5 Bad Attitudes In Job Interviews, And How To Avoid Them

#5. Negative

People like to be surrounded by positive people. You may hate your existing job or your boss, but whining is not appropriate at all in interviews. Also, complaints kill conversations. Don’t do it.

#4. Repetitive

Some people repeat themselves without knowing it. What you can do is to videotape the 2-3 minute sales pitch of yourself and see how you do. If you have the tendency to repeat, it will show.

If the interviewer doesn’t seem to get what you said, move on. Either the conversation gets boring and he zooms out, or it’s not interesting enough to get a noticeable response. Repeat what you just said will double the damage.

#3. Unenthusiastic

Real story:

Me: Why are you interested in our firm?

Candidate: Well, I saw a posting on the career board and you know, why not give it a try.

If you show this level of enthusiasm, you might as well not show up.

You don’t need to remember the name of the CEO and the year the firm was established, but at least research on basic information e.g. the spelling and proper pronunciation of the company’s name, brief history, field of specialty and its competitors. No excuse not to do it in this age of the Internet.

Also, think hard on how you can fit into the firm and the industry in general. For example, if you are interviewing for an accounting position in a hospital, in additional to demonstrating your ability as an accountant, it is very helpful to show an interest (better yet,  a passion) in working in the healthcare industry.

#2. Not Trustworthy / Dishonest

I always ask my readers to give their experience a positive spin, or to reframe the experience to better reflect what the company is looking for.

Note that while repackaging or even some exaggeration is fine, an out-right lie is not. Ethics and integrity is the core of accountancy. On a practical note, it is difficult to keep lying as the conversation builds on after several rounds of interviews.

#1. Brash, Arrogant and Downright Stupid

Imagine an accountant holding a can of Pepsi when pitching for business at Coca Cola. No one would be stupid enough to do anything close to that right?. You will be surprised.

When I worked at Morgan Stanley, I once interviewed a senior in college who brought along a Goldman Sachs bag to show off. I remember he had good grades and presented himself quite well, but nothing could have changed my first (and very bad) impression of him.

The Bottom Line

  1. Be Likable. Think of the most popular professionals you met in the current job. What are they like? Why are they well liked?
  2. Be Confident. Be well prepared with a unique story, then present in a way that is both friendly and professional.

You can easily beat 95% of the candidates with these tips alone. Good luck!

Tips on cover letter, resume and interviews for accountants and finance professionals

Tell me about yourself.

Walk me through your resume.

These are two most common questions we get from any job interviews. In fact, they are asking for the same thing your story in a nutshell.

The Best Interview Question You Can Ever Ask For

I’d be thrilled to get this question. Why?

  • It offers a great opportunity to create the greatest and most memorable first impression. This is your #1 priority in any job interviews.
  • The question is open-ended which means you can guide the interviewer to ask a follow-up question that works to your advantage.

General Rules

  1. Short Answer Please

Provide an interesting and informative answer in 2-3 minutes.

Anything more than 3 minutes is too much for the interviewer (remember, he/she barely knows you). Anything shorter than 30 seconds does not get to the details.

  1. Develop Your Unique Story

The answer is best presented in your story using this framework:

  1. The beginning
  2. The spark
  3. The development
  4. Why you are here today
  5. Aspiration

We will go through each step below.

Your Story

  1. The Beginning

This is the introduction where you give a general idea of who you are. Everyone knows how to do this, but few do it well enough to give a good first impression.

The Wrong Way:

Keep talking forever about your life and get interrupted by the interviewer because it either gets too long or too boring. You end up not talking about the important points, and you lose control over what the interviewer is going to ask you in the next question.

The Right Way:

Make a short and factual  introduction of the essentials, in 2-3 sentences only:

  • Where you are from, where you went to school, and your major/concentration at school
  • Major and relevant experience before current job (optional, only if you don’t have enough to say)
  • Current job or situation

You will talk about the whys in the next step of the framework.

  1. The Spark

This is the place to state why you are interested in accounting. Most people get into the industry because it is somewhat prestigious and make decent money, parents thought it’s a stable job, they are good at numbers (or not  good with people)

Whatever the reason might be, it is likely not to be that interesting and hundreds of candidates before you said exactly the same thing.

  1. The Development

This section talks about how your spark is developed into a career choice in accounting. If you are an accounting student, talk about why you chose the specific school/accounting program and what you have learned.

If you have some experience (internships, volunteer work, jobs in accounting, jobs outside of accounting), then go through them in chronological order, highlighting what you have learned in each stage of your career.

Creating the Perfect Resume

At some point in his or her lives, virtually everyone who is looking for work will need to create a resume. The importance of a good resume cannot be overstated because it is often the only link between you and that good job you are seeking.

It is often said that first impressions last, but a resume is often the only way an employer can determine whether or not he may even want to ever meet you for that first impression. You definitely don’t want that resume that you worked so hard to prepare ending up in the round file (trash can). Here are some helpful hints that will help you achieve the perfect resume to land that dream job you have been seeking.

Introduction:

The first three things employers look for in a resume: Clarity, clarity, & clarity.

Other things they look for:

(1) Neatness (no coffee stains or crumpled edges)

(2) Formatting (follows industry standard norms)

(3) Missing information (i.e. unexplained gaps in employment history)

(4) Questionable claims (e.g. do you really speak fluent Swahili?)

(5) Length (1 page is best but no longer than 2 pages)

(6) Generous blank areas for making notes

(7) Spelling and grammatical errors

Three Basic Styles:

(1) Chronological: (most common)

  1. Emphasizes employment experience
  2. Documents growth in responsibility over time
  3. Best used when pursuing growth on a stable career path

(2) Functional: (less common)

  1. Emphasizes achievements
  2. Focuses on establishment of usable skill sets
  3. Best used when pursuing jobs outside of current career path

(3) Combination or Hybrid: (rare)

  1. Not recommended for most people
  2. Often lacks clarity
  3. May confuse employer

Decide which type of resume best meets your needs and career goals. Keep in mind that most employers are more familiar with the chronological type and prefer it to the functional type. It is best to use the functional resume only when you are changing careers or when a chronological resume would not adequately portray your accumulated experience.

Basic Parts of a Chronological Resume

Contact Information

  1. Your Full Name: Make sure you list your name here exactly as you wish it to appear on your Federal Tax Return. Often, if you are hired, the HR department will use this information to set up your file, and once established, it could be difficult to change.
  2. Address: Make sure it is up to date. You’d be surprised how many people lose out on desirable jobs because they can’t be located at the address listed on the resume.
  3. Phone Number: Don’t forget the area code.
  4. Email Address: Make sure it works before you list it.

 Objective:

  1. No longer recommended for most resumes as they tend to all read the same.
  2. Employers tend to skip over this part.
  3. Tends to be somewhat limiting.
  4. Consider using a summary instead.
  5. May be appropriate for recent graduates and some entry-level jobs.

 Summary:

  1. This is the most important part of the resume because it will either motivate the reader to either continue reading or place your resume in the round file.
  2. One or two sentences maximum.
  3. Focus on who you are, what you do, and where you are going.
  4. Keep it simple and right to the point.
  5. A well-written summary can open up opportunities that you had not anticipated.

 Experience

  1. List your current or last-held job first.
  2. Then list previously held jobs, arranged reverse chronologically.
  3. Go back at least 15 years.
  4. List the Dates of Employment, Employer’s name, City and State, and Position Held. If you held more than one position at this employer treat it as a separate listing.
  5. List your duties and achievements. Leave out items that are common skills and expected for the position held. For example, a receptionist should not say Excellent phone skills because this is expected for that position.