Interview Tips

3 Ways to Form the Best First Impression at Your Interview

It only takes 0.1 second to form a first impression, and that impression– whether you like it or not– can exist for about 3 months.

It’s especially important to consider this during the job search process, being that those snap judgments can have a direct impact on the outcome of the interview, and the professional relationship that results from it.

First impressions can make or break an interview, so you’ll need to know what to do to make sure your interviewers develop an exceptional perception of you. Body language and how you say things matter.

Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing for your next interview, so that you can get the job, and leave a positive impact on the ones you encounter. 

[1] Look confident

Confidence, or lack thereof, could be the first thing that someone notices in an interview. In fact, studies show that 55% of the first impression you make on others is attributed to physical appearance, so the way you look is extremely important. A strong and confident presence can help you stand out from other candidates, and help you come across as skilled, reliable, and valuable to your interviewers.

Don’t let any insecurities prevent you from exuding confidence in your interview: conditions like tooth discoloration, severe acne, or even male pattern baldness can distract your mind throughout the meeting. Before your interview, make an effort to accept and embrace the things that make you uncertain. Develop your confidence through acts of self-care, try some power poses in the mirror, or find a suit or dress that’s both professional and comfortable. Confidence in yourself, the way you look, and the way you carry yourself can go a long way in helping you shine throughout your interview.

Bonus tip: Keep steady eye contact and attentive body language so your interviewers know you’re engaged and actively listening.

[2] Prepare– don’t rehearse

While there’s no doubt that you should prepare for your interview to some degree, excessive preparation of your answers can come across as rehearsed, and in turn, disingenuous. If your interviewers think that your answers came from a Google search, and not from your own knowledge and experience, they’ll most likely be turned off by your responses and form a negative view of you.

Look into common interview questions before your interview to see what experiences or skill sets you’ll need to convey. In order to prepare for your interview without scripted answers, write down your answers in bullet forms, so you’re not reciting back pre-written responses in sentence form.

Practice answering the questions out loud to someone you know, and get their honest feedback– preferably someone with interview experience, or experience in the desired field. Peppering in your thoughts and experiences throughout the meeting in organic ways should help you come across as well-spoken and capable while leaving a positive impression.

Bonus tip: come with a list of questions for the interviewers. These questions don’t need to be in bullets, but you should come prepared with questions about the company or the role itself. It will help you appear interested, ambitious, and will help the flow of dialogue between you and the interviewers.

[3] Find a connection

While nerves can often make it difficult for you to be yourself, it’s important that you find a way to communicate naturally and effectively with your interviewers. Since a first impression is formed so quickly, you’ll need to find some common ground in which you can relate to your interviewers relatively soon after the interview starts.

When you find something that allows you to relate to your interviewers, you can develop a deeper connection, which can benefit you in the long run. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their professional experience, educational background, or even interests. You never know– you may just find something that you’re both passionate about which will help you develop an even better first impression. Plus, being able to relate to your interviewers can show that you can get along well with others and work productively in a team setting.

Bonus tip: If you’re not sure what to ask, start with simple get-to-know-you questions about what books their reading, their hobbies, or their favorite local restaurants.

It’s crucial that you feel comfortable and confident so that there’s nothing impeding you from being yourself and excelling in your interview. When you develop a connection and bring your utmost confidence to the meeting, there’s no doubt you’ll have the best chances to win over your interviewers and land the job.

Interview Tips

Body Language: The 15 Signals Hiring Managers Send and How to Read Them

You can improve your interviews and your chances of landing the job – as well as save a lot of time – when you learn what they’re saying with their bodies.

Here’s a quick reference guide to what they’re really saying and how to respond.

1) Eyes to the left while talking – Indicates the speaker is lying. Proceed with caution.

2) Crossed arms, leaning back – Defensive position. Hiring manager is likely intimidated by you. Ask a few non-threatening questions to change her mental state.

3) Crossed arms and legs – Classic defensive unaccepting position. Consider regrouping and redirecting the conversation so she’s more accepting of what you’re saying.

