Land The Job: Pointers and Tips For Interview Season

College is back in session and you’re on campus getting settled into your new course schedule and workflow. Two weeks later, you’re hitting your academic groove when you’re informed that some of the region’s most influential accounting firms are coming to recruit upcoming grads. Great, right?

Yes and no.

While connecting with leading accounting firms is exciting, it can also feel daunting. You can quickly find yourself overwhelmed with how to balance your school load and somehow dazzle future employers at a recruiting session. Fortunately, you have options. Here are three simple tips to help you put your best foot forward and maximize every opportunity this interview season.

Tip 1: Tap Into University Resources

The first step in a successful interview season? Leverage the tools and resources offered at your university. Many colleges provide trained professionals on staff to help with some the basics, like writing a cover letter, handling tough interview questions, and what to wear. The best part? All of these wonderful on-campus resources are available for free.

Tip 2: Connect Online

Once you’ve gotten your resume together and picked out your interview wardrobe, get online and reach out on social media to people and groups who already work in your desired role. As a student in grad school, I reached out to alumni that had completed the same programs I had and were now working at local firms. I picked their brains to get insight into what firms were looking for – and quickly realized the interview process wasn’t what I initially assumed. I learned that I would likely not be hearing accounting questions in my interviews, but rather getting to know the firm staff and recruiting personnel. The firms wanted to get to know me as a person, rather than quiz my accounting knowledge. I used this invaluable intel to my advantage when prepping for screening.

Tip 3: No Experience? Focus On Your Skills

As a new college grad, you struggle to imagine yourself in a specific position simply because you don’t believe you have the experience needed for success. Instead of focusing on experience, showcase your unique set of skills and capabilities. An exercise I like to perform with the students I mentor at the University of New Hampshire goes something like this: imagine the job you want in 5 years. List all of the attributes you associate with a person holding that position. Students will list traits, such as:

  • Organized
  • Professional
  • Critical thinker
  • Flexible

I then challenge the students to list all of the attributes they possess, whether it’s from working at a restaurant last summer or manning the phones during a phone-a-thon for their favorite cause. I’ll hear words like:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Problem solver
  • Patience
  • Effective communicator

Very quickly, the students begin to make the connections between their two lists. Just because I have never been a tax practitioner doesn’t mean I don’t have the tools in my tool belt to become one. I have a background in hospitality and the skills I learned running the front of the house during busy nights showcases my ability to think quickly on my feet, mitigate potential issues with guests, and communicate, not only with our staff, but with our customers as well.

Every Interview Is An Opportunity To Grow And Learn

The interview process can be stressful and rejection is often part of the process. However, it’s also an excellent opportunity to learn how to navigate challenges and discern exactly what type of job will make you happy. I once lost out on a job due to my enthusiasm (true story). At the time, I was upset. Looking back, I know that if I had taken the job, I would have been unfulfilled, as my enthusiasm and attitude towards my work would likely have been out of place in that work environment. Be gentle with yourself during this process. Know that when you’re uncomfortable, it’s a sign that you’re growing. Embrace the uncertainties of this process and be open to new opportunities as they unfurl until you find the right match for you.