As a recently or newly qualified ACA you are in a unique position at this stage in your career in that unlike those that qualified whilst working in industry you won’t necessarily have any previous experience of doing the job you are interviewing for so the interview won’t be as focused on your previous experience as it will be on your attributes, skills and future potential.
Do your research
We don’t mean just reading through the job spec! Our clients will not necessarily require you to have worked in their sector, but they will expect you to be able to demonstrate genuine interest and to have therefore done some research into the business. It’s also worth knowing a little bit about current industry trends or issues, reading recent articles about the company or wider sector and being aware of who the company’s competitors are. You can do online research – but also use your network of contacts and ask the recruitment consultant briefing you on the role (any decent consultant will know their sector!).
Think about why they want you
Companies don’t recruit newly qualified ACAs because they have previous experience in that role (unless it’s an audit position) however they are looking for evidence of certain skills in key areas. Clients tell us that they specifically want candidates from a practice background because of their work ethic; analytical skills and ability to review large amounts of data and draw conclusions from it; their experience of working with and presenting to senior stakeholders and their ability to focus on the detail – so think about examples you can use to demonstrate that.
Don’t assume you should wear a suit
Dressing appropriately for an interview shows that you appreciate the culture of the company and while it’s great to dress smartly don’t assume you need to wear a suit. Many of our clients in Tech and Media have a smart/casual or even casual dress code. It’s not unknown for candidates to make a bad first impression at interview – by wearing a suit! Again a good consultant should be able to advise you on what you should wear, and while you shouldn’t aim to be the most casually dressed you also want to give the impression that you will fit in.
Remember it’s about personality as well as skills
The fantastic thing about accounting roles now is that many of them are increasingly business facing, so you need to demonstrate that you are the type of person that can interact successfully with a variety of stake holders across the company. Most of our clients are looking for relaxed professionalism rather than corporate formality. So concentrate on developing a warm, confident and enthusiastic communication style. You should put as much focus on trying to develop rapport as you do on communicating your skills and experience.
Assume you’re one of ten candidates
With all the attention you will get from recruiters when you have qualified, it’s easy to start thinking that every interview is a sure thing and that great jobs are like apples waiting for you to pick off the tree. In reality you are probably not the only candidate chasing those opportunities. There is nothing that will guarantee you don’t get the job like a dose of arrogance or complacency – so you should always approach an interview like you are one of ten rather than one of one.
TalentEdge recruit finance roles across Tech, Media & Consumer. Over the years we have helped hundreds of ACAs get their first job in Industry. If would like to get more advice on preparing for interview please do get in touch with me at email@example.com
To access all our ACA guides and advice or contact a consultant about roles in a specific sector click on the link below.