Part 2 of 3
Below we present Part Two: During the Interview from the student's/recruits point of view. Here are their suggestions, in "Their Words".
Part Two: During the Interview
"What advice would you give potential employers to help the interview process be more effective for both sides?"
A more relaxed setting, such as more comfortable chairs. Not having a desk separate the recruit and the employer allows them to become more personally.
All people interview differently, I can't really answer this question. I like when the interviewer tells you a lot about the company.
Allow students the opportunity to ask questions and, in a sense, interview the employer. Interviews are meant to benefit both parties, not just the employer seeking to hire a student.
Allow time for informal moments to get on the students level and try to get to know them before casting down opinions based on other factors.
Always keep the student informed of where they stand with the firm, especially after an interview.
Ask a wide variety of questions, not just the same question worded three different ways.
Ask about future plans. Ask about the student - do not focus the interview entirely on the firm or yourself.
Ask exactly what you want to know and make expectations clear. Ask individualized questions instead of reading back our resumes to us.
Ask more simple questions instead of a few long and involved ones. Ask open-ended questions.
Ask practical questions. Be friendly and personable. Create a more relaxed atmosphere. This allows for a more comfortable and ultimately effective interview.
Ask questions that all students can answer (not so specific that you have to dig for an experience to fit it).
Ask questions that make the interviewee think--helping him use the skills he's learned in his education.
Ask questions that really mean something, not ones that are designed to throw us off and make us nervous.
Ask some technical question.
Ask specific questions about student's activities. I know too many students who do very little extra-curricular activities. Classroom preparation is not enough. Make sure students have other responsibilities.
Ask the candidate to interview the interviewer.
Be as friendly as possible to make the potential employee comfortable. Be calming and casual.
Be clear about what the next step will be and how much time an interviewee will have to make his decision.
Be completely honest about the hours a new accountant is expected to put in per week.
Be flexible in interview questions and not read off questions from a list.
Be frank and realistic on what the position is and what is the confidence interval that the interviewer has at getting the job.
Be honest and open, even if the prospective employee won't like the answer.
Be honest in addressing the culture/expectations of the firm. Explain what characteristics they are looking for so students can evaluate whether the firm is a good match.
Be honest to each other, straightforward questions and answers.
Be honest. Don't say 10% travel when it is really 90% travel.
Be less formal than a traditional interview, but not completely informal.
Be more direct in what you are looking for in an interviewee.
Be more laid back in the interviews and give options when asking questions so that if you are uncomfortable with a question you don't need to make up an answer.
Be more specific in what you are looking for in a candidate. For example, bring a list of duties, etc. along to the interview.
Be open and be yourself. Find a way to relax the atmosphere or you'll never find out WHOM you're really interviewing.
Be open and honest. Talk about expectations before an internship/full-time hire. Let the students know what they are getting themselves into and highlight both the positives AND negatives about a career with their respective firm.
Be open-minded to all walks of life.
Be personable. Talk to the recruit to learn about them. Don't act like you are doing an interrogation.
Be sure to explain how the company can benefit the potential employee. Also, make the interviewee feel comfortable by showing that you want to be at the interview instead of having better things to do. The worst is going into an interview where the interviewer would rather be eating lunch or playing golf, etc.
Be totally up front about what the job will be like. Be truthful about the profession and what to expect and provide as much information as possible without sugar coating the truth. Don't just use buzzwords to try to impress me, but tell me what you really think, both good and bad. Be realistic with me about what my life would look like if I work for your company.
Be up front and honest about what the job actually entails, instead of just trying to sell the firm.
Behavioral interviews take a lot of the personal aspect out of the interview.
Big 5 Firms - Lighten up. We're already nervous enough without the stoic attitude. You're already the biggest, so don't feel like you have to rake us over the coals during the first campus interview. Be professional, yet relaxed. Allow the interviewees to be themselves. I turned down a position with a big 5 firm because of this.
Both sides need to be sure to communicate honestly. This will prove effective insofar as employers will find a better match in employee and students will find a better match for themselves in firms.
Business casual rather than professional.
Communication skills are one of the things employers are looking for in potential employees. I think it is important that they also select recruiters with good communication skills. Often the things that cause dissatisfaction are minor (i.e. cube size or parking availability.) Sometimes students are afraid to ask more particular questions about work environment, comp time, employer's expectations, etc. If the interviewer brings these things up it 'breaks the ice' and makes it more acceptable for the student to ask questions that previously they may have considered taboo.
Conduct the interviews in a more comfortable setting and have a more informal meeting. Then if necessary have a more formal meeting to finish up.
Distinguish exactly what type of person you are looking for.
Do not make me feel like I'm trying out for a fraternity or sorority. I felt the whole on campus interview process was an image competition.
