From the blog

Virtual Interview Don'ts

5 Things Not to Do on a Virtual Accounting Interview

You landed an interview for a new accounting job. Congratulations! Odds are that it’s a virtual interview (according to a Gartner Survey in April 2020, 86% of interviews are currently virtual due to coronavirus).

Virtual interviews are here to stay, and they are the standard when interviewing for a remote accounting job – the new normal.

The question is, how can you avoid messing up a virtual accounting interview? As professional recruiters for accounting firms, we thought we’d share five quick tips with you, along with a few common mistakes to avoid.

1. Wear clothes.  Business-appropriate clothes.

We know this sounds absurd, but believe us when we tell you this has happened. Only recently we heard of a candidate conducting an interview bare-chested. 

When you interview virtually, treat it as if you are interviewing in person. Dress to impress, from head to toe. Don’t turn up in your pajamas or (god forbid) swimsuit. 

Do wear clothes below the desk, too. Yes, there are stories of interviewers being ‘flashed’ inappropriately by interviewees who have forgotten they aren’t wearing pants. 

2. Don’t be late or unprepared.

You wouldn’t dream of turning up late for an in-person interview. You take precautions to avoid doing so. You prepare the night before. You layout your clothes. You check you have everything you need. You leave your house early, to make certain you don’t get stuck in traffic. If you arrive early, you sit with a coffee at a local coffee shop to make sure you present yourself promptly.

Go through the same process for a virtual interview:

  • Prepare your questions and answers the night before
  • Get your (business-appropriate) clothes ready 
  • Make sure you have everything you need on your desk (notebook, pen, resume, etc.)
  • Test your interview technology in advance (check your computer equipment, make sure you’ve downloaded any necessary software, make sure the lighting is good, etc. – more in our next tip)
  • Be ready and at your workspace 5 minutes in advance, and log in to the meeting a couple of minutes early.  
  • Have a glass of water at hand. 

3. Don’t neglect your interview room

Have you ever been interviewed in a bathroom, bedroom, or garage? No? Then why would you invite your interviewer into these rooms in your home?

Before you say, ‘That’s ridiculous’, we have direct experience of interviewing someone in their bathroom because it was ‘the only place I can get peace in this house’. Imagine how that sounds when applying for a remote accounting job.

Make sure that your room reflects you and your professional approach to working remotely – your goal is to convince the interviewer that you can be trusted to get the work done and interact with colleagues and clients–all remotely. Here are four things you must do to your room:

  1. Declutter. We recently had a candidate lose out on a remote accounting position because the interviewer could see “trash and dirty dishes” in the background. Your virtual background should look like a professional workspace.
  2. Have nothing in the background that can be construed in the wrong way or sends the wrong message. Remove wall art that is too ‘artistic’. Nix the glittery rainbow unicorn print and/or the death metal posters. Our interviewers have seen both. Seriously.
  3. Pay attention to your video set-up. Lighting should be natural if possible, and from in front of you. (Click here for Accountingfly’s complete list of pro tips for looking good on video). Most importantly, do a test run with a friend to make certain that you and your workspace present well.
  4. Deal with any potential noise issues or distractions in advance. Nothing messes up an interview like a ringing phone, barking dog, or screaming kid. If there’s a potential interruption that can’t be avoided, the best practice is to mention it up front.  

4. Don’t be hungover (kidding, kinda); caffeinate as needed

Just because you’re meeting virtually does not mean that the interviewer won’t realize you’ve turned up after a party night. 

Especially if you have a morning interview, go to bed early the night before. Wake up refreshed, relaxed, and ready to impress. Bathe, groom, have breakfast and coffee, work out–do whatever it is that you need to do to look professional and be energized and excited for the interview.

5. Don’t forget your manners

So you can’t give a physical handshake, but you can give a virtual handshake. Do it! A good handshake creates a great first impression, and first impressions count.

How do you create your virtual handshake? Here are a few pointers:

  • Smile
  • Introduce yourself confidently, and tell the interviewer that you’re pleased to meet them (Example: “I appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and I’m looking forward to learning more about the tax manager position.”)
  • Be well-prepared for your interview. Research the hiring firm.  Re-read the job description.  
  • Keep answers short and to the point
  • Smile (yes, we’ve purposely included this a second time. We won’t mention it again.).

Be positive throughout your virtual interview, and you’ll create a string of great first impressions.

Don’t forget to give another virtual handshake when closing the interview. Thank the interviewer for their time. Tell them that you’ve enjoyed the process. Ask about the next steps. And smile. (Okay, we lied about not reminding you again to smile.)

Oh yeah, one more thing. Didn’t your parents/teachers/grandmother ever tell you to say, “thank you”? We recently had a candidate lose out on a potential $100K/yr tax job because he didn’t take the time to send a post-interview email expressing interest and saying, “thanks for your time”.

Dress to Impress and Do the Rest

These five tips will help you nail your virtual interview. From dressing to impress to leaving the interview room with a winning smile and virtual handshake, a virtual interview is not so different from an in-person interview. Your job is to show the hiring company that you are the best person for the accounting job you have applied for.

Are you considering remote accounting work for the first time, or looking for a new remote accounting job? Be the first to hear about the best roles as soon as they become available – sign up for job alerts from Accountingfly today.

Related Resources

The Freedom to Close Your Firm’s Doors

In my 12 years of running my own CPA firm, perhaps the most controversial thing I’ve done has been to close my office. It’s been three years now since we began operating as a virtual firm with no offices, no paper, and no physical contact with clients. I wasn’t sure we could pull it off, […]

A Data Security Breach is Now a When, Not an If

A Data Security Breach is Now a When, Not an If

In the information economy, data has become the lifeblood of business. (Yes, we realize the previous sentence is today’s ultimate biz blog cliche, but hey, some things are cliche because they’re true.) Accounting firms feel the impact of this transition with a degree of severity far greater than other industries. Risking the sensitive financial and […]

add a video to your accounting job posting

Adding a Video to Your Accounting Job Posting Can Improve Results

We live in an age of glowing rectangles, buzzing smartphones, and unlimited entertainment options. It’s the era of TL;DR, where innumerable sources of work and fun are constantly vying for our attention. Through email, text messages, news articles, advertisements, and industry reports for work, we’re bombarded with thousands of words a day. We couldn’t read […]