7 Ways CPAs Can Ace the Interview and Land Their Dream Job

The job market is pretty tight right now with unemployment at or near historic lows. As someone with Audit experience, your skills are strong and in high demand. So, it should be easy for you to get a new CPA job, right? In fact, you’re probably thinking that you should be able to find a Tax Senior job in another city with better salary, benefits, AND the company should pay for your relocation, too. All of these statements can be true, but no matter what type of situation you find yourself in, you need to be ready to address any red flags or hurdles that might prevent a firm that’s staffing accountants from falling in love with you and making you a big offer as their latest Tax Manager or Audit Senior.

Here are 7 things you should do before, during, and after the interview, with the help of an accounting staffing agency, like VALiNTRYfinancial, to off-set, mitigate, and minimize red flags on your CPA candidate resume so you get noticed and land your dream job!

Before the Interview

If a potential employer requests an interview with you, congratulations! Your VALiNTRYfinancial recruiter will:

  • Coordinate a mutually agreeable time
  • Send you the calendar invite
  • Prep you for what to expect
  • Give you a preview of some questions you should be prepared to answer, and what topics and questions to avoid.

1. Be Prepared

The best way to prepared for a CPA interview is to really know your resume, your experience, and what you want out of this opportunity. Remember… there’s no one on the planet better qualified to answers questions about you, than you.

You should also know the hiring firm inside and out by the time of the interview. Do your research by scouring their website and social pages to understand the culture and what they say they do well. This information will allow you to ask informed questions during the interview. Need more insight? Ask your VALiNTRYfinancial recruiter for the inside scoop about the interviewer, the partners and other elements that can help you stand out.

Additionally, a great accounting job recruiter will ask you many of the toughest questions you might hear so that you won’t be surprised. Before the interview, this is your chance to take plenty of time to formulate the answer you want to give and repeat it as many times as you need to so your answer feels natural. You should also consider conducting multiple mock interviews with friends or family members. This will give you the opportunity to get feedback and practice with a live interviewer.

During the Interview

Whether it’s on the phone, video or face-to-face, remember to smile, be positive, project confidence, and simply be yourself.

2. Bring Your Best Attitude!

At the end of the day, people hire who they like. Only 10% of the application equation comes from your resume and skills. At this stage, the other 90% is personality. How well can you build rapport with those whom you are meeting will help determine if the hiring manager will make an offer. So, forget about trying to figure out who they want you to be and simply be the person they’re possibly going to be working with in 3, 6, or even 12 months from now. Be You!

3. Be honest (but positive) about why you are looking for work.

Your VALiNTRYfinancial recruiter will review your CPA experience and ask questions to understand your work history, skill set and any employment gaps. They will also have insight into the firm’s culture and can prep you for what to expect. Finally, they will help you clarify and refine your message for the interview. In the interview, it’s ok to say things like:

  • You’re disappointed you were let go, or you are looking for a new challenge.
  • You’re looking for the opportunity to relocate and be closer to family/friends, etc.

But NEVER speak poorly of your former employers. This only looks bad on you, not them. Additionally, depending on when you’re looking, you could also focus on the silver lining that your circumstance has given you the opportunity to pursue your desire to move during the summer/fall when it’s more advantageous to both you and the firm do so.

A potential employer will likely not know your circumstances or have any idea who your prior firm was so this is your chance to control the message. If there’s any negativity brought into the conversation, it’s likely because you consciously or subconsciously put it there so, remember to stay positive.

4. What if they ask, “Why haven’t you been hired yet?”

This is one of the hardest Red Flag Questions to overcome because it involves mystery, speculations, and instinctual fears. The immediate inference can be a couple of things:

  • “What’s wrong with this person?”
  • “What are other firm’s seeing that we don’t want to get caught overlooking?
  • “This feels too good to be true, we better not engage.”

Offsetting these can be tough, but overcoming these concerns effectively is certainly doable… and here are some ways in which you can best help yourself:

    • Be honest and be willing to be an open book about your efforts so far. But saying you’ve cast a wide net and applied to 50 jobs on Indeed is not a good answer.
    • Stay Positive and keep your mindset on the future! Don’t dwell on what happened to you… Focus on that matters to you and how much you’re looking forward to helping.
    • Be prepared to show you’ve done your homework and the obvious precursor to this is… DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!
      1. Know where you’ve applied
      2. Know where your resume has gone at all times
      3. Know where you’ve interviewed within the last 12 months
      4. Know why you were passed on (if you can capture it)
    • Have your professional references ready. This will be a huge selling point if they can be contacted quickly and can provide glowing reviews of your work. It offsets fear and fills in some of the unknown.
    • Stay active! Show what you’ve done to stay busy and that you’re motivated!! Maybe you picked up tax work where you could, volunteered your accounting expertise to a non-profit, knocked out your CPE’s, studied and took the CPA exams, brushed up or picked up new software skill, etc. If you have had the time, you should have some activity to show for it.
    • Talk about your industry engagement on LinkedIn. Here are a few examples of groups to join and engage with:
      1. AICPA Tax Practitioners
      2. Accountants of the Future
      3. Accounting Today
      4. National Association of Tax Professionals.

5. Prove Your Commitment

Your VALiNTRYfinancial recruiter will have already let the hiring firm know you’re relocating and why. So, what can you focus on to ensure you’re demonstrating your commitment to the move?

  • Consistently reiterate your strong desire to be closer to your friends/family, etc. and that you love the firm’s area. This isn’t just important, it’s paramount. You must communicate this isn’t just a decision on a whim to try it out.
  • Show you’ve already taken steps to prove your commitment level and help ease their concerns. Communicate that you’ve investigated and effectively worked out the major logistics with regards to your move like a place to live and transportation.

After the Interview

Once the interview is over, the real work begins.

6. Inform Your Recruiter

As soon as you leave your interview, call your VALiNTRYfinancial recruiter to download them on your feedback on the interview and perceptions about the firm itself. Your recruiter will then reach out to the firm, get their feedback, and ask about next steps. If the firm wants to move forward with an offer, it’s time to start talking logistics and timing.

7. Stay in Communication

Your VALiNTRYfinancial recruiter will be working diligently to ensure you are the right fit for the firm and get you the offer you want. At this point, your job is to be accessible and communicative by:

  • Programming your VALiNTRYfinancial recruiter’s phone into your contacts and adding their email to your VIP email list.
  • Responding quickly to any requests for further information or feedback.
  • Sharing any concerns or issues you may have with your recruiter after the interview.
  • Making a decision quickly once the final offer is made.

As previously stated, the job market for CPA, Tax Senior, and Audit Senior roles is hot and it should be easy for you to land your dream job. That doesn’t mean you don’t need a little extra help to find the perfect role at the perfect firm in the perfect location for you. With these tips and a great accounting staffing firm like VALiNTRYfinancial by your side, you’ll land your dream job quickly.

What are you waiting for? Contact the VALiNTRYfinancial recruiting team and get started today!

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