Here’s an interview with an AccSoc Alumni with great advice on interviews, insights into university life and much more!

Hi, tell us about yourself 🙂

My name’s Jonathan – former AccSoc Education Director / VPA! I did Commerce at UNSW with an Assurance cadetship at EY, before graduating in 2018 and taking up my current role as a Business Analyst at Partners in Performance. While at uni I was also a part of a variety of other societies and had the opportunity to travel internationally to Hong Kong, Serbia and exchange in Boston through various UNSW programs – definitely something I recommend EVERYONE to do! Nowadays, I generally spend my time outside of work catching up with friends, going to the gym and reading books – currently reading Shoe Dog (memoirs of Phil Knight, who started Nike – really good view of what it’s like starting a company as a founder!) 

What was your experience like going through the 5 stage process? (do you have any tips?)

Application 

  • Always try and visit the companies you’re applying for and have a chat to a few of them – it helps put a human face to your application, and they definitely do notice you if you leave a good (or bad) impression 
  • Try to personalise your applications, based on the messaging they provide – while every company to a certain extent is the same, look for the different things they emphasise in their materials and try to tailor it to that. Alternatively, you can also say that interacting with X people at Y event made a really great impression on you as a great place to work 
  • Always check your resume / cover letter with UNSW Careers beforehand – they do a pretty excellent job at highlighting mistakes and things you may have missed
  • Basic cover letter structure should go something like this: 
    • Short intro about yourself 
    • Why you want to work at that company 
    • What interests you about the role
    • What about you makes you perfect for the role 
      • Explain why the things you’ve done highlight key skills that would make you stand out in the role 
    • Cover letter is NOT a regurgitation of the great things you’ve done at uni (i.e. a poorly laid out resume basically) 

Online testing 

  • Always do the practice runs 
  • If you are worried about an old test score that you did (e.g. Revelian), just use a different email address for your new application as they stick around for a year

Video interview 

  • Everyone thinks it’s awkward and annoying, you’re not alone 
  • Do a few practice runs answering a variety of questions while you’re on the webcam, and replay it to yourself over a few days 
    • Don’t just prep before the actual interview – it just makes you self-conscious at the moment and doesn’t let you actually take in the learnings you made with the practice runs 
  • Practice with a friend you can trust with – always helps to get a second opinion
  • Don’t stress too hard about it – just be assertive, talk a little slower than normal and make sure to have good eye contact with the webcam (so you don’t actually look at yourself as well) 

Personal interview 

Interviews and job applications in general are largely intimidating as they’re like black boxes – you don’t really know what kind of criteria you’ll be evaluated on, what the other people are going to be like, what your interviewer’s going to be like, etc. As well as that, I remember people really saw these interviews as a form of validation for themselves; which only further adds to the anxiety they felt in the possibility of getting rejected. These are all “external” factors, in the sense that they come from outside your scope of control, and is what I usually find myself and other most worried about when going through the rounds. 

So in that sense, try and control everything that you do have control over, such as: 

  • Getting a good night’s rest the night beforehand 
  • Relaxing, doing some mindfulness exercises (e.g. meditating) before the actual interview 
  • Doing things that will boost your self-confidence
  • Having an understanding of the interview structure – e.g. for consulting, practicing more than enough cases with other people 
  • Knowing your resume, your stories and having faith that you are (and you are) good enough to be employed – especially when you’ve reached the personal interview stage!
  • Try as much as you can to get along with the person interviewing you – get a read of what they’re like, and you’ll feel much more comfortable 
    • Ask them what they do, their background, what brought them to the firm, etc. 

What are some do’s and don’ts in an interview?

Do

  • Read through what I read up beforehand

Don’t 

  • Be unprepared…

What is the best way to answer a “tell me about yourself” question in an interview?

I’ve found that you can respond to this question by telling the story of how the things you’ve done in your life have inevitably led you towards this particular job interview, similar to the structure of your cover letter. Example structure could be something like… 

  1. Short intro about yourself (e.g. degree + excited for the opportunity to be X at Y)
  2. My interest in X role goes back to (time in the past that you can remember / that you can feasibly slot into your story, e.g. “I didn’t really know what  Iwas doing when I joined up to do business but I took an interest in accounting through being a part of the subcom at Accounting Society, which led me to do xyz) 
  3. My interest in the firm is piqued by *define whatever values you like about them / whatever else you know about it* 
  4. I feel like with what I’ve been able to do in and out of uni I’d do a great job in the role 

A few notes 

  • Keep it to around a minute – don’t ramble along 
  • Note the things that make you sound the most impressive – awards, positions, “high distinction average” as proof that you were able to excel 

What’s the most valuable thing you learnt while studying at UNSW?

  • The most important thing I learnt was how much opportunity there was out there to do things, and that I was good at some things and not at others. This meant finding that there were things that I could do better than others that naturally led me down a path: 
    • Try to reduce the influence that other people at uni have on what you’re doing – it’s good to try new things of course, but if it’s not for you I wouldn’t recommend continuing to push towards something when you know it’s not for you 
    • Just because you hadn’t heard about something, doesn’t mean it’s a bad move – make the move that’s right for you, not the move that someone else is telling you to do, or more regularly, the move that other people are mocking you to take 
    • Always have the self belief that you’ll make something of yourself, and always make sure to support the people around you on their path
      • Life’s not a competition – be happy in developing the lane you’re in, and be happy for others for the path they’ve chosen and support them when you can!