1) The details matter! You may be surprised what interviewers pay attention to, and remember your audience; they are accountants! They not only have the education already behind them, they are putting into practice and working knee-deep in the details on a daily basis. It’s what they get paid to do! So, an un-ironed blouse, or unkempt hair, or nails not clean…these details are noticed without ever opening your mouth. So the lesson is, make sure you think of the details.
2) What you wear makes a difference. However much time you put into your resume, put into your appearance and preparation for the interview. Get your wardrobe reviewed, if you are unsure on what to wear, pass it by a Career Consultant, a peer (preferably one you trust) or parents/siblings. Ladies: nothing too tight or too short. Your skirt should go to right about the knee and make sure you have a good fit – meaning nothing too low (shirt), too short (skirt), or too high (shoes). For a button-down, wear a kami under. Skirt should be knee length, even with the slit in the back. Shoes should be two inch max preferably not a skinny heal. Ask yourself, if I saw someone in this outfit, what would it say about the person? In this setting, our clothes should not be the distraction. We want to be taken seriously and sometimes the ‘cute’ look doesn’t always lend itself to serious. Guys: clean, washed, and shaved.
3) Know thyself. The whole idea behind an interview is to get to know you. Your strengths and accomplishments and the times you faced challenges. Who better to tell them about you, than you? This may seem obvious, but it takes some reflection. It’s not about ‘saying the right thing’, it’s about communicating who you are based on an honest reflection. I get this question a lot, “how do I stand out among my peers?” You stand out by being you. Realize that not everyone approaches work the same, and you offer a unique point of view. Take stock in that, think about what is important to you and express that in the interview. Examples help, because it allows others to picture your qualities in action and in results.
4) Use a locker & get a changing room. Make your life easier and use a locker. You can get one by coming to the front desk of the MPA Office and requesting one. Grab a key, change, and lock your ‘street’ clothes up before the interview. You can also get a changing room (they are located down the hall passed the MPA Office). You can get ready in a private space and practice your power pose! Studies have shown that practicing poses can boost your performance: http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html.
5) Try your best and let go. Prepare the best you can, and then let the rest go. Remember that interviews are subjective, so it’s hard to prepare and know everything the interviewer may be looking for prior to the interview. Once you’ve done your work in practicing by doing a mock interview, knowing your strengths and challenges, researching the position and looking your best, you’ve done your part. There is nothing else to do, but let go of the outcome. Which, in the MPA program your chances of success are good! So, relax. If it doesn’t go well, make an appointment with a Career Consultant to debrief and finds areas to strengthen.
Dawn Shaw, Career Consultant
Submitted by Jenny Tseng