Corporate tax jobs are highly sought after and by the time candidates reach interview, competition is likely to be tough. Fortunately, there is plenty that candidates can do to gain an edge.
Knowledge is power
In the days leading up to the interview, applicants should make themselves very familiar with the interviewing company's website, and in particular the news sections. Candidates should know - in detail - of any recent transactions and events that the company is involved in, and have a good understanding of the history, current status, values, aims and aspirations of the organisation.. It is also a good idea to get hold of the company's latest accounts, and where applicable the annual report, and to mention these once or twice during the interview.
A full job specification will probably have been supplied, but if not, it should be requested of the company before the interview takes place. Applicants may find it helpful to review their CV alongside the job specification and make links between them. This will allow them to clearly link their own experience to the role, during interview. It is important that interviewees provide specific examples to illustrate any claims that they make.
If at all possible, short-listed applicants should speak to somebody who already works at the company, to get a sense of its culture and values. This level of preparation may sound intensive, but it is a practical way in which to assess whether the candidate-job fit is likely to be successful, and shows the interviewer that the candidate is committed and capable.
The right impression
Credibility is key to interview success for corporate tax jobs. Business dress is required and candidates should look polished but professional. This applies regardless of the level of corporate tax role applied for, be it assistant, senior manager or corporate tax partner. Candidates should arrive for their interview around ten minutes early, and ask for their interviewer by name and job title.
The nature of the questions asked in interview will depend on the remit of the role and the priorities of the company. However, some questions are frequently asked and it is helpful to be aware of these. Such questions include:
- How comfortable are you in reading and interpreting tax laws?
- Do you have much involvement in reporting processes? Please explain your involvement.
- How do you prioritise your workload?
- What has been the mix of your work between compliance and advisory?
- What do you know about this company?
- How do you deal with clients when they fail to provide you with information that you need?
- What clients/sectors have you worked with?
- Have you taken risks in your working life, and particularly in tax jobs? Please explain.
- Which tax software packages have you used? Which do you prefer, and why?
- What are your career goals?
Close the deal
A strong interview closure is a simple way to make a lasting final impression. Candidates should ask questions of the interviewer(s), that demonstrate their interest in the job. For example:
- How do you see the tax team developing?
- Can you describe the culture of this firm?
- What makes you look forward to going to work?
- What are the key objectives of your tax team?