4) Tapping on the keyboard while talking – She’s only talking to you because they legally need to interview outside candidates. In truth, an internal candidate will get the position. Continue the interview for practice only.

5) Unwavering stare – She’s trying to intimidate you. Most are unnerved when being stared at, and she’s looking to see what your reaction is. She’s also trying to read you. Redirect her by using hand gestures that break into the line of the stare. They eyes, after all, are drawn toward motion.

6) Resting head on one palm – She’s bored. Bring out the big guns by working your best credentials into the conversation and increasing your vocal variety.

7) Elbows on desk with chin resting on folded hands – Worse than bored, she’s condescending. She’s regarding you lightly, as if she was speaking to a child. You need to earn respect and build credibility fast.

8) Arms on arm rest, feet on floor – She doesn’t want you to be able to read her so she’s presenting a blank page. But as any poker aficionado will tell you, every player has a “tell.” Look at her neck muscles and face for signs of life and to detect a pattern.

9) Leaning in, hands folded in front – She’s interested in what you’re saying. Mirror her position and continue the line of conversation.

10) Neck muscles twitch or ears wiggle – This is a classic sign of stress. She either doesn’t want to reveal information – or to lie. Decide if you want to push it or not, then proceed with caution.

11) Expression/verbiage mismatch – If, for instance, her face is blank but her voice is overly jovial, she is being incongruent. And it’s by design. This technique is often used by those who have a superiority complex as a way of toying with their prey. While this may momentarily confuse you, don’t let it show. Maintain your composure because she’s trying to read your reaction.

12) Excessive blinking – She probably gets nervous in interviews – or the interview might be monitored electronically. This is the time to bring out your interpersonal skills to put her at ease. She’ll appreciate it and regard you favorably.

13) Inappropriate facial expressions – If she looks shocked when you’re discussing mundane data, she’s likely not reacting to you, but to an internal dialogue. Bring her back into the moment with a mild joke followed by a slight chuckle. She will probably realize she missed something in the conversation and refocus her attention.

14) Head tilted to one side – This typically signals submission. She’s buying into what you’re saying. Either that, or she she’s trying to act like she’s buying into it (often a placating move). To be certain which is intended, look for other gestures.

15) Head tilted back slightly while looking at you – This could been one of two things (or both): she doesn’t believe you; or she thinks very, very little of you. In either case, it’s important to build credibility. Work a few of your most outstanding credentials into the conversation. If that doesn’t seem to work, you’ll need to decide if you really want to work for someone like that.

IN A NUTSHELL: Increase the quality of your interviews and save time by learning to read body language.

To be considered for immediate openings in Accounting, submit your resume here.

Interview Tips

How to Handle the Marathon Job Interview

The trend in job interviews today is toward longer, deeper interviews, more rounds of them, and many more people involved along the way.

To do so within the limitations of most candidates’ schedules, employers are increasingly bundling these multiple sessions into one super-interview. It’s important to be prepared for tough questions.

These marathon encounters can sometimes last an entire day, during which the candidate can be trotted through as many as six or seven different rounds with various people in the company.

It can be as much a test of endurance as the candidate’s ability to do the job. Here’s how to handle these long sessions and come out on top.

Know what you’re up against

Before you even get to the interview, find out what the agenda for the day is.

You may have in mind a relatively quick hour-long session, and then be surprised to find you have an entire afternoon to endure. And surprises are never good in interviews.

Physical endurance

Multiple-round interviews are as much a test of physical endurance as anything. Your body can be beat from hiking office to office, working your brain to the point of overheating, and just simply enduring the stress of high-stakes question sessions.

So do yourself a favor and rest well the night before, eat a great breakfast, and wear comfortable clothes.

Sparkly personality

Keep yourself fresh by keeping your emotions in good shape. Avoid as much stress as possible during the week of the interview.

Then boost yourself up with affirmations of your strengths, positive music during the drive their, or anything else to keep yourself up – you’ve got a long day ahead and keeping bright is key.

Interviewers with varying degrees of relevance

Through the various stages of a marathon interview, you’ll probably talk to everyone from your potential boss to co-workers that have little or nothing to do with the job.

