By Jeremy M. Jacobs, Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP
The accounting firm recruiting season is an exciting and hectic time for any accounting student. Having just undergone this process myself last fall, I wanted to share some information which may help you navigate this stage in your career. To help prepare you for what lies ahead, I have authored a series of blog posts focused on the three stages of the accounting firm recruiting season—Meet the Firms, On-Campus Interviews, and Office Visits.
I will be writing from my own experience as an accounting student at UNC-Wilmington, and while I recognize each school has a different approach to the structure of the individual events, the concepts and principles remain the same. I hope you benefit from this series and wish you the best of luck with the upcoming recruiting season.
This is the final post in a three-part series focused on the accounting firm recruiting process.
Read the first post: Meet the Firms: Tips from a Former Accounting Student.
Read the second post: Recruiting Season: On-Campus Interviews.
On-site visits are the last step in the firm recruiting process. Typically, you will know within a few weeks of the on-campus interviews if you have been selected for an office visit and interview with a firm. If you are reading this and have already received an invitation to the office, let me congratulate you—that is a great accomplishment! However, you must remember that this is not a guarantee for an offer.
The office visit interview process will begin the night before your scheduled visit with a dinner, and if you are traveling, the firms will arrange for lodging. I have seen the dinner conducted as a full group cocktail hour and as a smaller sit down dinner. Either way, you will be paired with a buddy that will help you navigate the evening and the interviews the following day. Remember, you are being evaluated by every person you come in contact with during this process. The guidelines I mentioned in the previous articles regarding alcohol consumption and overall appearance still apply here.
Once the dinner wraps up, you will have the remainder of the evening to yourself. You may want to explore the town or city you are visiting. But I will remind you that the following day is a busy one and you will need plenty of rest.
The morning of the interview, you should arrive at the office 10–15 minutes prior to the scheduled time. Do not arrive any earlier than this as they will not yet be prepared for your arrival. The firm will most likely have a “meet and greet” breakfast (you might be a little nervous, but you should eat. You will need your energy), followed by a presentation about the firm.
At some point, you will receive a packet that will have your interview schedule inside. Do not panic! There will be 4–5 interviews back-to-back lasting from 25–40 minutes, and while it may seem like a lot, they will go by very quickly. During my office visits, I had interviews with professionals at the associate level all the way up to partner. I would recommend having some questions prepared that you can ask professionals at each of the different levels. Remember to have updated copies of your resume with you and do not forget to get a business card from every person you meet. When you get a free moment, make note of something that stood out to you about each interviewer that you can use later in a follow-up email.
After the interviews are complete, you will be teamed up with a different group for lunch. The same rules apply here—you are still being evaluated—and once you leave for the day, all of the people you met with will discuss their impressions of you. Once lunch is over, you will head back to the office for a quick wrap up and discussion of any next steps that you should expect.
At this point you may think that you are done—not yet! You still need to follow up with the people that you met. I would recommend following up with every person you can (the people you went to dinner and lunch with, the people who interviewed you, and your buddy), and remember to make sure the email is not the same to each person. This is where making a quick note about something that stood out to you in the interview will come into play. You have met with a lot of people, and trying to remember something unique about each person and placing it with the right name is extremely difficult. Remember to be timely about your follow-ups—I would not wait longer than 48 hours.
Once you have completed all of your interviews and follow-ups, be patient. The date of your interview may determine how long you will have to wait for a response from the firm. If you interview during the first week and the firm has planned interviews for the next six weeks, you may have to wait for them to finish. Each firm is different, and you should ask about timing and following up during the close of the office visit.
One last piece of advice I would like to offer: You may receive multiple offers, and this is both great and nerve wracking. These offers will typically not arrive at the same time and will have deadlines attached to them. If you have not completed all of your interviews, you should contact the firms that have extended offers to you and explain that you have made the commitment to interview with other firms and desire to complete the process. Most firms will be willing to extend the deadline date. I firmly believe that you need to interview with every firm that you have committed to, even if the firm you really want to work with has already extended you an offer. At the end of the day, you need to choose the firm that is the best fit for you.
I hope that you have found these blog posts helpful in navigating the recruiting season and wish you the best of luck as you begin your accounting career
Jeremy M. Jacobs is an audit associate with Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP. He received his MSA and Bachelors in accounting from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Jeremy has served as the student liaison for the Young CPA cabinet and as a board member for the Cape Fear chapter. Currently he is a member of the Student Outreach, Advancement and Recruitment Committee (SOAR).