Greg Share has 12 years of university recruitment experience sourcing top-candidates, and 5 of which have been as a campus recruiter for Ernst & Young (EY).
Here are some questions we will be answering:
– How do navigate virtual career fairs with big firms like EY?
– Who should you speak with, what do you say, how do you differentiate yourself?
– Should the conversation you have with a recruiter be different than speaking with a professional from that company?
– How do you have an organic conversation when networking?
Connect with Greg Share: www.linkedin.com/in/gregoryshare/
Get 1-on-1 Career Coaching: www.careercoachingcompany.com/
Follow our Host, AJ Eckstein, on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/aaron-aj-eckstein/
*Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in this podcast are of the host and guest and not of their employers.
“You have to let your personality chime through. The interesting thing is it’s just as much for the firms as it is for the students.” – Greg Share
Welcome to the Final Round podcast, where our mission is to help you knock out the competition and land your dream job. My name is A.J. Eckstein, and I’m a recent college graduate, a strategy consultant, a five-time intern and the founder of the Career Coaching Company. Have you ever wondered why only a few people get past the final round interview and land the job offer?
Join me in the ring as I speak with recruiters at top companies to learn the secrets why certain applicants get “knocked-out” and others are still standing after the final round. The Final Round podcast is brought to you by Career Coaching Company. They offer one-on-one, live, tailored coaching from recent grads who work at leading companies across multiple industries like consulting, investment banking and much more.
Now, let’s jump into the ring and get you past the final round.
Last week, we interviewed Marisa Jones, a recruiter from Airbnb. This week we’ll be learning more about the accounting industry. Greg Share has 12 years of university recruitment experience sourcing top candidates. Five of those years have been spent as a campus recruiter for Ernst & Young or EY, for short. EY is one of the big four accounting firms, which also includes Deloitte, PWC and KPMG. If you’re listening today and maybe you’re on the fence about accounting, that’s totally fine because EY also offers consulting services. If you’re a university student, they have a ton of unique student programs and internships like Discover EY, Global Zoom Experience and a Launch internship. Now, let’s welcome Greg.
Greg: I’m excited to connect with you again and share some knowledge. I know this is an important topic.
I would say that you are a very unique recruiter in that you are very hands on in terms of you’re always on campus. Right? I remember when I was at USC and I’d be skateboarding or biking to and from class, I would always see you in your EY polo shirt with the logo and you’d either be tabling by the accounting school or the business school or I would see you at an EY recruiting event. So, I’m curious to know, what has that experience been like being so hands on? I feel like you almost attend the schools that you recruit from.
Greg: Yeah! Well, I definitely appreciate that. I think a piece of that is proximity. I’m lucky enough to have USC as a school, which is five minutes from our office and I also live fairly close so it’s a great kind of escape for me. Not an escape, but it’s great to be on campus. As you know it’s a beautiful campus and fun to be around. My professional career prior to EY, I actually worked at USC. So, I have spent quite a bit of time there. Going into recruiting especially campus recruiting so this is a bit different than maybe experience high recruiting or working in a staffing agency.
Campus recruiting is very hands-on because working with young professionals still in college, a lot of development that’s happening which is great. So, I think you do have to be a little bit more hands on than maybe someone that’s been working for 10 years. So, every firm, every company is a bit different but at least for EY, we are structured where there are more people connected to the business, really working with actually hiring goals and things like that. Then we have those that’d be more focused on a campus piece, being on the ground with students like yourself, attending events. Both positions are really fun, both have unique opportunities and challenges but I definitely love the campus piece being at events working with students, albeit virtually right now, but still, it’s a lot of fun and a lot of engagement.
