Guide to avoid job interview mistakes

  • 01-02-24
  • David Landau

You’re feeling pretty confident; have been through the job interview process (and avoided common interview mistakes) for your next accounting job and all signs point to an incoming job offer. However, let’s not get carried away just yet. There are still several circumstances that could impact your being offered your dream job.

We don’t come across it often, but seeing a candidate do everything right just to fall at the last hurdle even once, is too many times for us. To avoid that fate, here are four common mistakes to watch out for if you don’t want to lose your dream job in accounting, finance, or a related field of excellence.

Inflating salary expectations

When you start your job search you would be well advised to research market salaries carefully. If the job you are applying for is via a recruitment agency, then they should have spoken about the job’s salary range and then represented you in line with your worth and expectations. This leaves everyone very clear about what salary to expect if you are ultimately offered the role.

This is where recruiters like Richard Lloyd can be incredibly helpful as they have the data at their fingertips. It’s important to know the current market rates as demanding a salary that is too high will likely make you seem unaffordable or out of touch with the current market. As salaries have changed significantly over the last 18 months, it's worth doing your own research and speaking to your consultant at Richard Lloyd for an idea of where your role sits in the market.

With that being said, if entering into salary negotiations via a direct application to a company, take a look at your priorities. Take time to understand deep down what is it your real motivator is for moving. Is it really a bigger salary (nice though that is) or is there somethng else of substance that is not being met in your current role? From the research we have done, salary is far from the be-all and end-all in terms of workplace happiness.

Listing career-appropriate references

Choosing the wrong people as referees can seriously jeopardise success, which is why it’s important to offer the names and contact details of people you trust, typically direct managers, who are likely to enhance your application. A referee from 10 years ago won’t be able to provide up-to-date information on your performance irrespective of whether you continue to be in contact with them or not.

Once you have chosen a referee, do them the courtesy of providing an advanced warning to avoid them being called out of the blue with no time to prepare. Not doing so is disrespectful, and can significantly hurt your chances. A prepared referee will be able to discuss past performance and dates of employment more effectively than one who isn’t.

Prioritising references will also help to ensure everything is in order. If an employer comes across any gaping holes or conflicting information, then it could raise some red flags.

Starting to negotiate other terms late in the process

If there are certain ‘must-have’ terms to accepting an accounting job, they need to be mentioned to your Recruiter early in the process so that they can be managed appropriately. Whether it’s an upcoming holiday, a half-day every second Friday, or remote working arrangements, dropping a significant request at the last minute could bring your integrity into question. Employers will ask themselves "What other demands will the new employee suddenly spring on me when they start?".

On a similar note, ultimatums are never a good idea either. This is a collaborative process, which means requests and negotiations are generally fine, but there is no place for demands. Only accepting a job if certain conditions are met can indicate to the employer that you’re difficult to work with, which will cause more problems than an offer that’s below expectations. It is important that any requests are fair.

Not being honest

It may be a cliché, but it still rings true: honesty is the best policy. Being untruthful about a work situation, be it how much you earn in your job, reasons for leaving roles, experience or qualifications, or misrepresenting involvement in work and projects, can kill your chances.

The truth is likely to come out during the reference stage, where key details are likely to be verified by the interviewer, if not earlier. Similarly, falsely increasing a previous salary in the hope of inflating negotiations will usually be fairly obvious for experienced employers who have a good understanding of the market and your 'on-the-job' performance will well and truly be exposed as sub-par should you be offered the job.


When it comes to being offered a job in accounting or finance in Sydney, remember that nothing is certain until the contract is signed. By avoiding these common mistakes and showing transparency at every step, potential employers will have no reason to doubt your integrity/ability or any cause to discontinue the process at the final stage.

If you need further advice or are looking for support in your Sydney Accounting job search, get in touch.

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