Trend Spotter - Robert Half - AICPA

Today’s accounting job search is anything but predictable. In addition to developing your professional network and utilizing online career tools, you may be expected to polish your social media presence and do a video interview.

As firms compete for skilled finance and business systems professionals amid a talent shortage, they are eager to land new hires as quickly and efficiently as possible. The virtual interview expedites the process and reduces costs. Another factor influencing the growing use of the video interview is that many accountants today work remotely and rarely interact with colleagues in person.

While a video interview is like an in-person interview in many respects, there are some important differences. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your next video interview.

1. Work out any kinks in your technology beforehand

Fear of interview etiquette blunders are enough to send the average finance professional retreating to his or her comfort blanket. Add video technology to the mix, and the challenge can appear even more daunting. Here’s a checklist to make sure you and your equipment are ready:

  • Download the necessary apps or software several days before the interview so you can test it out with a friend. Don’t go into the video interview unsure about how to operate Skype, Facetime, GoToMeeting or Google Hangouts.
  • Spend some time exploring the technology, such as figuring out how to enter the virtual interview, where the mute button is, how to disconnect and how to speak into the microphone so your voice can be heard.
  • You will look more professional on camera if you don’t wear earbuds or headphones. But if your location has a lot of ambient noise, use discreet equipment like a wireless earpiece with built-in microphone.
  • Pick a location with a strong Wi-Fi signal. If you have a weak or slow Internet connection, you’re going to have a frustrating video interview experience — with audio that cuts in and out and possibly a dropped session.
  • Before the interview, make sure your laptop or mobile device is plugged in or fully charged. It will be hard to land the job if your phone ran out of juice and prematurely ended the interview.

2. Position your camera for a flattering angle

No one wants to look at shaking images of your nostrils, but that’s often what other people see when you hold your device and look down. Other camera positioning tips to keep in mind:

  • For a video interview, a desktop or laptop computer is better than a handheld because the picture is more stable.
  • If using a phone or tablet, get a stand.
  • Also consider the distance and angle. If you’re too close to the screen, you’ll look like a giant head on the other end.
  • Aim to include your upper body in the frame. And position the screen so that the camera is at about the same height as your forehead.

3. Look at the camera

For virtual interviews, look into the camera when speaking. It might seem odd, but it will come across as normal (like in-person eye contact) on the other end. Since eye contact is an important aspect of nonverbal communication and body language, force yourself to look above their head when they are talking.

4. Do mock interviews

Ask a friend to join you in a trial run and offer feedback. Your setup should be the same as it will be on the actual day: equipment, room, lighting and even clothing. Have them ask you interview questions you’ve developed after studying the accounting and finance job description and take notes as you answer. Fix any problems and do another run-through.

5. Get fully dressed

Some job candidates opt to wear sweat pants or iron just the front part of their shirt — thinking people on the other end will never see their back or bottom half. Don’t tempt fate. Put the same care into your interview attire and grooming as you would for an in-person interview. Doing so will also help you feel more confident, poised and professional.

6. Minimize distractions

When you interview in a potential employer’s conference room, it’s quiet and your roommate or child won’t be barging into the meeting. With virtual interviews, however, you’re responsible for controlling your environment. So take your puppy to a neighbor’s house. Put up a large “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door and turn off your phone (unless you’re using it) so it won’t distract you. Do everything in your power to avoid video interview bloopers and taking yourself out of the running for that dream job.

As technology improves and more companies seek to expedite the hiring process, the video interview will likely grow in popularity. When it’s time for you to virtually meet potential employers — and show them how you can help them improve their bottom line — make sure you’re ready for your close-up.

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This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources. Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm placing accounting and finance professionals on a temporary, full-time and project basis. For career and management advice, follow our blog at