It’s interesting. You said that you obviously are always on campus for certain events. I remember when I was at USC, one of the scariest events walking in was Meet the Firms. For the listeners out there, who don’t know what Meet the Firms is, it’s basically this huge event where you collect all of the accounting students, students who’s interested in business to come to this huge event and it brings in the big four accounting firms like EY as well as some more boutique accounting firms and it’s in this auditorium size room and you go and meet the firms. I remember walking in, it was my first time. I think I was a junior. I was wearing a student tie and I looked around and I just saw a sea of people wearing blue and black suits with essentially the same tie. In my head, I said, ‘Okay. Well, I go to a great school, I’ll be fine,” but then I remember it was just for USC students. So, I’m curious to know, obviously when you were wearing your EY shirt at the EY table and there’s just literally thousands of students from the same schools, basically the same background, how do you differentiate yourself amongst this sea of students?
Greg: You have to let your personality shine through. The interesting thing is it’s just as much for the firms as it is for the students. Even when we start talking about what we do, you can probably go to the next booth and hear the exact same thing, we audit, we tax, we do consulting work. We all have really cool clients. So, I think it was the personality and culture and finding that fit. That’s really important. I know the students who come , especially the younger ones, are often nervous and the thing you want to keep in mind is we’re there for a reason. We’re not forced to be there. We want to be there. We want to meet really eager, exciting, intelligent students and that’s why we’re there because we always have and we look forward to meeting more. Sometimes it just takes a breath and remembering that we’re excited to meet everyone there.
Again, likewise, I think we need in our people, we always encourage them to let our personality show through and talk about the culture of working in a collaborative environment like EY, working with clients. The whole fulfillment that comes out of client’s service is helping companies be better. Definitely just the social part of working in a firm. You put on a lot of hours so it’s important you like the people that you’re working with and the teams. There’s a lot of opportunities to grow not just doing a 9:00 to 5:00 day job but whether it’s on our professional networks or joining a sports league or taking advantage of our health reimbursement or all this kind of exciting stuff. I find that we actually try to talk more about that stuff than maybe the day-to-day audit tax work. That’s equally important and that comes later. When you go to an event like Meet the Firms, it’s time for students to shine through their personalities and then for us as a firm to really show our culture.
Do you mind diving deeper in terms of what you mean by showing your personality? How does one do that whether it’s meeting the firms or any recruiting event in person or virtual?
Greg: I think you have your resume as a starting point. That is an important tool for going through the process. Let that be your foundation. But have talking points like interesting things to say about the different clubs or organizations or even old projects. Maybe you worked on an accounting project where you actually dove deep into data and analytics and you found this really cool. Something that you think would be relevant to the professionals but you don’t just have to show up, start listing off the things on your resume like we get it, we’ll have the time to look at that. But tell us something different that’s not on your resume. It could be an interest too. I think it needs to be relevant. Start talking about the movies you saw kind of tied all together about why you’re interested in the company and how your interest may be tied into you being a movie buff.
EY has a number of entertainment clients. There’s ways to weave it in but I think using your resume and talking about things that aren’t on the page is always helpful and that lets your personality shine through. It is a social setting. So, I think not everyone is an extrovert. I’m actually an introvert when I take all the questions. I love being in front of people but I’m technically an introvert. You don’t have to be a super bubbly, extroverted person. You can be, but know that it is like going to be a social setting so practice. Be out there with your clubs and organizations, practice socializing and networking so that you’re more confident in it. I think that’s also an important component.
How do you walk the fine line between staying obviously on the professional side but also showing some unique interest outside of work?
Greg: As a college student, we know that you all have like activities. So, maybe you’re interested in sports and so you’re part of the accounting society like Soccer League. I think there’s a way to tie in so that it’s relevant and again, you’re just not randomly talking about things that you do in your spare time but also, you’re going to have to play off of the conversation. Maybe the professional is super interested in movies as well. You kind of like to spin off into this organic conversation. But honestly, I think if you’re going to have a few things that you know you want to talk about, try it on your friends, like ask your peers. Oftentimes I see students use their peers. If you aren’t already doing that, definitely do that because I think it’s important to leverage your network when you’re trying out and seeing what you think would be best. So, just like you’re practicing your interviews and looking at each other’s resumes, I think you should leverage your peers for networking too.