The key is to treat them all well and give them the same intensity and concentration you would the top manager. For one thing, you can’t always sort out who really matters and who doesn’t. More importantly, the hiring manager is almost certain to later ask all of these people for their opinion of you.

Same story with fresh angles

Over the course of a marathon interview, you’ll probably end up telling the same stories over and over again. But you need to tell them every time with the same pride, enthusiasm, and energy. So practice.

Find different ways of saying your stories. Look for unique angles to adapt them with. Get used to repeating them. Your stories are the gold of your career. Make sure they sparkle appropriately time after time.

Freshen up

Finally, prepare ways to revitalize yourself as the sessions unfold. Keep an energy bar in your suit and chow it down as you take a restroom break. Bring eye drops to keep your eyes bright and sparkly.

Learn quick stretching and self-massage techniques you can use between rounds. Whatever you can do to keep the gleam in your attitude will certainly help your chances to win the day.

Interview Tips Job Search

Your All-In Guide to Becoming an Accounting Manager

The Accounting Manager plays an important role not only in managing the accounting team, but also in owning the month-end close process. Accounting Managers oversee and maintain financial records, prepare and publish a number of documents, including profit and loss statements, balance sheets and sales reports, and prepare schedules for year end taxes. Often, Accounting Managers report directly to the company’s CFO or Financial Controller and manage a number of Staff Accountants.

Accounting Manager Responsibilities

  • Manage the month-end close process, including the review of journal entries, account reconciliations, and supporting schedules
  • Perform financial statement analyses and work closely with business partners to explain fluctuations to support business decisions
  • Lead accounting projects, including the design and implementation of key finance systems, internal controls, global close efficiency, audit readiness, and management reporting
  • Manage outsourced vendors and find opportunities to outsource activities or processes
  • Support business leaders in completing special projects, ad-hoc reporting, and strategic analysis as requested
  • Mentor, teach, and review the work of other members of the accounting team

Accounting Manager Qualifications

  • BS/BA in Finance, Accounting, Economics, or similar (MBA is a plus)
  • 5+ years of experience professional experience in accounting
  • Advanced Excel (V-Lookup and Pivot Tables)
  • High degree of organization, initiative, attention to detail, and flexibility to accommodate deadlines
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Team player
  • Enterprise-level software planning systems

Accounting Manager Salary

Accounting Manager Salary New York Average: $100,000

Accounting Manager Salary Range: $70,000 – $130,000

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Accounting Manager Job Description: What Does an Accounting Manager Do?

The Accounting Manager is responsible for a number of tasks related to tracking a company’s money. An Accounting Manager should be detail-oriented, familiar with tax regulations and able to effectively communicate with employees and upper-level management. Take a look at some of the tasks Accounting Managers are responsible for.

Managing Accounting Functions

Accounting Managers oversee the accounting functions of a company; this is no surprise. These functions can include ledger maintenance, revenue and asset accounting, accounts payable and accounts receivable. The Accounting Manager is also responsible for managing reporting, such as sales and inventory reports, balance sheets and profit and loss statements.

Preparing Tax Documents

In addition to accounting functions, Accounting Managers are looked to for overseeing the preparation of tax documents, especially for year-end taxes. They often prepare schedules and file for state and federal taxes.

Managing Accounting Staff

Accounting Managers are the leaders of the Accounting Department. This means they are responsible for ensuring department goals are met and projects are completed while adhering to approved budgets. Managing the department goes hand-in-hand with managing individual accounting employees, such as Staff Accountants. Accounting Managers act as mentors and managers, ensuring that their employees are completing tasks and performing well.

Analyzing Finances and Improving Systems

Accounting Managers aren’t only expected to make sure accounting functions are completed, they also need to make sure processes in the department are efficient and beneficial to the company. Having the ability to analyze finances and make improvements to processes is key. Since Account Managers often work with the CFO and other company leaders, they should be able to communicate complex ideas in a clear, efficient manner.

