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Career Counselor
Responding to Common Interview Questions Effectively

June 2007 You've just landed an interview for your first accounting job, and, while elated, you're likewise somewhat nervous. You know it's your one shot to shine if you perform well, but you also know that providing answers that are not well thought through can quickly remove you from the list of contenders. While no one can say for certain what a prospective employer may ask, following are queries that come up frequently, and tips on how to respond.

Tell me about yourself.
Employers ask this question as a way of beginning the interview comfortably. Far from seeking a personal history of your life, the interviewer's objective is to learn more about your work experience, strengths and career aspirations. Be honest and concise, and try to relate your answer to the job at hand.

Why do you want this job, and why should we hire you?
This question is geared toward hearing about your interest in the company and the role, and how well prepared you are for the interview. In answering, be sure to stress your skills and experience, as well as your interest in the position, and match them to the job requirements.

What qualities do you look for in an effective manager?
Be sincere and thoughtful in describing your ideal management style, while tying what you prefer to what will make you successful. Employers are interested to learn what characteristics you like and dislike in a boss, and how you feel the working relationship can help you succeed.

What are your salary expectations?
Before the interview, research various compensation sources, including government reports, trade association statistics and industry resources such as the annual Salary Guide from Robert Half. First ask what the interviewer thinks the salary range for the position should be. If he or she won't share it, cite your research in stating a reasonable pay level for the work involved.

Because so much is riding on the interview, it's natural to feel some anxiety in approaching these meetings. However, arming yourself with well-thought-out responses to common questions and rehearsing your answers will remove some of the stress you feel on that big day. It also can help you stand out from other applicants in your pursuit for a job offer.

ACCOUNTEMPS is a specialized temporary staffing service for accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps provides support throughout an accounting department. Headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif., Accountemps and has more than 270 offices in North America, Europe and Australia. Accountemps' Career Counselor column, a SmartPros staple for over four years, is refreshed twice a month.

2007 SmartPros Ltd. All rights reserved.

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