By Rob Starr, Big4. com Content Manager
As the President and Founder of Dubin & Lee, a corporate accounting & finance executive search firm, Saundra Lee is a welcome addition to our series of career development interviews. She’s spent 15 years headhunting talent within corporate accounting and finance and has worked with a $12 billion corporation on building its accounting and finance teams. Big4com spoke with her recently about guidelines for the successful interview.
“When I started my company in 2008, there was a deep recession , so I wanted to make sure
that we could really focus on helping those people that were having difficulty landing a position because I’ve recruited through three recessions and that last one was the most difficult for people to get back to work,” she said noting a few simple “tweaks” she’s categorized help people through the major areas where they might otherwise ruin their chances of getting the position they’re interviewing for.
She uses the image of the qualities the company wants and what the candidate has to offer as overlapping circles with the intersection containing the topics best suited to a successful interview. Lee says even executives with experience often ignore this model at their own peril.
“I’ve found that people like your Controllers and CFOs tend to fall off when it comes to spending too much time talking about one area where they have lots of experience in one environment that’s not relevant to that particular company.”
As a result, the interviewer starts to second guess the candidate’s motivation and whether they’ll be happy with the position. On the other side of the coin, more junior interviewees tend to spend too much time rationalizing why they don’t have more of a particular kind of experience. Lee offers a multi-part strategy here that starts by transitioning from just saying they’re lacking in one area directly into a real life work example of something that is similar. Finally, candidates can make it clear they would find the opportunity to get involved with the new experience exciting.
Common Interview Shortcoming
“Falling off on either one of those sides and forgetting to pull it back to the center is where I think a majority of people fail,” she says adding another common interview shortcoming is the ability to communicate experience in a believable way that involves creating a narrative around these attributes.
“People’s minds work in pictures,” she says. “Don’t just say that you’re very hands on and detailed oriented. Give an example of a situation where you showed those attributes so the interviewers can recall the imagery you created later.”