Managing Company Audits

Planning and completing company audits is another process Accounting Managers are expected to take on. This includes identifying internal process risks, evaluating operating controls and practices, and documenting audit results. Once the audit is complete, Accounting Managers create reports and present recommendations for improvement to top-level managers.

5 Accounting Manager Interview Questions & Answers to Prep You for the Interview

Interviews have a tendency to be nerve-wracking and uncomfortable. But being well-prepared builds confidence and makes the whole interviewing process a little less stressful. Take a look at these five Accounting Manager interview questions and how to go about answering them.

  1. Describe an accounting process you’ve developed or improved.

Why it’s asked: As an Accounting Manager, you’re expected to continue developing and improving processes rather than just working within them. Hiring Managers need to see that you’re forward-thinking and innovative.

How to answer: Practice describing a specific process you’ve developed or improved in a clear, succinct way. Highlight key takeaways without diving too far into unnecessary details or company-specific jargon. If you don’t have experience in this area, talk about what you like about the processes you’ve used or how you would change them if given the opportunity.

  1. How do you minimize the risk for errors?

Why it’s asked: Accounting mistakes can be detrimental to a company. It’s important to know what steps you take to ensure accuracy.

How to answer: Talk through the steps you take before submitting reports and other accounting documents. This likely will include checking your work or having a checks and balances system with your team. You can also describe a time when you caught an error before submitting work.

  1. Tell me about a time when you had to explain a complex accounting situation to someone without an accounting background.

Why it’s asked: Accounting Managers need to be able to explain department issues or goals to company leaders and managers from different departments. You’ll need to be able to make your point in a way that people across departments can understand.

How to answer: Within your answer, be sure to emphasize your communication skills along with your ability to be a team player. You could explain a situation in which there was an accounting issue involving a different department and how you went about contacting that department manager to resolve it. You could also talk about a time when you had to convince an executive, emphasizing any reports or graphs used to state your case.

  1. What do you consider the biggest challenge facing the accounting profession?

Why it’s asked: Hiring Managers want to know if you are able to see the big picture rather than just the small details of your job. This role requires someone who can take initiative to make changes and have the foresight to overcome obstacles.

How to answer: There is no right answer, here. The point is to make sure you are engaged in your profession. As long as you are up-to-date on current industry events, you should be able to give a well-thought-out answer.

  1. How do you monitor the performance of your team?

Why it’s asked: Accounting Managers need to be able to manage employees just as well as they can manage processes. You need to be able to demonstrate your value as a leader.

How to answer: Talk through management methods you use to ensure that department goals are met. Describe how you motivate your team and how you manage difficult conversations with individuals who give low performances.

How to be an Effective Accounting Manager

Positioning yourself in higher-level accounting roles will result in you managing more responsibilities and more people. If you’re new to a management position, understanding how to get the most out of those working under you can take time. Even veteran managers need to step back and evaluate their managing styles on occasion.

Wondering how to best manage your team? Take a look at these tips on how to be an effective manager.

Make Objectives Clear

Creating specific goals for your employees and making these goals clear will help guide the focus of your team. Objectives should be measurable and tailored to each employee, giving them direction without the need to micro-manage. Defining goals at the beginning of the year gives both you and your employees business objectives to work toward and talking points during team meetings and check-ins.

Set High Expectations

Demand excellence of your employees by setting high, yet attainable, standards. This doesn’t mean you need to be overly harsh or strict; simply treat your employees with respect and encourage them to only turn in their best work. Setting high expectations shows your team that you think highly of them and the work they are capable of producing. Refusing to accept less than an employee’s best fosters a work environment that takes pride in good work and pushes toward self-improvement.

Communicate Often

Communicating regularly with your team can (and should) be done without checking work or micromanaging tasks. Simply making it known that you’re available to talk about objectives, roadblocks or new ideas is enough to create a positive, open work environment. Being upfront about  things that might be difficult to discuss, such as compensation, layoffs, interpersonal issues, and other internal conflicts can also build trust and ease any discomfort that comes with manager-employee relationships. Giving both positive and negative constructive feedback is another way to keep communication lines open with your team.

