On October 2, The National Association for Black Accountants (NABA) hosted an interactive interview workshop, led by club president Bensky Belizaire and vice president Edem Ekpe, where guests participated in student led mock interviews, teaching participants what to do and say.
The main purpose of the event was to give advice to students who wanted to perform better during an interview. The speakers stressed the importance of learning how to navigate an interview, as they are not limited to one field. Therefore, it is beneficial to have good interview skills.
Belizaire, an intern at Family Management Corporation, said the top priority of every interview is to show up on time. “Being fifteen minutes early is the standard. You don’t want your first impression to be that you’re late,” he stated.
Before walking into the interview, NABA officials advised students to do research into the company they will be speaking to. That way, one can get a sense of what the business is about and also learn about the culture of the company from past and current employees.
Another element to the pre-interview process is to dress appropriately. Belizaire suggested to dress business formal while narrowing the color palate of suits to black, blue, or gray. When thinking about accessories, he said it is best to stay away from flashy jewelry in order to keep the attention on you and not what you’re wearing.
During the interview, vice president Ekpe said that body language is one of the most important aspects of the interview that companies analyze.
“Your body language tells a good story because if you’re in a rolling chair and you’re rolling around then you won’t be taken too seriously. Make sure you don’t get distracted. Even during phone interviews — still be attentive even though they can’t see you” Ekpe stated.
When answering questions in the interview, Belizaire said one of the main ways to stand out is to have confidence.
“I don’t mean you should be overconfident to the point that you’re cocky, but you should believe in yourself. One way to display your confidence is to be able to tell the interviewer about yourself without having to look at your resume. If they haven’t gone over your resume yet and they want to know about you, you should be able to speak highly of yourself.” Belizaire stated.
When dealing with behavioral situations during the interview, the duo brought up the “Situation, Task, Action, and Result (STAR)” method. In these situations, the interviewer wants you to present a challenge you recently faced and how you have overcome the situation.
Denise Miller, NABA’s advisor and adjunct professor in the Business and Liberal Arts (BALA) department, said that the best way to go about this, is simply to state what the problem was and then let the interviewer know what steps you took to make sure you successfully overcame the problem.
“Whatever the situation is that made you uncomfortable—whether it revolved around race, gender, etc. — it is best to focus on how you positively overcame the problem. You want the person interviewing you to know how you turned a negative situation into a positive one,” Professor Miller advised.
After receiving questions from the 25 people in attendance, Belizaire and Ekpe conducted a mock interview to demonstrate what to do during an interview. A few suggestions the speakers made were to make sure you’re poised and under control, and to hold eye contact with your interviewer.
A major takeaways from the event is to remain positive throughout your interview. Whether it is talking about your weakness or about a negative experience, interviewers always want to know how you plan to positively affect an unfavorable situation.
Getting involved in outside activities also help whenever you’re looking to stand out from other applicants, as Epke added, “Most companies are looking for well rounded students. They want to see that you have a decent GPA, [are] involved in clubs on campus, and outside work is good too. If you have a 4.0 GPA, but don’t get engage in extracurricular activities, you aren’t going to stand out much.”