By Mackenzie Burckbuchler
If you have been invited to a Master of Accounting (MAcc) program interview, you probably want to know what you can do to make a strong impression. During the interview, you get to showcase your personality and demonstrate why you would be a good fit for the program. Candidates who prepare for the interview and know what to expect often arrive feeling confident. We spoke with Emily O’Dell, Director of Vanderbilt’s Master of Accountancy program, to learn more about the interview process and get some preparation tips.
1. Know Your Formats
MAcc applicants will typically go through a series of one to 2 interviews. At Vanderbilt Business, candidates have 2 half-hour admissions interviews: one conducted by the program director, and one conducted by a faculty director. Both of these interviews are behavioral-based, providing candidates the opportunity to tell their story. Candidates might be asked to explain a time they had to work in a group or to discuss a time when they failed. All of these questions are intended to shed light on individual experiences, strengths, and interests.
Although the interviewer will lead the conversation, you can research behavioral-based questions online to get an idea of where the conversation might be headed. Thinking through your responses and story beforehand can help the conversation run smoothly. As O’Dell says, “Before coming to the interview, make sure you have really done your research on yourself and can communicate that well.”
2. Know Your Story
If you know your resume well and can confidently speak to its relevance, you have a strong foundation for most of the questions you’ll be asked in an interview. Candidates that stand out understand how each part of their resume contributed to their story. You should be able to communicate how your involvement shaped your interests and helped you grow. For some candidates, this might mean they discuss their part time job and what they learned about business in that role. For other candidates, they may speak to their leadership positions in campus organizations. Whatever your involvement looked like, be able to tie it all together and provide the interviewer a look into your life. During the interview, candidates will want to make sure they effectively communicate their personal qualities that will make them an asset to the program.
“These behavioral-based questions are to get to know more about your interest in the program and why you are interested in pursuing a career in Accounting. It provides you an opportunity to talk about what you have done on campus, your extracurricular activities, and your academic performance. We are looking for well-rounded individuals who can really add value to the program and to the industry” says O’Dell.
3. Ask the Right Questions
Along with providing the admissions team an opportunity to get to know you, the interview will allow you to learn more about the school. Before the interview ends, the interviewer will likely ask you if you have any questions. To make sure you develop an understanding of the program, you might want to brainstorm some questions prior to the interview. According to O’Dell, some strong questions that can show your interest in the program include asking about the qualities the school looks for in a candidate, tips for excelling in the program, and alumni success stories.
Overall, the importance of an interview cannot be understated. The interview allows candidates to differentiate themselves from other applicants. As you interact with the admissions team, you have a chance to showcase your personal skills and display why you would make a strong candidate.
Going through the admissions interview process for a MAcc program provides good practice for job interviews. As O’Dell says, “Make sure you have well-developed answers and thoughts on your experience. You want to communicate your maturity and professionalism, because that is also going to be relevant when you go through the recruiting process with the firms.”