By Jim Wong, CPA | January 13, 2016

January is a month of fresh starts, new goals and reinvigorated ambitions. It’s also a good time to reevaluate your career path, or for active job seekers, to put a renewed focus on your job search.

One way to optimize your job search is to freshen up on your interview skills – as most of us know it’s one of the most important means to getting you that new job-offer.

So, I recommend dedicating some time to improve upon your interviewing skills now. It’s not only a natural thing to do at the beginning of the year, it’s also a smart thing to do. In fact, being proactive in your professional pursuit will likely carry over to personal goals. Overall, the process can help keep you on track with all of your resolutions!

Regardless of the time of year, when it comes to preparing yourself for a job interview, you have to be able to articulate your technical skills, your experience and your personality – very succinctly. For accounting, finance and IT professionals, this can sometimes be a daunting task. Often times, such professionals are analytical in nature and are not as comfortable talking about themselves subjectively.

Additionally, accounting, finance and IT professionals may get so hung up on the questions and responses being asked by the interviewer that they miss the mark on some interviewing fundamentals.

Therefore, I’ve been thinking about the pointers we give to our candidates when we prepare them for job interviews, and I thought it would be beneficial to share that information with all of you. It really comes down to acting as naturally as possible, displaying common sense and conveying your strengths and weaknesses in an intelligent manner.

Here are 6 Tips for Handling Yourself Properly During an Accounting, Finance or IT Job Interview.

1. Remember to focus. 
You don’t want your mind to trail off during the interview—resist the urge to mentally prepare every answer while the person is talking. More often than not, it can cause you to lose track of what the interviewer is saying in the present moment. You may even miss something important that was said. Be sure to pay attention to each word the interviewer says so that you can respond appropriately when the time comes.

2. Pay attention to names. 
Jot down, force yourself to remember or glance down at the business cards of the names of the people you meet during the interview – everyone from the receptionist to the CEO. When leaving, repeat their names when saying your good-byes. This minor detail can leave a lasting impression on every member of the team.

3. Put a smile on your face.
It sounds obvious, but a smile can go a long way. A kind, genuine smile can make you appear approachable and friendly. Even if you’re feeling nervous, a smile can ease your worries and mask any anxieties.

4. Shake hands firmly.
You should shake hands with a firm grasp so that you can exhibit confidence and control. Of course, do not shake a hiring manager’s hand too hard. A good rule of thumb is to match the handshake of the other person – or, to grip their hand and pump up and down one or two times at most.

5. Make eye contact. 
In a natural way, you should look the interviewer in the eye when you greet them and when you are responding to any questions. You don’t want to stare, but you also don’t want to look down or away the whole time. It’s natural to hold eye contact for about 60 percent of the conversation.

6. Maintain good posture. 
This is another tip that sounds obvious, but is sometimes forgotten. You don’t want to get too comfortable sitting in an interview room, so remember to sit up straight. Maintaining good posture shows confidence and poise, and allows you to breathe, relax and stay focused.

What are some other tips for handling yourself during an accounting, finance or job interview? Comment below and let us know!

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