How to Shine in an Interview- ACCA

A career in finance can bring great rewards. Its interesting, challenging and can take you all over the world.

Sounds good, right? So you’ve found the job you want, but how can you make sure you get it?

You’ve got to win over that interview room, stand out against other applicants and show you’re the only one for the job.

So, how can you do that…?


Go on…sell yourself

You have just seconds for your CV to make a big impression and get you to the next stage, an interview.

Joanna Pringle, principal consultant with Executive Connections, says: “Make sure you prepare and research. Competition for a quality trainee position will be high and it’s foolish to rush your application.

“Research the company and tailor your CV to highlight relevant experience. You never have one type of CV.”

DO highlight your personal qualities and any experience that’s relevant to the job. Keep it clear and easy to read.

DON’T overload your CV with too much irrelevant detail.

Once you’re done, check and then check again. Get someone else to read your CV. They may spot something you haven’t.


Be your own brand

It’s a fun way to keep connected with friends and family, but when used properly social media can be an important work tool.

Use Twitter and LinkedIn to connect with others in the finance profession and to keep on top of news and comment.

Chat and share relevant reports and research, and people will soon recognise your name. Employers will see how you interact with others and how ‘in touch’ you are.

Nicholas Kirk, regional managing director at Page Personnel Finance, says: “Many businesses now embrace social media as part of their talent attraction strategy. A potential employer can discover a sense of your personality before an interview that they don’t necessarily get from your CV and cover letter.”

DO Be aware of who you follow and what you publish online.

DON’T Forget to keep your social media, website or blog right up to date.

Employers often research potential staff by scanning social media. Stay topical and professional at all times.


Experience counts

Employers want staff with the right qualifications. But they also want people who have the right character for their business.

Someone who has shown initiative, has concern for others, has interests outside of work.

Showcase your experiences on your CV and prepare to talk about them at your interview.

Just try to make sure it’s relevant to the job you want.

DO Mention voluntary work, charity work and internships. All can create a good impression, show you leadership and project management skills.

DON’T Avoid mentioning temporary jobs. Many accountants regard temporary working as a lifestyle choice.

Interests and experiences are part of your unique package. Show off your personality.


Knowledge is power

It’s one thing to study and get qualifications.

But to have the edge, you have to stay up to date with the finance industry, how it works and who the key players are.

Joanna adds: “Do plenty of research. Talk to people working in different industries and specialisms; contrast and compare lists of your interests, strengths and needs, and talk to tutors and recruitment experts who can point you in the right direction.”

Before interviews, check the company’s website and get to know their targets and latest news.

DO Look out for training and networking opportunities.

DON’T Try to be an expert in everything. That’s impossible.

Being aware of industry developments means you can talk authoritatively during your interview and with fellow professionals.


Have the right answers

No matter how well you’ve prepared, you’ll probably still feel anxious during an interview.

And although it can feel awkward to talk about yourself, this is your big chance to highlight your best features.

One popular question is ‘what’s your greatest weakness?’ Be realistic and stress how you’re working to make improvements.

Lorraine Twist, operating director at Michael Page Finance, says: “Some employers test a candidate’s ability by adding a ‘curve ball’ question. With most, there are no correct answers; the only wrong answer is becoming flustered and unable to reply at all.”

DO Prepare properly, rehearse your answers.

DON’T Try to avoid the questions. Answer honestly and as best you can.

Interviewers want to know how you’ll cope under pressure. This is your chance to set yourself apart from everyone else.


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