If you are actively looking for a new accounting or finance job, you are well aware that the hiring process might look slightly different today than it would have just a few short weeks ago. With calls for “social distancing” requiring us to work from home, employers too, have needed to adapt. As a job seeker, you might be wondering how this is impacting hiring and onboarding in the accounting/finance space.
“We’re seeing that many companies are still in need of qualified accounting candidates,” says Mike Ruben, a Managing Director within The Execu|Search Group’s Accounting/Finance division. “While some firms are unable to hire, many others are continuing with their hiring process and are committed to onboarding new staff. Additionally, some of our clients have decided to pause their hiring efforts in the short-term as they learn how to navigate this evolving situation. However, their positions still need to be filled. It’s just a matter of when.”
For employers interested in hiring, their challenge is not so much about adapting to a virtual interview process but rather their ability to productively onboard a new hire remotely.
“Employee training and onboarding in the accounting/finance sector is typically very hands on,” says Mike. “You naturally lose that element in a virtual onboarding process, so some employers are a little more hesitant when hiring. While technical skills are still very important, there is an entirely different set of skills needed to hit the ground running in a remote role. If a candidate is able to prove that they have these attributes, this may bridge the gap and give the employer the confidence to make the hire.”
The takeaway? While the market may be less active, there are still plenty of accounting and finance opportunities out there! To take advantage of them, however, you need to learn how to sell your abilities during a remote hiring process. Below is your step-by-step guide for acing it!
Before the interview
Test your technology: Technical glitches happen, but they can certainly shake your confidence and set the stage for a poor first impression. Avoid this situation by proactively ensuring your technology is functioning properly. Make sure your webcam turns on, your mic resonates clearly, and your internet is connected. If you can, ask a friend to do a test call with you. This can help you catch any potential issues before it’s too late.
Check your surroundings: Location is key when it comes to a successful remote interview. You’ll want to choose a well-lit, quiet area where you are free to talk openly. Once you’ve chosen your space, organize and clean up any clutter that could be a distraction to your interviewer. “When participating in a remote interview, you are in a way inviting the hiring manager into your home office,” says Mike. “Since you are showing them your specific work from home environment, you want to ensure your set up is professional and free of distractions.”
Mute notifications: The last thing you want in the middle of your interview is to be distracted by a pop-up message or a video ad. To avoid this type of situation, click out of any browsers and systems you do not need for the interview. You’ll also want to set your status as “Busy” or “Do Not Disturb” if you are using a messaging system like Skype of Google Hangouts while you are interviewing.
During “go time”
Show that you understand the company and the position: To make it to the offer stages of a remote hiring process, you need to build a sense of trust with your prospective employer. “You’ll have many opportunities to do this, but the real test will come during the actual interview,” says Mike. “Employers need to know you understand the company and how the position fits into their long-term goals.”
By presenting yourself as a candidate who has done their research and understands the expectations of the role, you can prove that you can be counted on to hit the ground running. This will be critical during a remote onboarding process, where the training might be less hands on.
Demonstrate your ability to work independently: In industries such as accounting and financial services, you might be the employer’s first full-time remote hire. “Typically, employees are granted remote work opportunities once they have demonstrated an ability to work independently,” explains Mike. “Given the current landscape, however, you need to show you have these qualities prior to landing the job.”
To do this, it’s important to discuss past experiences that show you can be successful without supervision. Some practical examples include:
- A time where your manager left the company or went on leave
- A project you spearheaded
- How you have achieved past results with little supervision
Highlight past remote work experience: “Hiring can feel less risky when the candidate already has a proven track record of success with remote work,” says Mike. “Walk the employer through the details of your past remote work experience. Outline your remote work hours, how you communicated with colleagues and clients, and the tools you used to keep track of your projects and deadlines.”
Focus on other transferable skills: If this is your first remote job, you need to take a slightly different approach. “Instead of being able to rely on your past experience, you will need to focus on your transferable skills,” says Mike. “Think beyond your technical accounting and finance skills, and consider essential skills that can help you make a seamless transition. For example, communication, organization, and time management, are all skills that are desirable in a remote employee.”
After the interview
Ask for feedback: At the conclusion of the remote hiring process, you might want to consider asking for feedback on your background and whether the hiring manager has any further questions. If you are working with a recruiter in your job search, you can ask them if the employer has additional feedback. “This allows you one final opportunity to sell yourself and/or address any concerns that the hiring manager may have,” says Mike.
Follow up: Within 24 hours of the interview, follow up with a thank you note. A good thank you note is personalized, expresses your gratitude, references something that came up during the interview, and concisely reiterates why you are a good choice for the role.