Part 1 of 3
A comprehensive survey concluded last year, by AccountingWEB shows that accounting students are still very optimistic about the accounting profession, and shows that traditional values, integrity and honesty are paramount in their decisions of which firms to work for. Most significantly, "reputation" and "culture" have overtaken salary and benefits as the main factors influencing their career decisions.
Below we present Part One: Pre-Interview Tips from the student's/recruits point of view. Here are their suggestions, in "Their Words".
Part One: Prior To The Interview
"What advice would you give potential employers to help the interview process be more effective for both sides?"
Always do a pre-interview social the night before. The firm I accepted a position with did that. I had a chance to meet the partners before the interview. It was not as stressful the next day in the interview. Also the firm can get to know the personalities of the students in an informal setting.
Be open-minded and don't pass judgment on the person before you talk to them.
Be prepared, know whom you are interviewing.
Be up front if there are more than one candidate for a position and let people know their standing in the recruiting process. Interviewing in order to build a potential pool of candidate is dishonest and wastes everyone's time.
Become more familiar with the interviewees.
Choose better interviewers. Students' overall interview and recruiting process really depend on the quality of the interviews and interviewers.
Come with a plan, but not a typewritten sheet of questions. I have been in interviews that switch back and forth from behavioral to situational to general questions and I feel that it is not really beneficial to either side. I have also been in interviews where the interviewer reads questions from a piece of paper--this style leads me to believe that the interviewer does not have much experience and probably is not going to evaluate me correctly (whether that be a favorable or unfavorable evaluation).
Continue with on campus interview opportunities in addition to making other options available such as phone interviews for early rounds.
Do not plan interviews during midterms or finals.
Do NOT schedule interviews during the busy season.
Do several activities to get to know the students, and not just an interview type setting.
Don't be secretive about the interview; maybe even let people know what you'll be asking.
Don't cancel without notice; be honest and let them know what the firm is truly like.
Don't have human resource staff interview potential candidates.
Employers should have people to host the interviewees to make the interviewees loosen up before the interview.
Establish communication pattern on and beyond campus; follow-up in case needs / desires change; Why should it be only on campus at graduation ... what about after graduation?
Establish relationships with students early, so the firm is familiar with the candidates before it is time to hire.
Explain fully what each step means and what it leads to.
Get background about the particular university's accounting program.
Get to know them before the interview! Learn about the firm through the activities previously mentioned so that you know what the firm is like before you go in for the interview!
Give students more of an idea of what to expect in the interview. Also, have events prior to the actual interview so as to have some interaction and 'getting to know each other' before the actual interview.
Give students the chance to meet with people from different levels of the firm. For example, a first year staff all the way to partner. It will give us the chance to evaluate the firm from a young perspective but also from a potential career perspective.
Have a questionnaire sent to the potential employee for completion prior to scheduling an appointment for interview.
Have both phone and in person interviews.
Have firm employees around to talk to while you are waiting for you interview.
I think that pre-interview nights are the best thing to release some of the jitters that come with interviews. My best interviews have been with firms that have such.
I think that the person conducting the interview should have strong communication skills, which would help the person being interviewed feel more comfortable and relaxed.
I think the Big 5 wastes a lot of money on doo-dads and knick-knacks that they hand out at career fairs that are quickly thrown away afterwards.
I would have more social interactions between the professionals and the candidates because I believe that you can obtain a lot of information in terms of interactions skills with the firms and the fit.
If you don't waste my time, I won't waste yours. Let's face it, the interviewing process is a long one. With screening, first and second interviews, and even office visits the process last up to three months. I'd much rather spend a full day interviewing, taking tests, and meeting everyone in the office that taking a couple of hours on several different days to decide if we're right for each other.
Inform the potential employee of your expectations of them. Not everyone is well versed in office politics and should not be expected to know them second nature.
Interview only those that you are seriously considering. Students get very frustrated when you interview 100 students and only call back 20 or so. It's a waste of my time.
Interviews should be conducted over meals or social events...calm, yet still informative. Also, the firm would see how the interviewee would fit in the firm culture, and vice versa. This will assess comfort levels of both parties.
Get involved with more campus activities.
Know how many staff you expect to hire.
Less emphasis on fancy dinners, let the interviewee know what to expect. More honesty in interviews.
Let interviewees have a list of questions to go over.
Let us know what you are looking for at what you offer before you plan on interviewing. An upfront approach will weed out those uninterested or unqualified.
Make an effort to speak with your interviewees before the actual interview.
Make certain that those performing interviews are competent in that position. In one of my interviews (with a Big Five firm) the interviewer was uncomfortable and was not prepared for the task at hand.
Make sure the interviewer has good people skills so that the interviewee is totally comfortable during the interview.
Make sure to attend the career fairs of the Universities in your area, so that interviewees can have a face to put with the name of the firm, the interviewees may not be as nervous coming in to the interview.
Make the process more personal. It seems like the students are treated like cattle: one student comes out the next one goes in. Separate the time intervals between interviews. Make the student feel like the interviewer is just interviewing them and not one hundred students on that particular day.
Most university career offices/departments use the Internet as a recruiting tool. At my university, they use 'e-recruiting' to set up students for interview times. This was very beneficial for getting the students and the interviewers together.
Offer more recruiting events and invite more people from all different types of schools (small and large).
Participate in Beta Alpha Psi or other accounting club activities.
Participate in more 'interview workshops' on campus, and give students a feeling of what to expect. There's no need to tell a student the types of questions that will be asked during the interview, but by letting them know ahead of time the subjects that could possibly be covered may help them to research and formulate well thought-out comments.
Pre select interview candidates.
Pre interview dinners, and an interview that doesn't ask standard questions.
Prepare standardized questions to ask every interviewee, then go from there.
Prior to the interview either a small package/brochure with materials about the firm and more specifically the actual position being interviewed for, should be mailed to the interviewee, or the student should be directed to a website with specific content configured for interested students. Provide various job position descriptions prior to the interview.
Read the resume prior to interview. Send info about company to interviewee. Send recruiters who are friendly and easy to talk with.
Sometimes using the Interview centers provided for on campus are not the most ideal environment for the interview process.
Spread out the interview dates. Try not to have a student interview with 4-5 people in 2-3 hours.
The best advice I know of is, to get to know potential new hires before the interview process because a good resume does not mean a good candidate.
The interview process is ridiculous and unnecessary. Look at the resumes, talk to the candidates at recruiting events, and make decisions based on that. Interviews only produce canned answers and practiced responses. Sitting around waiting for someone to call you after an interview is torture and I hated it.
The process needs to be less complicated. First there is an interview on campus, then an interview in the office, then another interview at the office. This seems excessive and hard to work around a college student's schedule.
Upfront, say that the interview will not really be a true interview - instead that we will be chatting. It opens the lines of communication but still allows potential employers to ask questions that allow them to see our personalities.
Visit the campus and promote their firm ahead of time, meet with the students before the interview so it is a familiar face the next day and relaxes the interviewee.
The entire survey can be purchased directly from AccountingWEB for only $99. Order The Complete Survey Today.