Make Time for Your Objectives

While managing a team can take a lot of time and effort, it isn’t the only responsibility managers have. Be sure to take the necessary time to complete your own work and meet goals set for yourself. It’s easy to adopt a reactive work style as a manager and take care of issues or asks as they arise. Prevent this by blocking off time each week during which you can focus on work without being disturbed. Prioritizing and delegating work can also help you make time for your own projects.

Be Open to New Ideas

Encourage your team to come to you with new ideas, and when they do, listen. Don’t get stuck in the “we’ve always done it this way” mindset; the most effective managers are flexible and on the lookout for new opportunities.

Act as a Mentor

Some of the best managers are those who can see their employees beyond current roles. As a manager, you should be mindful of the fact that your Staff Accountant might not want to stay in that position forever. Take an interest in your employees’ career aspirations and direct them on how to get there. If possible, assign tasks and objectives that align with their career goals. Encourage them to attend trainings or attain certificates that can benefit their futures. Taking an interest in the development of team members builds trust and motivates them to do quality work.

This guide to Accounting Manager was created by the Vested team. If you are interested in an Accounting Management role, please join us to get matched with opportunities at one of our partner companies.

Interview Tips

Twenty Common Interview Questions You’ll Hear At Your Next Interview

Business Insider compiled a list of the strangest interview questions that candidates received while interviewing for jobs at some of the nation’s top companies.  

While it’s fun to ponder your answers to these questions, your focus in preparing for your interview should be on developing responses to the following 20 common interview questions. These are standard questions asked at companies of all types and to employees at all levels.

  1. What are your strengths?
  2. What are your weaknesses?
  3. Why are you interested in working for us?
  4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
  5. What can you offer us that someone else can’t?
  6. What are three things your former manager would like you to improve on?
  7. Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
  8. Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
  9. What is your dream job?
  10. What would you accomplish in the first 30/60/90 days on the job?
  11. Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.
  12. Why are you looking for a new job?
  13. Give a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.
  14. Who are our competitors?
  15. What was your biggest failure?
  16. What motivates you?
  17. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
  18. What are your career goals?
  19. What are some of your leadership experiences?
  20. What questions do you have for me?

We hope you have found this list of questions helpful. Remember the interview is not just an opportunity for an employer to learn about you, but for you to learn about the company and your co-workers.

So be prepared to answer any or all of these common interview questions, but not to the point that you sound overly rehearsed. The interview should be a conversation, that hopefully concludes with you being offered the job of your dreams.

Interview Tips

8 Psychological Techniques to Help You in a Job Interview

In a job interview, preparing for specific questions is not enough.  If you want to make a great impression and stand out from the crowd, we suggest you follow the strategies outlined below.

Adapting these frameworks will put you firmly in control of your job interview and improve your chances of landing your dream job.

Develop Your “Elevator Pitch”

The average hiring manager interviews 8 people for every open role.  The number is high enough that they generally have to go back to their notes to remember candidates.  The exception is candidates with a strong elevator pitch.  This is no more than 15-20 seconds about you, your background, or even your goals which answers the questions why they should hire you.

You should weave this into an early response — before you dive into something more factual. Offering a story or narrative that shows what a strong candidate you are helps you to rise to the top of the list of candidates.

Here’s an example:

Interviewer: Tell me about why you are looking for a new job?

You:  I’m an accountant with 5-years of experience at fast-growing SAAS companies and have a passion for building accounting processes at a ground-level before companies really start to scale.  I’m looking to move to an earlier-stage company where I can leverage that skillset and my interests, and believe this opportunity would be a great fit.

Read about the Company

No matter how prepared you are to talk about yourself, not knowing the essentials of the company you’re interviewing for conveys a lack of preparation and interest. You can’t show an interviewer how you’ll fit in the company until you know the company.

In this day and age, every company either produces content or promotes the content written about them by third parties (i.e. Techcrunch, Business Insider).  Make sure you delve deeply into the company’s website or LinkedIn feed so you can see how they position themselves to their clients.

