Interview tips

Competencies

  • Be prepared! You need examples of how you have fulfilled each competency. Sometimes it can be difficult to match an experience with a relevant competency. However, instead of struggling with this, we think that the best way is to list out all of your experiences (whether they relate to work, study or social situations) and see which one fits with what competencies.
  • If you focus on the question rather than worrying about the competency too much you will be able to give a much clearer response and give the interviewer the information they are looking for.
  • When discussing examples of demonstrating competencies, we find it useful to use the STAR technique. This is a method that makes sure you mention all of the key aspects of the scenario to really impress the interviewer.
    • Situation – Outline the challenging situation you faced, but keep it brief.
    • Task – What was your role in the situation?
    • Action – What positive appropriate action did you take?
    • Result – Reflect on the outcome and your performance.

Role

  • Research the role you are applying for and what your day to day responsibilities will be. It is important to have an understanding of what the department do and the type of work they are involved in. This may involve calling a local office and asking to speak to someone, visiting a careers fair, doing research on the internet or using the blog page to try to gain an insight.
  • This research should go hand-in-hand with your commercial awareness, and as well as having good general awareness, it never hurts to identify a few current topics specific to the department you are applying. If you can find any relevant hot topics and bring them up in the interview, it is sure to impress!
  • As well as researching the department, it is important to show that you are not a ‘one trick pony’. What we mean by this is that you need to show that you have an interest in the wider business world and not necessarily just audit/tax etc.

Professional qualifications

  • Find out about the professional qualification you will be sitting if you join. It’s important to show that you have researched the structure of the qualification and can realise what a challenge professional qualifications are.
  • As these qualifications require such commitment, we think it’s vital that you can show your motivation to achieve your goals and pass the relevant qualification. From experience, the feeling of obtaining professional recognition for your hard work is brilliant and acts as excellent motivation to qualify and further your career.
  • Blogs on each service line offered should provide you with information as to the qualifications studied under each entry route but here is a brief guide (note: different offices and teams may have differing preferences about the qualification that you take):
    • AAT – Audit school leavers will study AAT before progressing onto either ACA, ACCA or CIPFA.
    • ACA – Graduates in Commercial Audit, Corporate Tax, R&R, BRS and (occasionally) Public Sector Audit.
    • ACCA – (occasionally) Audit graduates.
    • ICAS – Graduates in Scotland
    • CIPFA – Public Sector Audit graduates.
    • ICAS/CIPFA – New integrated qualification for Public Sector Audit graduates UK wide.
    • ATT/CTA – Tax school leavers and graduates in specialist tax areas (not Corporate) will study ATT before progressing onto CTA.  Corporate tax graduates may do their CTA qualification on completion of ACA.
    • FIA – Actuarial

Other

    • Make sure you find somewhere quiet for a telephone interview. If you live in a shared house ask your flatmates not to disturb you for a while
      Be on time. Better to be early than late. You can always go for a coffee or a walk around the area.
    • Dress smartly – I would suggest wearing a suit as it’s better to be too smart than not smart enough. First impressions count.
    • Don’t discount work experience just because it wasn’t in financial services, all experiences are valuable and skills you demonstrated can be transferred.
    • Commercial awareness – make sure you know what’s going on in the news, particularly in areas such as finance, the budget etc. You don’t need to understand these in detail but it helps to have an opinion on the subject. Also, try and think about the news affects Grant Thornton, our clients and the accountancy industry. These are good places to start:

Don’t just take it from us…here is some advice from our most recent trainees:

“Read around Grant Thornton’s recent activity and achievements to show you know the firm well and are up-to-date on current issues affecting the firm”.  Charlie – Joined Commercial Audit (Birmingham) in January 2014

“Prepare examples for each of the (Grant Thornton) CLEARR values and relate how the qualities you have gained from these experiences would assist you at Grant Thornton”.  Charlotte  – Joining Commercial Audit (Ipswich) in September 2014

“(at Interviews you cannot) underestimate the importance of being yourself and treating it like a normal conversation. You can’t do business without personality!”  Dan – Joined Public Sector Audit (Birmingham) in January 2014

“Really get to grips with the work you would be doing on a daily basis and know what differentiates Grant Thornton from the other professional services firms out there.”  Adrienne – Interning in Commercial Audit (Ipswich) in Summer 2014