By Jeremy M. Jacobs, Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP
The accounting firm recruiting season is an exciting and hectic time for any accounting student. Having just undergone this process myself last fall, I wanted to share some information which may help you navigate this stage in your career. To help prepare you for what lies ahead, I have authored a series of blog posts focused on the three stages of the accounting firm recruiting season—Meet the Firms, On-Campus Interviews, and Office Visits.
I will be writing from my own experience as an accounting student at UNC-Wilmington, and while I recognize each school has a different approach to the structure of the individual events, the concepts and principles remain the same. I hope you benefit from this series and wish you the best of luck with the upcoming recruiting season.
This is the second post in a three-part series focused on the accounting firm recruiting process. Read the first post: Meet the Firms: Tips from a Former Accounting Student.
By now, you should have completed the Meet the Firms events and you are preparing for the on-campus interviews which will typically take place within a few weeks of the Meet the Firms event.
For the purpose of this article, I will not be discussing interviewing techniques or styles. Instead, I will be outlining things you should do to prepare for, and expect from, this part of the process. I recommend utilizing your school’s career center for mock interviews, and using Google identify different types of interview questions (behavioral and conversational).
It is very important to prepare well in advance for your on-campus interviews.
First, know where the interview is taking place on your campus and where to park. You should plan to arrive 10–15 minutes early, so I recommend doing a practice walkthrough to the interview location the day before the event. By doing so, you will not get lost or have unnecessary stress the day of the interview.
The night before the interview, the firms will most likely host a dinner for all of the interviewees and representatives of the firm. The dinner atmosphere is typically business casual, but remember, you are still being observed. This is a great opportunity to locate your interviewer and have an initial conversation before the actual interview takes place the next day. Keep in mind that at some of these events alcohol will be served. If you are typically not a person who drinks, this is not the time to start. If you decide to have a drink, be conservative. Have only one and stick with wine or beer.
Make sure you dress in business professional for the interview, do not wear anything flashy or trendy, and avoid wearing cologne or perfume. I am not sure what the interview rooms will look like at your school, but I can tell you that the ones UNCW used were extremely small. The only thing between the interviewer and me was a narrow table. Don’t wear anything that will distract the interviewer.
Make sure you have an updated copy of your resume to present to the interviewer, as the copy they have might be outdated. Be sure to include any updated information that you have (i.e. CPA exam scores). A good practice is to have a prepared list of questions and have some talking points written down. Again, I cannot stress this enough, research the firm and write down some information about it before the interview. It is appropriate to bring a padfolio with you to the interview for reference and to write down some quick notes.
When you arrive at the interview site, you will be met by greeters from the firm. These professionals are likely first or second year associates who were in your shoes only a few years back. Use this time to get their prospective of what it is like working for the firm and making the transition from student to employee.
As the interview concludes, inquire about the next steps in the process. Make sure you receive a business card and thank your interviewer for their time. Do not forget to follow up with the individual, as follow-up is a vital part of this entire process.
I wish you the best of luck with your on-campus interviews and encourage you to look for my final blog in this series: Office Visits.
Jeremy M. Jacobs is an audit associate with Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP. He received his MSA and Bachelors in accounting from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Jeremy has served as the student liaison for the Young CPA cabinet and as a board member for the Cape Fear chapter. Currently he is a member of the Student Outreach, Advancement and Recruitment Committee (SOAR).