17 April 2017
For most job seekers, there are few better feelings than walking out of an interview knowing you gave the perfect response to all of your interviewer’s questions. Unfortunately, what might be a ‘perfect’ response to most candidates, might not necessarily be the type of answer a hiring manager is looking for to determine if you are truly the best fit. While some candidates try their best to plan the perfect response that makes them sound like a strong candidate, too often these answers can backfire. Over time, certain responses have become so common that they now make you sound cliché or overly rehearsed. Here are four to avoid at all costs: Q: “What is your greatest weakness?” A: “My greatest weakness is that I am a perfectionist and I work too hard.” Nothing screams ‘I have little self-awareness,’ to your interviewer like giving an answer like the above as it pertains to your weaknesses. Interviewers will typically ask this question with an understanding of how difficult it can be to talk about your own weaknesses, but a good response shouldn’t speak to your perfection. Instead, it should speak to your emotional intelligence—a quality many employers seek in new hires. As a general rule of thumb, don’t try to skirt around this question. You should always have a well thought out response that addresses an honest flaw and what you’ve done to improve upon it. Q: “Why are you leaving your employer?” A: “I’m leaving my employer because they are the worst.” Hiring managers want to know why you are seeking employment or why you are looking to leave your current employer. Revealing that you’re seeking employment because you are unhappy with your last employer is fine, but don’t take this as an opportunity to go into detail to speak negatively about them. Whether it is your crazy boss, a poor work/life balance, or inadequate benefits, you should keep this type of negative information to yourself. Why? Not only does this almost guarantee you won’t get the job, but it also speaks poorly to your sense of loyalty. In other words, if all it takes to talk negatively about an employer is being unhappy with your current situation, your hiring manager can’t help but think you would do the same thing to them down the road. Therefore, take the high road when answering this question. To do this, focus on what you learned, and how you could bring that knowledge to the role you’re interviewing for. Q: “Do you have any questions for me?” A: “I don’t have any questions, I think you’ve covered them all.” One of the best ways for an employer to decide amongst strong candidates is their level of engagement through their follow-up questions. While some interviewers may be more forthcoming than others, not asking any additional questions can raise some major red flags. For example, this can either imply you aren’t as interested in the job as you should be, or that you weren’t prepared for the interview; both of which will hurt your chances of getting hired. In these scenarios, have a few questions prepared to learn more about the role and responsibilities. Q: “Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a team member and how you overcame it?” A: “I haven’t had much conflict in the workplace; I feel like I work well with everyone.” Your potential to work well with other team members is one aspect many hiring managers try to evaluate throughout the interview process. For example, they may ask questions about workplace conflict resolution or your approach to overcoming challenges to determine if you would be a good partner to bring onto their team. Stating that you ‘work well with everyone’ might actually mean you aren’t aware of how others perceive you as a teammate. Additionally, disagreement is only natural in the workplace, so employers are interested in how you respectfully handle it. As a result, giving a vague or overly positive response can automatically take you out of the running. For questions related to collaboration, good responses focus on the traits and skills you possess that make you a person people want to work with.
17 April 2017
By becoming a certified public accountant, you have done more than just demonstrate your knowledge and skill level. Putting in the time and effort to study for and pass all four parts of the exam, demonstrates that you are clearly dedicated to the field and invested in your career. However, this momentum shouldn’t end once you attain your certification. “As you climb the ladder throughout your career, you should continuously make the effort to further develop your skills while acquiring new ones,” advises Kyle Wilkinson, a Director within The Execu|Search Group’s Accounting/Finance division, who is a CPA himself. “The role of an accountant is ever-evolving, so it’s important to ensure your skills are up-to-date with these trends. In the past it was easy to do your assigned work without understanding the bigger picture, but today, you need to be able to think and act strategically if you want to advance your career.” In recent years, there has become a greater need for CPAs who can perform more technically complex tasks. In fact, 2017’s newly designed CPA exam aims to specifically assess such skills. While future CPAs might have to develop these advanced competencies earlier in their careers, more experienced professionals looking to enhance their marketability should also make the effort to gain exposure to these bigger picture skills. To get you started, here is a list of skills that Kyle has seen his clients ask for when searching for new hires: Audit: Commercial Industries SEC reporting: It can be easy to work on an audit of a publicly traded company without getting any exposure to SEC reporting. To be more proactive, Kyle suggests asking to get involved in an upcoming 10Q or 10K filing. Revenue recognition: Ensure you do not become complacent in an industry with evolving rules and regulations by keeping abreast of new standards on revenue recognition. “New guidance on revenue recognition will be going into effect,” notes Kyle. “In fact, some companies have already had to adapt to this change.” As a result, CPAs with clients on the forefront of the new standard have already found themselves at a competitive advantage. Financial Services Financial product knowledge: Whether you want to move up at your current firm, or go to another company, financial product knowledge is a highly valued skill amongst employers. “To accurately identify and understand red flags in an audit, you must possess a strong understanding of popular financial products, including credit products such as distressed debt,” says Kyle. Waterfall models: If you audit private equity funds, being able to read through the partnership agreement and understand how it applies to a waterfall model can set you apart from your competition. According to Kyle, “this is a bigger picture skill that can help you understand the complexities of the audit.” Tax: Commercial Industries: Tax Provision (ASC 740): Although accounting for income taxes continues to pose challenges for many individuals and businesses, this is a skill that many tax accountants lack. To increase your marketability, you should know how to do the deferred tax rollforward and calculate the effective tax rate within the provision. Financial Services: Financial product knowledge: Understanding more complex book to tax differences as it relates to financial products is another skill that can make you a more valuable employee. “You should have a proven ability to analyze client brokerage and financial statements to identify (and adjust allocations for) possible disallowances by the IRS,” says Kyle. “Different types of transactions have different rules, so aim to diversify your knowledge base. For example, gaining exposure to wash sales, straddles, constructive sales, short sales, QDI, DRD, Section 1256 and Section 988 transactions is a great starting point.”