What to expect in your interview

Interview


Interview


Successful Application

If your application is successful you will typically be invited to a presentation evening where the firm talks about their company and what they do as well as providing an opportunity to talk to trainees in your prospective department to get a feel for the type of work done. The next stage will then be the interview and this process will vary across firms. Some firms will just have a single interview while others may have two interviews and a business case exercise between these two also – it is important you research each firm’s process to understand what is involved.

Interview

For many students this will be their first formal interview and a daunting prospect. In the majority these interviews are no more than informal chats with the main purpose of it to understand a bit more about you and your background while also discussing your CV/application in more detail. That being said these are still a crucial period in your milkround process – your grades will have gotten you through the application process but it is now up to you to portray your knowledge, motivation and ability to close the deal!

Interview Tips

  • Have your business attire purchased well in advance to remove one item from the to do list
  • Research the company and the job – attend presentations, talk to past trainees
  • When in doubt go smart – it is easier to quickly dress down than dress up
  • Print out your application and bring it with you in a small folder to the interview
  • Know your CV/application form inside out
  • Have a broad range of examples to verify your skill set – college, sports, work experience etc
  • Pre-empt certain questions  from the interviewer – eg why firm x, current business affairs knowledge?
  • Attend your colleges career service workshops on interview skills etc
  • Always have one or two questions to ask at the end of the interview

Have a read of my blog post on interviews

Typical Interview Questions

Bread & Butter

These are the typical interview questions that you should be well prepared to answer

  • Why firm x?
  • Why business area y?
  • What do you think is one of the most important issues in today’s current business environment?
  • What did you learn from your work experience in xxx?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
  • What motivated you to apply for x?
  • What is your main weakness?
  • What is your main strength?
  • What is the difference between us and the (other) big four firms?

Competency Based Questions

A competency based interview is based on the premise that best indication of future behaviour is past behaviour.  The interviewer will ask you about your competencies and to give examples to back up your skills described. There are many approaches to answering these type questions (one being the STAR technique). Having a varied set of examples to cover a wide range of competencies is crucial – from college, work experience, sports, extra curricular activities etc.

  • Give me an example of where you resolved a crisis
  • Are you a good team player?
  • Tell me about the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome within your career to date
  • Have you ever taken a leadership role?
  • Give me an example of where you had to manage multiple deadlines and time scheduling
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make good use of your communication skills

Application/CV Based Questions

These will derive directly from the interviewer’s reading of your application so it is vital to know your application inside out and to get someone else to think of questions from reading the application.

  • There appears to be a gap year in your CV – what did you do during that year?
  • What did you learn from your internship in xx that would be useful in this role?

Non Accounting Graduates

These will be the typical questions regarding motivation, interest and ability that will come from interviewers.

  • Why have you chosen this career now?
  • What skills have you that you think are suited to our department?
  • When did you develop an interest in accounting and business?

The Juggler/Curveball

These are typically questions intended to throw you and are designed to test your ability to think on your feet in a pressurised environment. The questions are unlikely to have a single correct answer and you should take your time to give a considered response as you will likely be asked to explain your reasoning. I have not heard of anyone getting such a type of question in a milkround interview but at least you will be armed with some novel Friday afternoon office questions for when you start working!

  • Why are manhole covers round?
  • How many cars were registered in Ireland in 2012?
  • How many qualified accountants are in Ireland?
  • What three people would you bring to a dinner party and why?