Interview tips


  • 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.


  • 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 interested in becoming an all-round business adviser. 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 –  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 top tips

    • 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 smart – we love to see everyone in their business wear ready for a day at the office and this makes a really good impression with the assessors
    • 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 government 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: