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Proactive Career Management: Prep for the Interview Process in a Candidate-Driven Job Market

With a scarcity of top talent in accounting and finance, job openings at an all-time high, and historically fast job growth, the 2021 talent war is a prime time for career transitions.

Over the past couple of months you’ve kept a pulse on new opportunities, considered your long-term goals, talked with your current manager about internal growth and promotions, and researched growing and progressive companies. You made the decision to move on and are ready for the interview process. Here’s how to go from hunting to hired during a candidate-driven job market.


Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

We can’t say this enough: update your resume, research the company, and know the position. It’s important to tailor your resume for each specific job description. It’s equally important to craft thought-provoking questions to help you standout. Job interviews are a two-way street. Having meaningful, relevant questions helps you better determine if the position is a good fit, shows that you have done your homework, and confirms you are seriously interested in the company. Strong questions include asking about:

  • Company culture
  • Senior leadership
  • Clients and industries served
  • Technology used to enhance day-to-day operations
  • Professional development
  • Any positive, recent news about the company or its leaders
  • Work-from-home and hybrid policies (By mid- to late-September most companies will have finalized their hybrid and/or return-to-work policies. Know what you want and discuss that with the interviewer.)


Leverage Hiring Technology: AI and Key Terms

Artificial intelligence helps expedite the hiring and search process. Many companies use applicant tracking software (ATS) for initial key term searches in resumes. This automates the first step in the hiring process by filtering through hundreds of resumes and searching for terms related to the job description. It’s important, however, to understand that your resume will eventually be seen by a human recruiter. There is a balance between overuse of key terms and maintaining clear, concise communication that best positions you for the job. Work with recruiters in accounting and finance who know the industry and open positions. They will help you craft the best messaging for your resume.


Make a Good Digital First Impression

Whether you interview in the office or via video, ensure you are well-positioned to make a good first impression. Many organizations are conducting initial interviews virtually. This is a good opportunity to showcase your digital savviness:

  • Ensure high quality video and audio. Prior to the meeting, test your bandwidth for a strong connection and make sure your camera and microphone are working.
  • Download the meeting platform in advance and test it with a couple of friends or family members. It could be detrimental if you’re unable to establish a strong connection for your conversation.
  • Position yourself with bright light on your face, whether natural or from a lighting accessory. Most online retailers have inexpensive options that work great and can be delivered quickly.
  • Find or create a clean and professional looking background. Remove any messes or clutter behind you. If possible, avoid having your bed in the background.
  • Create a quiet room or area and wear headphones if you anticipate ambient noise might be a problem.
  • Close the door to your video location to minimize distractions.
  • Wear professional clothing.
  • Get comfortable looking into the camera and not down or away from your computer.
  • Know how to share screens so you can showcase samples of your work.

When preparing for your initial interview, ensure you feel ready and comfortable for the conversation. Know the company and tailor your resume for that position. Craft thought-provoking interview questions and make a good digital first impression. Once you’ve completed the first interview start preparing to ace the second one.


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