How to Prepare for Your Chartered Accountancy Campus Interviews?

The term “Campus Interview” has been the buzzword for job placements in any area of education for the last couple of decades. And Chartered Accountancy is no exception to this! While you may prefer to focus on your final examinations before thinking about job placements, understand that preparing for a CA interview is not an over-night accomplishment but requires a lot of practice to excel.

When multiple candidates are trying for the same position, you need to possess that “special trait” to set you apart from the crowd. But to be able to get that far, you first need to know what CA campus interviews are all about.

So, read on to find out more!

Tackling Common Errors!

Freshly qualified chartered accountants have a few common traits that lead them into making some of these basic mistakes:

1. Lacking Interview Preparation

You may be under the impression that your technical proficiency is all-sufficient to clear an interview. However, this is far from true as interviews encompass interpersonal skills, body language and communication skills as well and your eleventh-hour preparation might not bring you the desired results.

Also, carry the required documentation such as qualification certificates, identity proof, graduation details and the like. You definitely wouldn’t want your precious last moments to be spent on running around for these!

2. Taking Campus Interviews Lightly

The CA campus interviews conducted by the ICAI provide a wide range of opportunities where various organizations come under one roof to employ you. As these interviews are conducted at a single venue, your time, effort, and expenses are saved, besides giving you a lot of exposure and experience, both of which will contribute in toning your skills for future prospects. So attend campus interviews with seriousness and dedication.

3. Not Having a Job Profile Clarity

Many Chartered Accountants who attend interviews do so without thinking about which service line they would like to work in. With a plethora of options such as accounting, auditing, taxation, risk management, and financial analysis, one might feel overwhelmed. But you need to know which among these do you feel passionate about to seek an employment in.

Interview Etiquette to Follow

Apart from the “need-to-knows,” there are a few other parameters that interviewers are interested in. Do note to tick these on your check-list:

Dressing Sense

For men, the appropriate dress code is:

– Full-sleeved shirts

– Neatly ironed formals

– Colour coordinated tie

– Polished shoes

For women, the following are suggested:

– Western/traditional formal clothing

– No sleeveless or short dresses

– No flip-flops

Some common rules for both men and women include:

– No revealing clothing

– No bright colours. Instead, use pastel shades.

– No heavily patterned clothes

Body Language

Before you start to speak, your body language will speak for you. Some key elements you need to look out for are posture, confidence, attentiveness and openness.

– Walk in with your shoulders straight, don’t fold your arms across your chest or at your back, give a firm handshake, and maintain a steady tone when speaking. Too much gesturing and excessive facial expressions should be avoided as they will take away the impact of your words. Just keep your face relaxed and smile when the opportunity arises.

– The primary determiner of your confidence is eye contact. While you shouldn’t stare too obviously, look directly at the interviewer when answering a question or speaking about yourself. Avoid looking around the room or at the floor.

– Being an active listener goes a long way towards completing an interview successfully. Attentiveness plays a key role not only in answering the questions correctly but also in making the interviewer feel your passion towards the job. You can do this by soaking up the information provided to you and asking relevant questions.

The Secret Behind Success Stories

There are many chartered accountants who have been able to breeze through CA campus interviews successfully.

So, what is it that they are doing differently?

Reading between the lines of various success stories have revealed these success ‘mantras’:

– Good communication skills, which demonstrates your ability to speak fluently with confidence and convey your knowledge in a comprehensible manner.

– Showcasing a positive and a cool-headed attitude, exhibiting your ability to deal with ‘under-pressure’ situations.

– Researching about the company, its affiliates and the industry it operates in, gives you an edge over the others.

Every chartered accountant goes through a series of hardships before attaining great success. What matters is that you deliver your best at every interview. A few of the most successful and inspiring CAs today are Aditya Puri – Managing Director of HDFC bank, Mohandas Pai – CFO at Infosys and Kumar Mangalam Birla – Owner of the Aditya Birla Group business empire and all of them have one thing in common. And that is perseverance! Don’t ever give up on your ambition.