Don't ask a list of questions, make it more conversational.
Don't ask only the hard-core questions. It puts students on edge and seems to be unnecessary for many positions. We learn by watching how things are accomplished in the appropriate manner. Hardcore questions will not tell you how effective a student will be at learning this technique.
Don't ask the student what other firms they have interviewed with.
Don't be stuck up during interviewing, and wait until you actually hear the student's response. Make yourself known and the interview dates known so people hear about your firm before (and not after like in many cases) the interviewing occurs.
Don't conduct behavioral interviews--I don't learn much about you, and you frequently learn only what I thought you wanted to hear.
Don't do panel interviews; rather pass the interviewee to two or three different people - one at a time. i.e. start with a manager, then pass the person to a senior manager (or partner, if there is one interested in talking to the interviewee), and then end with an entry-level staff person. Each person can ask the interviewee different questions, and the interviewee may feel more comfortable talking to one person over another.
Don't have such hard-core behavioral interviews. It just makes the applicant more nervous. If interviews are like conversation, applicants will perform better and you will see the personality characteristics of the applicant, which really matters in accounting.
Talk about what the firm has to offer, salary, benefits, future opportunities. Treat the interview more like a conversation.
Employers must be completely honest about what a new staff person will do when they begin work. During my Big 5 recruiting, I was 'wined and dined' by partners who when I started I never saw. I was never told of the extraordinary amount of travel that I would be doing. I had absolutely no input on what kinds of clients I would be working on. Employers must be honest with potential candidates so that they know what to expect and expectations are not mismatched. Completely different expectations on both sides lead to disappointment, failure, and resentment by employer and employees.
Engage in more conversation rather then a resume review and question/answer session.
Find out if the person really wants to be in accounting or just has no other current possibilities.
For the interviewers to be more interested in what we are actually saying instead of just listening for some specific answer or word to be said. As an interviewee, I can tell you for certain that I know when an interviewer is actually listening to me or when they have either already given up on me or just waiting for that word.
Have a lot of different people interview the student, this way personalities will not get in the way of the decision making.
Have a more casual, conversational approach.
Have direction, give background info on the firm and some of the firm goals. Be honest, it'll help the decision for both sides.
Have the employer smile and maybe try to say something funny or light.
I hate being asked what is a situation that you were involved in that you found to be unethical. I feel that this question doesn't allow you to get to know the person. The person probably has just one situation memorized in their heads that they use at each interview. Interviews should more be about getting to know the person and the company all at once, because not only is the company looking to decide to accept you, you are also looking at that representative and deciding if you want the job, if it's offered to you.
I like the semi-casual interviews because I do not feel as intimidated and I'm able to be more relaxed.
I think accounting interviews are much more effective than most other types of interviews I've been on. The people are usually very friendly and eager to answer questions.
I think more question time for interviewees rather than constantly feeling like you have to sell yourself with answers to their questions.
I think some of the questions they ask during the interview have no bearing on student's skills. For an entry-level audit position with a Big 5 firm. Some of the questions dealt with marketing. I realize that eventually I would have to try to sell the firm I would be working for, but most students do not have sales experience or situations to talk about in the interview. Some firms need to have a pre-interview session the night before so we can meet our recruiters and meet people who work for the firm. It gives us a better idea in whom to eliminate when making the final decision.
I wish that employers would really interview and ask some tough questions that set the candidates apart. Most interviews don't really give the employer any more information about the student than what is already on the resume!
Inform the potential employees of the pay and benefits up front...that way no time will be wasted by either party. Also, let the potential employee know where they stand...be open and honest up front.
Informal interviews are the best kind because interviewees are more apt to act themselves.
Offer information that seems to be of relevance (salary, benefits, etc) that most people would not ask of the employer.
Rather than a structured list of questions, get to know each other with general conversation, to see if there is even a fit.
Smiling has never killed anyone. Please do not act like you are better than me just b/c you have a job.
Speak candidly about issues within the firm, showing both positives and negatives. This cultivates a more open and honest interview session.
Spend less time trying to 'sell' the firm to interviewees, and more time getting to know the interviewee, and letting them get to know you.
State exactly what is expected of new associates - there are many misconceptions of what is required.
Stay away from behavioral questions or don't only use them.
Stop asking stupid questions like 'What do you think are your three best qualities?' ... etc
Talk about opportunities for work in different areas, and also tell the interviewee what job or area they are being specifically interviewed for.
Talk more about the atmosphere of the firm, and be very honest about the firm's expectations.
Tell me what you're looking for. That way, I don't have to try and guess what appeals to you. If you know what you want, I can either help eliminate myself or demonstrate that I have what it takes. Just tell me what you want.
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