On Thursday, October 2, 2014 the Zicklin Graduate Tax Society (ZGTS) welcomed EY Recruiter for Baruch College, Merilee Martin, along with fellow EY Recruiters, Ritu Malhotra and Stacey O’Brien, as well as Anna Lam, Senior Manager, International Tax Transfer Pricing, Financial Services Office, and Baruch alumni Igna Sokolova, Manager, IT Risk Assurance and Olya Veramchuk, Tax Manager, Financial Services Office. The afternoon was filled with insights on how to stand out from the crowd for both the right and wrong reasons.
Ms. Martin, who moderated the event, invited Ms. O’Brien to present on the “Do’s and Don’ts of Interviewing.” First on the list was a “Positive work attitude.” “All accountants are high performers so your attitude will get you the job, set you apart and keep you successful.” Secondly, “Networking,” as in “Networking is a process, it’s meeting someone, getting their contact information, staying in touch and meeting up with that person at events.” The piece of advice that got the most laughter was “Don’t be a gnat, have some self-awareness, show your interest in the firm and move on.”
Ms. O’Brien then shared the following advice in regards to applications: “Double check your work when you customize cover letters, you don’t want to send an EY recruiter a letter addressed to PwC.”
Ms. O’Brien next discussed a few things recruiters notice at career fairs that candidates should be aware of, termed Career Fair Legends:
Career Fair Legends:
• Don’t come to a career fair chewing gum and don’t push ahead of the line to talk to the recruiter.
• “Be respectful of your classmates and their time, and also be cognizant of the fact they may have gotten there before you.” Ms. O’Brien advises using the time waiting in line as an opportunity to review your resume and prepare for when it’s finally your turn to meet the recruiter.
• Investing in a portfolio to hold your resume is a good idea, as it will prevent you from presenting crumpled resumes and will help make a good first impression.
• Perhaps her most important piece of advice for overeager students is to be mindful of the recruiter’s time and space. It is not appropriate to follow recruiters out of the professional setting designated for an event whether it is to the restroom, the elevator, the lobby or out of the building. If you don’t get enough time to speak to the recruiter on a one-on-one basis “follow up with an e-mail.”
• As far as social media is concerned, LinkedIn is the only platform students should be using to connect with professionals.
Keep in mind it typically takes seven good interactions to override one negative interaction.
Ms. O’Brien also shared some tips on interview preparation.
Preparing for the Interview:
“Being well prepared will impress the interviewer because it will be evident that you have spent time thinking about how your accomplishments will help you achieve success in the future.” Ms. O’Brien reminded students that resumes are evolving documents that change as you develop professionally, and must be reviewed by at least three sets of eyes every time a change is made. Some additional points she made were:
• When meeting the interviewer, make sure your handshake is strong and firm.
• “Everything on your resume is fair game. If your involvement in an organization is non-existent don’t include it.”
• “Smile and project enthusiasm.” By doing so you look like a person who wants the job.
• Be comfortable with the fact that an interview can be a conversation. “Interviews should be a two way street; make sure to get all the information you need to make a decision in the event you have multiple job offers.”
• Ms. Lam advised that when you are asked questions you are unsure of, stay calm and if you don’t know the answer try your best. The goal of difficult questions is to get to know candidates and see how they handle themselves through their reactions. Ms. Sokolova added that often candidates do know the answer to difficult questions; they just have to take a moment to compose themselves and answer as best they can. But remember if you really cannot answer a question that’s okay too.
• A key piece of advice is that when asked whether you have questions, you should always be prepared with a few questions; otherwise you risk coming across as uninterested in the firm or position. “Even if you asked the same question to someone else ask it again, as you will get different responses.”
• Finally, e-mail a thank you note after the interview; while a handwritten card is nice, it may not reach the recruiter before they make the hiring decision.
• Remember, preparation is critical and will help with your execution.
The presentation ended with a panel discussion, where panelists were asked questions collected from Baruch students prior to the event.
• The first question, “What stands out on a resume?” was directed at Ms. Malhotra, who replied that leadership qualities and giving back to the community impress her, because it demonstrates your ability to manage your time effectively.
• Ms. Veramchuk urged students to attend as many on-campus events as possible, adding that she did not attend enough of these during her time at Baruch and had she done so, she would have been much more informed.
• Ms. O’Brien mentioned that storytelling is a great way to communicate your accomplishments in an interview. Every story should have a beginning, middle and end that shows actions you took and what the outcome was. Ms. Malhotra
refers to this as “SAR” or Situation, Action and Result.
• When asked to what extent candidates should know about EY, Ms. Sokolova mentioned she gets discouraged when candidates don’t know about the basics of the firm. “Display that you know the firm. Know why you want to work for EY. Be prepared with examples such as knowing about Vision 2020. Know about high-level things going on within the company.” Ms. Lam agreed, “When you know what’s going on within the firm, it shows how interested you are in the company.”
• For the weakness interview question, Ms. O’Brien said, “Embrace the fact you have one, tell us what you have done to remedy it and explain how you bounced back. Show it’s a work in progress and that you are self-aware.”
• A question we all ask ourselves is: “If you don’t get your dream interview what can you do?” to this Ms. Malhotra replied, “Stay connected to your contacts at the firm, and use those networks. It’s a very competitive process and you can always check the firm’s website this coming spring.
The students in attendance were very appreciative of the advice offered. The consensus was a positive one and can be summarized by MS Accountancy student Wei-Yun (Michelle) Hsieh’s thoughts: “The event was very helpful. Gathering questions from students beforehand was a great idea, because they addressed all of our concerns.”