Interview Types and Tips

Campus interviews can be of many types. Being able to handle each one of them will give you the added advantage to rise above the rest of the candidates.

– Stress interviews are one type of interview where the interviewers ask questions to annoy, anger, or irritate the candidate. This is done to test the candidate’s ability to handle difficult situations. Maintain your calm and respond, but don’t react.

– Behavioural interviews estimate the candidate’s future behaviour based on past experiences. This can involve questions that start with ‘Tell me a time when you…’ or ‘Describe a situation where you…’. To answer such questions, you need to be prepared in advance.

– In panel interviews, multiple interviewers conduct the session at once. When attending this kind of interview, focus on the interviewer who asked you the question, but maintain eye contact with the remaining interviewers from time to time. Most importantly, answer the questions with confidence.

From One Round to Another

Most interviews usually have three main rounds of selection. These are group discussions, Human Resource and technical rounds.

Group Discussions

In group discussions, 8-10 candidates are given a debatable topic and are asked to express their opinions about the given topic. This round helps your interviewers understand how outspoken you are and how effectively you can get your point across. Here are a few tips to excel in this round of interview:

– Listen to the points being discussed

– Structure your thoughts before sharing your opinion

– Maintain confidence and speak assertively

– Be crisp and don’t use long sentences

– Maintain steady eye contact across the group

HR Round

Here, communication skills come into the limelight yet again. The candidate is asked a series of general questions right from ‘Tell me about yourself’ to ‘Why should we hire you?’. Be prepared for this round with a set of pre-noted questions to answer fluently during the interview. Try attending mock interviews to help boost your chances of survival in this round!

Technical Round

For some, this round can be frightening but remember that it is just the practical application of the examination and articleship knowledge. It is sufficient to brush up on a few important topics like AS, an introductory knowledge of US GAAP & IFRS, stock market, TDS, online return filling, Companies Act & IT act and audits before attending the interview.

Ultimately, understand that it is alright to not know the answer to every question. Especially, when difficult questions arise, do not bluff. Be honest and ask the interviewer for a moment to think about the question before answering hastily.

The Art of Negotiation

One of the biggest challenges in any interview is to discuss salary packages. While companies do have a fixed amount that they are willing to pay, if the candidate is expecting a slightly higher amount than what is being offered, then negotiating with the interviewer is quite normal. However, be prepared to receive various offers around your quote and don’t negotiate too much!

Campus Placement History

The entire country has seen ICAI’s campus placement drive for chartered accountants over the past few years. Apart from the Big Four – PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Deloitte other top recruiters who actively participated in these placements include ITC, Wipro Ltd., Accenture, Adani Enterprises besides many others. icai placement stats

Here are some statistics about CA campus placements:

– In 2017, interviews were conducted in over 22 centres pan India.

– The highest international salary packages offered were approximately INR 75 Lakhs (2016).

– The highest domestic package was INR 24 Lakhs (2016).

– The average domestic salary was INR 8 Lakhs (2017).

– Over 37% of the candidates who had attended the interview in 2017 had gotten placed successfully

– Over 118 firms and companies took part in the campus recruitment held by the ICAI in 2017.

At the End of the Day

Ultimately, if you don’t get through CA campus interviews, just relax because your opportunities don’t end there. With failure comes learning! Analyse where you went wrong and try and improve on that.

The next approach would be to look forward to other opportunities with confidence. You can upload your resume on online job portals such as Naukri or MonsterJobs and apply to the companies registered with them. You can also try to get on company websites, check for their open positions and apply directly.

Alternatively, there are management trainee postings offered by companies such as ITC and banks such as ICICI which are great fresher positions for chartered accountants.

With plenty of options out there, hold your head up high and be ready to show the world what a great Chartered Accountant you can be!

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