer to their involvement.

The Main Event

7) When you arrive, assuming that it’s a face-to-face meeting, never say that you’re there for an interview unless you know it’s common knowledge – Always use ‘meeting’.

The best interviews tend to flow so do your part here. If you’re an interviewer, you expect examples to support statements and you may use competency-based interview techniques.

8) As the candidate, do your best to pre-empt the objections you’ll be facing and have positive, relevant examples or answers in mind. There’s nothing wrong in having notes to hand and, personally I like it when I see that the candidate has made notes on the job description.

9) Ensure that your answers are concise, and where appropriate you may even have questions that you can respond with. The more that the meeting turns into a two-way conversation, the better for all concerned. On that point please ask your questions as the interview progresses and don’t save any more than one or two for the end.

10) If you do ask questions, think about what other ‘average’ candidates might ask and then ensure your questions are better! Find out their systems in advance and ask about an element of how they use this in a certain area, as opposed to just asking what system they use.

11) Whilst you can ask questions about the team, the role, the company or the interviewers, ask questions that help put you above the rest e.g. How important is it to recruit someone who has industry knowledge? etc

12) Finally, for now, and bringing this back to a sales pitch, realise your unique selling points (USP’s). These may not be amazingly different on their own, but brought together and woven into the interview, this can be extremely useful in presenting a powerful case for your recruitment (or at least a second meeting).

Examples of USP’s could be sector or systems experience, locality, academics and professional qualifications, previous exposure to their business or people within it, availability etc.

13) Don’t forget to be nice to receptionists, team members and anyone you meet. It costs nothing to smile, be polite and it’s the small touches that can make a big difference. I always used to ask our front desk how someone acted when they arrived, and it was a factor in the decision-making process.

The Follow Up

14) Follow up swiftly – it shows interest, excitement and all of the elements that you’re likely to seek in a key appointment.

You’ll have to use your commercial acumen; however, this could be passing on feedback to the agency, a LinkedIn connection request or even an email or text if you’ve been given a business card.

Be better than the other candidates at every point and this applies to how you follow up.
If you secure a second meeting, or a telephone interview, then there’s further advice that’s applicable and if we can help, regardless of whether this new role is via BondMoran, get in touch.

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If you have questions, you want to know the top 10 most asked interview questions, you’ve got a referral looking for a mid or senior level accountancy role or you are involved in hiring staff, please contact me on the details below.