Campus Blog: How to ace that interview

By Emily Hsiung

Staff Accountant II, Assurance & Advisory | Winter/Summer 2014 Co-op

You’ve built relationships at networking events, you’ve submitted your applications, and now you’re waiting to hear on an interview. The wait can feel long, but once you get that call there’s no better feeling - except the call offering you a job. Now, there’s no way to guarantee a job after an interview, but with careful preparation you can definitely increase your chances.

Through experience on both sides of an interview and anecdotal evidence from colleagues, the following are some points to consider when preparing for an interview and when in the interview itself. Hopefully they provide some insight and help you land your dream job!


1. Do your research

Before your interview, it’s important to research the company beyond its “About Us.” Of course, it’s important to understand the general operations and goals of the company. However, it’s essentially a given that all candidates will know what the company does and for what it stands. To set yourself apart, make a point to find at least one piece of information that you identify with the most. To make an even better impression, identify something unique about the company that might not be widely known or publicized.

2. Practice, but don’t rehearse

A good way to become comfortable with the back and forth dynamic of an interview is to practice with a family member or friend. While you should write down notes or point form content you’d like to mention with each question, you should not script your answer or practice to the point of memorizing your response. This can come off monotonous, rigid, and insincere in an interview.


1. Become engaged and passionate

When you’re with your friends discussing the things you love like sports, books, music, or other activities, your passion and enthusiasm shine through. This same passion and enthusiasm should be reflected in your interview. It shows your interviewers the extent of personal investment you have in the job and the importance it carries in your life. However, be careful not to be over the top, because interviewers can also tell when enthusiasm is exaggerated.

2. Take your time

One of my first interviews for a retail position had me jumbling words together when I was unsure of how to respond to a question. It became evident to the interviewer that I was inexperienced and nervous. What I’ve learned since then is that interviewers are in no rush to get the perfect answer from you. They are patient, understanding, and appreciate when you take the time to consider your answer. This often leads to more clear and appropriate answers that only work to your advantage.

3. Be confident

It’s easy to forget that you were selected out of hundreds of applicants for an exclusive interview. This alone should give you the confidence to hold your head high, with shoulders back and a firm handshake. By choosing you for an interview, the company is communicating that they like who you are, the things you’ve accomplished to date, and that they would like to get to know you better. Be sure of yourself and what you can offer and be confident in your abilities!


Emily is a 4th year student at the University of Ottawa majoring in Commerce with a specialization in Accounting.

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