Chartered accountants: avoid the top 3 interview mistakes

Chartered accountants: avoid the top 3 interview mistakes

Interviews are something that most people struggle with. We all want to progress to the next level of our career and whether this is for an internal promotion or for an external career move, we can all improve our interview technique.


  • What you can bring to the role
  • Your approach and attitude to work
  • Your desire to work in their team and for their business

1. Using the term ‘we’ and not ‘I’

In a modern workplace, most of us work in team environments and within our organisations we talk about “us” and “the team” as a collective. Most of us are more comfortable giving credit to the team and the group, however when you are talking to a prospective employer about yourself, it essential to talk about your personal achievements.

A good interviewer will counter question until they know what part you played but a less experienced one may not and you could lose out to the person that says ‘I’.

This is one of the most common interview mistakes recently qualified chartered accountants make when looking to move from practice to industry. Having achieved good A-levels and a 2:1 degree, you go straight into a top accountancy practice. You mistakenly assume that the interview process for your next career move will be the same as when you graduated. However, it now becomes much more about highlighting your key work achievements rather than just exam success. The interview approach you had as a graduate will change as you progress throughout your career. For example, getting a 1st in your degree or passing your qualification is NOT your greatest achievement (it is expected). On many occasions, I have heard recently qualified accountants say that they don’t have any achievements but with deeper probing and insight this is rarely the case.

Using real world examples of how you work and what you have achieved gives employers a much clearer indication of what you can deliver for them. You may never need to pass another exam paper in your life so think about which achievement will give a more positive impact to your potential new employer.

3. Lack of preparation or research

One of the most common phrases I hear is; “I get the jobs I don’t want because I feel more relaxed, and the ones I really want I struggle with, I get nervous and end up not performing at my best.”

Think about: Prepare for all your interviews in the same rigorous way so that you train your mind to view all job interviews with the same level of importance. This approach should help you to remain calm under pressure and perform at your best to give you a better chance of getting the job you really want. This also means that if the company or role you weren’t too sure about turns out to be better than you thought, you will be prepared.