From this, you’ll be able to know who the leaders of the company are, their revenue model, and near-term strategic objectives.  Pick something that grabs your interest and ask your interviewer about it.

The Briefcase Technique

This is an amazing technique that will absolutely set you apart from your competition. The following video provides more info of how and why this method works.

In a nutshell, you show up to an job interview with a written proposal describing what you believe a company’s pressing problem is and how you would go about solving them.  Some ideas for this include:

  1. Create a high-level 5-year model
  2. CAC / LTV analysis based on your understanding of the business
  3. Audit readiness roadmap
  4. Map of chart of accounts

Don’t worry if any of these are not perfect, it is the effort and discussion that you want to foster.

Diligence the Job You’re Applying for

Get to know the job you’re applying for intimately before arriving at your job interview.  Don’t just read the job description—study it and research every task required of you.

When you interview, framing your responses so that you reveal your significant knowledge about the job gives you a massive advantage.

Use insider information (via informational interviews ideally with someone in a similar position to your interviewer) to make sure you speak their language — if you are interviewing at a highly metrics driven org, then make sure you speak about KPIs that you believe they should be tracking.

Figure out the Company Culture and Position Yourself as a Great Fit for it

When you diligence the company, figure out what the founding/leadership team emphasize.  Do they value ideas, numbers, or design?  Once you know that, you can position yourself for the position perfectly and speak to it during the interview.

What makes you special?  It could be that you’re an idea machine, or a statistical fanatic.

Whatever they emphasize in a job interview, you can prepare to fit it into your responses.  For example, when an interviewer asks, “What are your strengths?” skip the clichés and go right into qualities about you that are unique to the job. You’ll make it clear that you’re the perfect fit.

Prepare a Story Behind Every Answer

While you should outline key points you will touch on if asked these questions, you need to be ready for the interviewer to ask a follow-up question like, “What does this strength look like in action?”

Prepare a story that really demonstrates your work or strengths in action.  Make it simple, high-level, and relatable.  And make sure you have a great punchline speaking to your impact.

Humans relate to stories which are often more memorable than just listing off facts.  We’re confident that this strategy will leave an indelible impression far after your interview.

Practice, Practice, Practice

You, and everyone else interviewing for the job, already know many of the questions you’ll be asked. The difference lies in preparation.  Preparing unique and position-specific responses will give you the competitive edge over everyone else.

You don’t need to memorize answers, but instead know certain points of reference about yourself that you can apply to different questions.

Make sure to “mock interview” yourself.  Video your responses until you’re able to speak comfortably and flexibly—as opposed to rotely regurgitating answers—about your prepared topics.  Videoing yourself will feel awkward when you do it, but it will pay off in spades.

Project a Relaxed, Calm, and Positive Demeanor

Your hiring manager or future colleagues will feel more comfortable with you as a potential colleague if you project a relaxed and calm demeanor.  Humans are attracted to confident people and a telling sign of that is someone who is relaxed and calm.

If you show fear or anxiety, it appears weak — while interviews are nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing scenarios, take a deep breath and do your best to stay calm and relaxed.

We also recommend that you smile when starting your interview; numerous studies show that smiling not only increases your happiness and confidence, but it also puts the people you’re interacting with at ease. This is mostly due to mirror neurons in the brain that naturally mimic other people’s expressions and emotions.

Pulling this off requires emotional intelligence (EQ), a skill that employers are increasingly looking for in candidates.

Be Authentic

Good interviewers have a way of getting to the crux of who you are. They may have an innate sense for reading people, or they might just be really good at asking the right questions. Regardless, it’s essential to approach your interview with honesty.

If you interview as your non-authentic self, you’ll either not get the job when the interviewer sees right through you, or you’ll end up in a job that’s a poor fit.  Don’t focus on what you think the interviewer wants to hear.  Instead focus on giving an honest and passionate breakdown of what you have to offer.

Bringing It All Together

Let’s face it, interviewing is still tough. It’s hard to show who you really are and what you’re capable of during a quick sit-down chat.  These strategies will help you to eliminate nervousness and anything unexpected that might derail an otherwise great job interview.