Michelle Alarcon

Make That Interview a Winning Proposition

In accounting, your technical skills cannot be underestimated. You must have the requisite knowledge. But will this alone land you the job of your dreams? Know your KSAOs.

September 20, 2007
by Michelle Alarcon, Esq., MBA

It’s all about your attitude and personality — a winning attitude that exudes confidence and a personality that wins rapport with the interviewer. There are hundreds of articles on interviewing tips. These are good basic guidelines that you must know. Some talk about creative techniques such as how to answer situational questions, while others discuss common tips like knowing the company, dressing smart, arriving on time, questions to ask or not to ask, body language, eye contacts, practice mock interviews, discussing your strengths and weaknesses, discussing compensation, etc. These are all great forms of tactical information to sell your knowledge. But you also have to sell your real self.

Read basic interviewing tips. You can find them in every Google search on interviewing. So you can safely assume that those interviewing for the same position as yours probably come armed with the same knowledge. Therefore, this will not set you apart from them. Let’s now focus on what can make you win that interview.

You may think that your experience speaks for itself or that you can impress the interviewer with your technical accounting background. But how do you know that other applicants don’t possess the same skills and abilities? What is the probability that you are more technically adept than others, or that you dressed better or are smarter than others? You don’t. With the job market rich with pools of qualified accounting and finance professionals, the interviewers may step beyond the technical skills in making their final selection. Investing time in knowing the interviewing process and arming yourself with the trait that winners possess — confidence and a winning personality — is an absolute must. Confidence is the building block to success. Your skills, partnered with this mental energy, are the most natural way to win an interview and be successful on the job.


The common basic interviewing guidelines concentrate on the external aspects of your persona. What will set you apart is the internal factor in you. Employers assess potential employees’ KSAOs — Knowledge, Skills, Abilities and Other characteristics. The technical KSA can be learned, so your competitors may possess the same or higher level. Therefore, it is your other characteristics that could give you a competitive edge. On the other hand, it could also make you lose if you come across unsure of yourself and your skills. There are tips that talk about practice interviews to help remove nervousness during interviews. But no amount of practice will do that unless you sincerely believe, and are confident about, the things you will discuss about yourself. Likewise, a soft, shy, timid voice indicates lack of confidence. So speak clearly and confidently.

Art of Building Confidence

Unlike other interviewing tips that focus on the external learned areas, the technique of arming your self with confidence is about focusing on the internal aspect that cannot be duplicated. It is your unique personality that should guide you to success.

Go to the interview beaming with confidence. But don’t sink into low gear when if you don’t get the job. Be prepared to accept rejections and do not allow this to rob you of your self-esteem. Confidence comes with humility and acceptance that others may be better, wiser, prettier, richer, and more talented.

Interviewers are skilled in seeing through people — fake smiles won’t hide a phony personality. If you’re in a bad mood or are having a bad day, it may be best to postpone the interview. Establish rapport with the interviewer with sincerity. Let your personality flow and do not allow some fake practiced interviews to hide the real you. Know those basic interviewing strategies and wrap it with confidence — dress professionally, come on time, know the company, be attentive, and be your confident self.

Confidence must not be mistaken for arrogance. Humility and a sincerely pleasant personality are characteristics that win the hearts of most interviewers. Confidence is an energy that they can feel and see as you come to the interview humbly cloaked with it.

Believe that you’ll get that dream job — you may be surprised. As Henry Ford said, “If you think you can, you can … If you think you can't, you're probably right.”

Rate this article 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor). Send your responses here.

Michelle Alarcon is an attorney and works full-time as assistant professor and program chair of management at Hawaii Pacific University. Visit her Web site at www.alarconlawoffice.com.