Interview Guidance for Accounts Payable Professionals
by Jamie Radford
In this career article we provide clear guidance on all aspects of an interview, covering preparation for, travelling to, what to do during and what to do after the interview…
Finding jobs to apply for
Finding any “old” job to apply for is not too difficult but finding the perfect job, well, that can be a lot more challenging! There are many ways to find AP related jobs; these include recruitment agencies, newspapers and magazines, social media and the best way of all through the APA jobs listing. This is one of the benefits for all paid members and can be found within the Career HQ section of the website.
Preparation for an interview
Here are some tips on how to prepare for an interview:
1. Dress smart
All AP jobs will require smart office for the interview. Make sure you attend the interview looking professional and well turned out. If possible ask what the dress code for the interview is, just to make sure you dress just right for the occasion!
2. Clean up your social media
Increasingly Employers are more and more looking at social media profiles to find out behind the scenes truth about potential employees. New companies are likely to understand humour and won’t mind you having fun, but if there is anything on social media you don’t want an interviewer to see remove it.
Clean up your social media during the interview process
3. Do your research
The interview starts before you actually set foot through the door of the Company; this is in completing the research required for the interview. Research the Company, visit their website, visit their social media channels. Read as much information as you can, e.g. the year they were founded, key news of the past two years, prominent employees, products and services provided, etc.
4. Read through the job description
It’s an obvious thing to do, but make sure that you read through the job description carefully. If any questions arise ask the recruitment agency (if applicable) or write the question down to ask during the interview.
5. Plan the route
It’s important to plan the route, to remove as much stress as possible from the interview day. If the interview is local complete a “dry run” if possible and take the actual route. If a “dry run” isn’t possible be realistic in assessing how long the journey will take, allow extra time in rush hours in particular.
Travelling to the interview
Here is some advice to consider when travelling to the interview:
Plan to arrive early
Always plan to arrive early at an interview. As a general guide:
- For a journey time of 15 minutes allow 30 minutes travelling time
- For a journey time of 30 minutes allow 1 hour travelling time
- For a journey time of 1 hour allow about 1 ¾ hours travelling time
Arriving early will put your mind at rest. If you’re in a car, relax and practice in your mind what might happen in the interview. If travelling by public transport try and find somewhere local to sit down and relax (e.g. a café or similar location). If the interview is early in the day and in a different city it’s ideal to stay over the night before in a local hotel.
Items to take to the interview
When travelling to the interview ensure you take the following items along with you:
- Professional bag – Have a professional looking bag pursuant to the AP profession
- Directions – Have the full address written down along with directions on how to get to the interview. If you have a satnav program the postcode in plenty of time for the interview
- Interviewer contact details – Have the interviewers phone number (mobile and landline if possible), just in case you get lost or need to call due to getting delayed, etc.
- Two to three copies of your CV – Take a copy of your CV for yourself and also one to two spares for the interviewer (in case they didn’t print your CV off)
- Money – Always take money with you to the interview. This could be for unexpected car parking, to buy a coffee, etc.
- Mints or chewing gum – Have mints or gum to freshen up your breath 10-15 minutes before the interview
- Interview Stationery – Take a professional notepad and at least 2-3 pens with you to the interview
- Business card – Take a copy of your business card with you just in case the interviewer asks for one
- Identification – Take some form of ID with you, a passport, driving licence, etc. This may be required to comply with security access to the building
- List of references – Have a list of references available to hand to the interviewer if requested
Prepare and ensure you take the right items to your interview.
During the interview
Here are some tips to practice during the interview itself:
1. Stay calm
Above all else stay calm in the interview. It’s perhaps easier “said than done” but nerves in an interview won’t increase your chances. If required talk to friends about managing nerves or read articles on the internet or books on the topic.
2. Use body language to your advantage
Interviews are a classic situation in life to practice body language. The following are some tips for body language to use during interviews:
- a) Smile (be friendly),
- b) Lean very slightly towards the interviewer to show keenness
- c) Give a firm handshake (suggesting confidence)
- d) Avoid confrontational and defensive positions (e.g. “crossing of arms”)
- e) Maintain eye contact (shows interest and confidence)
Use body language to your advantage during interviews.
3. Practice your answers
Ideally practice your answers either “in your mind”, in front of a mirror or with a partner/friend. Practice makes perfect and this is certainly true when answering interview questions!
4. Provide Open answers
Keep the conversation flowing and friendly by providing open answers, e.g. avoid as much as possible answering a question with simply “no” or “yes”. Sometimes “no” or “yes” will be the only answer, but ideally use flowing answers which provoke further discussion. Also don’t rush you answers, take a little time to think and give a considered response.
5. Be prepared to listen
Humans have “two ears and one mouth” for a reason, so in an interview make sure you use your ears and listen to the interviewer. Think behind the question, what its purpose was and answer truthfully (but not naively). Being professional is answering questions in a way the interviewer would like without outright lying. Listen and show you want to learn and are interested in what they have to say, seek clarification where necessary (it’s not a weakness to do so).
6. Asking questions
It’s perfectly fine to ask questions in an interview, just make sure that you’re not interfering with the flow of the interview at the time you ask. Most interviewers will give an opportunity at the end of the interview by saying something like “Do you have any other questions” – Always have at least one question at this stage to show enthusiasm and also to ensure the interview doesn’t come to an abrupt end.
7. Expressing interest
If asked the question “are you still interested in the role?” at the end the interview, keep things positive. There’s no need to answer there and then, you can think later about whether you want to accept the job or not.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this interview guide. Please feel free to leave any comments relating to this guide, from us at the APA we wish you the very best of luck with your interview.