Tips on Interviewing Online
There has been a paradigm shift in the way that interviews take place in the tax market following the pandemic in 2020, where once we met in offices, shook hands on arrival and sat across from each other in a meeting room - now virtually all interaction is online. So how can you help prepare for an online interview?
First of all make sure that the technology works, try out your Teams or Zoom link with a friend. Make sure you can take the call somewhere quiet which has a professional background – so try not to sit on your bed, a table or desk will look more professional. Double check there is nothing in shot that you might be embarrassed about such as a stupid book title, piles of laundry etc.
On the day of the call make sure you log on with plenty of time to spare.
What to Wear
You may not be in an office – but this is still an interview so think business like – you don’t need a full suit but a shirt or business like top are definitely the way to go. Don’t dress casually it will come across to the interviewers as if you haven’t made an effort and don’t take their time seriously.
If you consider that on average in an online interview you have less than an hour to impress a future employer its worth putting in some time beforehand to do some preparation. After all as a tax professional you wouldn’t do a pitch to your clients or to the Board without a considerable amount of preparation. No matter how good your CV, experience and qualifications - I recommend the following:
• Research the organisation thoroughly. An obvious starting point is their website. Ensure that you have read their press release section and are aware of any recent transactions. For accountancy firms the websites of the Top 50 can be found in the surveys section of www.accountancyage.com. You could also use this site to look up recent news articles on the firm. If the organisation is a company – try and get hold of their most recent accounts from either their own website or try Company’s House. If it’s a law firm look them up on www.icclaw.co.uk to find out what they specialise in. Also look at their rating in www.chambersandpartners.co.uk. Look to see if there are any relevant tax articles written by the interviewers (try googling their name and company name). Talk to any of your friends who work for the firm. Remember to try and ensure that you subtly mention some of this research in the interview.
• Another obvious point, that is frequently forgotten, is to ensure that you are aware of exactly what role you are being interviewed for. You shouldn’t make assumptions, always ask for a job spec and get your recruitment consultant to brief you on the position. Its sensible to then try and match your own experience to the job spec, work out where you might be light on experience and think about how you would answer questions on any part of the spec. Try and think about things you have already done which match the spec and which you could bring up in interview.
• Review your CV, try and look at it from an employer’s point of view and how it in turn compares to the job spec. Think about what you would ask if you were the interviewer.
• Make sure you know who is interviewing you? Are they a partner? Are they in HR?
• Think of questions that you want to ask them, but don’t ask about salary or benefits in the meeting. An employer does not want to think that your only motivation for moving is monetary. You should only discuss financial package if asked directly by the interviewer. Many interviewers find talking about money embarrassing and they also may not be the person who has the authority to agree a salary package. It is best to let your recruitment consultant do the negotiating round salary package – it is after all what they are trained for.
• Practice makes perfect – so try out sample interview questions, try some hypothetical ones, some competency one and some ‘get to know’ you style questions. For examples email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or look at those on our website www.georgianaheadrecruitment.com
• Being too negative - Be positive – don’t focus on the negative elements of your current role, and no matter how unhappy you may be at your current company be careful not to criticise as it can make you appear bitter. Focus on the reasons why you want the new position, why you think you can do the job rather than the reasons why you want to leave your current role. Remember this is your chance to sell yourself. Be honest, but don’t emphasise anything detrimental to your application.
• Humble Bragging – In 2015 Harvard University researchers discovered that candidates who tried to dissemble and make a ‘strength out of a weakness’ during interview questioning came across as dishonest. Whereas an honest assessment of weaknesses came across well see https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=49114 for the 2017 revised paper. So honesty really is the best policy.
• Not showing enough enthusiasm for the role. Make sure you ask questions, that you showcase the research that you have done.
• Not leaving enough time for the call and having to leave it early for a work call.
What Happens Next?
We are finding that the whole interview and on-boarding process is going online so clients are asking candidates to do on-line testing at second stage, they are sending offers by email and asking for proof of employment status online. When offers are accepted the pre-employment checks are now online and on-boarding is becoming very slick with laptops and mobile phones being couriered out to new starters. Inductions and Team Meets are also being done on-line.
This article was written by Georgiana Head. You can contact her via LinkedIn using this link.