Interviewers are looking for certain skills for each job, but personality is more important - particularly when you are applying for a training contract with us. We can give you the skills you need to become a qualified accountant, but we are looking for people who can bring the right attitude and character to the firm.
Always ensure that you attend an interview in business attire, preferably a suit, which is clean and fresh. Simple things like brushing your hair, polishing your shoes and shaking the interviewers hand confidently all help to create a good first impression; we need to know that we can send you to our clients’ premises and you can represent our firm professionally.
All candidates are asked the same opening questions to ensure consistency across interviews. The interviewer will then ask probing questions to follow-up on your responses. Notes will be taken by your interviewers so we can assess your performance once it’s all over, and so we can provide feedback.
Before the interview, think about the skills and behaviours that you think you’ll need to be successful in the role. Try to think of examples where you can demonstrate those behaviours in your past experience, no matter how small these may seem. Remember to be honest in these examples; if you are challenged on these then you need to be confident in your response. You are not expected to know everything at this stage!
Make notes of any examples you think of while preparing. It’s OK to refer to these throughout the interview as a prompt, but they should not be used as a script that you read out to the interviewer when asked a relevant question.
You shouldn’t feel that you must immediately jump in to respond to a question. For example, you can say to the interviewer: “Please can I take a moment to gather my thoughts.” Take a short time to think of a specific example that would best demonstrate your capabilities; the interviewer will wait for you.
Ensure that you listen carefully and fully understand the question and what is required before responding. When providing an example, it’s important to demonstrate what you personally did in that situation. Avoid responding in general terms; the interviewer is not looking for what you might do, but is more interested in what you actually did. Provide clear, concise and informative responses. Give enough detail that the interviewer understands the example and you can demonstrate your ability in that area, but not so much that your key messages are lost.
At the end of any interview you will be invited to ask questions. Make sure you have carried out some research on the firm, and on the office you have applied to, and always ensure that you have at least one or two questions that will show you are interested in the role. Make notes of the answers you are given.