Top CPA Interview Mistakes to Avoid

Interviewing for a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) position – or any position — can be nerve-wracking. Whether you’re pursuing your first job after graduation or looking to change careers, the interview process is necessary to land a job.

Proper preparation means knowing what mistakes to avoid. Read on to learn some of the most common mistakes made during interviews for CPA roles and how to avoid them.

Mistakes to Avoid During a CPA Interview

1. Embellishing your resume

It is never wise to embellish your experience or skills for a job. If you cannot answer follow-up questions or successfully complete a skills assessment, your dishonesty will be revealed. The interviewer will see you as unqualified and untrustworthy.

If you don’t know the answer to a question or do not have the experience or training required for a particular skill, be up-front and honest about it. You may have an opportunity to showcase your other strengths later in the interview.

2. Not paying attention to the interviewer

Answering questions is important but listening to the interviewer is just as essential. Often, interviewers provide key information, and, if you’re not paying attention, you may miss it. Also, the tone of the interviewer’s voice may tell you the type of answer they are looking for, either short and to the point or more in-depth. Ignore their cues, and you could find yourself either rambling on too long or being too abrupt.

3. Showing disrespect for a previous employer

Bad-mouthing a previous employer is rude and disrespectful, and doing so demonstrates a lack of integrity and good morals. Even if your experience was poor with a past employer, be polite and focus on looking forward to your future with the interviewing company.

4. Poor grooming and bearing

First impressions only happen once. Whether you are interviewing for an entry-level position or an executive role, you need to be clean and neatly dressed. Men should wear a suit and tie, and women should wear a pantsuit or pressed dress. Hair should be well-groomed and neatly combed, and fingernails clean and trimmed.

Demonstrate your poise and confidence with good posture. Keep your shoulders down, and your chin parallel to the ground. You can also show your confidence in your handshake. A good handshake is firm and deliberate. Shake up and down two or three times, looking the interviewer in the eye.

6. Not being prepared

The more you know about the interviewing company, the better position you’ll be in to succeed. Take time before the interview to research the company. Look at its history, and specific departments, such as accounting, if available, and any recent news about the company.

If you properly research the company, you’ll have plenty of questions to ask the interviewer. Being prepared with intelligent, thoughtful questions will make a strong impression on the interviewer.

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