I remember I used to chat with my friends and obviously we would chat for things outside of recruiting but when we were about to prepare for recruiting, we would chat, like you said, about what’s your quick elevator pitch? What are some of your interests? What are your main talking points? I guess, what are your key differentiators? I do remember that it was pretty easy at least from my understanding to talk with let’s say an EY professional at the EY booth, but talking to the recruiter is a little bit more nerve-wracking because you know that’s the main point of contact.
For the people out there who ever wonder, how do you find your recruiter? It’s usually the person who has the longest line. I remember everyone had one to two people waiting to talk to an EY professional but when Greg was standing there, you see there’s 50 people just waiting there, holding their resumes, super nervous. So, do you think it’s a different conversation talking to a recruiter versus an EY professional who is actually in the audit group, for instance?
Greg: I do. I don’t think you have to prepare wildly. But there’s two different things going on there. It’s not frustration but I’m always like, “No, go talk to the professionals,” because at the end of the day, you have to remember, the recruiter is not someone you’re going to work with day-to-day. Their job is to help find the best and brightest talent and put them on these different teams. So, my job and how I’m measured is: am I helping bring in good talent? So, I think talking to me about how you were going to be good on our audit team or work really well communicating to managers and those skills are really important and are going to be like old school in my head about how great a fit you’re going to be on those teams. But we’re just talking about building that report and talking about things you like to do and tying it back to like, how are you like working on teams and all that kind of stuff.
I appreciate hearing that but that I think is much more important for professionals that you ultimately might work on teams with and be with day-to-day. So, I think for the recruiter it’s showing that demonstrated interest that you know A. like the positions we’re recruiting for, what we do as a firm. I’m honestly there to help introduce people and kind of move around and, “Oh, just go talk to this person and this person.” So, always great to connect face to the names so definitely introduce yourself to the recruiter but don’t prioritize it over getting to me. Staff or managers or even partners, because I think those relationships are quite honestly probably more important. Although I love it when I’m running to all the people that I get to recruit and it’s really fun for me and I do like getting to know candidates but if you see a line, come back later, definitely prioritize getting to know the people and the culture because you will learn a lot more by getting to know them.
Going off of what you said, it’s super important to understand that on the backend of recruiting, it’s not just a recruiter like yourself making all the decisions. It’s a group effort. Even if Greg vouches for the candidate that we’re talking about. There have to be other people in the room who are decision makers who can say, “Yup, I spoke to that person. Awesome conversation. He seems like he’s really interested in EY.” So, I think I agree with you that you shouldn’t just talk to the recruiter. He’s a great person to speak with but also talk with others and get the standard approval and have good deep conversations with others.
Greg: Yeah, and I think even having that intention behind knowing that I’m going to meet these different professionals too, get to know the day in and day out of the work, how they team, different technologies that they use, their interests, things they like is great. And then coming back to me and then almost letting me know, “Hey, I’m going to be applying for that audit internship. I got to talk to Michael, the manager over there. He told me how important data and analytics are. I’m really going to look forward to doing a class.” Like those types of things actually resonate when I see that you’ve already started making those in roads to getting to know the professionals. I think it’s super helpful. But yeah, to your point, we hire plenty of people that I have a few conversations with or maybe sometimes not at all and they’re perfectly qualified, and made great connections with the professionals. Don’t get to meet everyone and have super in depth conversations, but when I do, I really love it. So, definitely always say hi to the recruiter, get to know them but also definitely prioritize getting to know professionals.
Making Lasting Relationships Virtually
Obviously, everything we mentioned was more so for an in -person meeting. I never thought I would say this but I generally do it. I’m sure I missed the in-person interaction. Of course, now it’s tough to make lasting relationships virtually. What are some strategies or some ways in which people can maximize their chances of making those lasting relationships given that most recruiting events today and for the next few months or this year will be virtual?
Greg: More so than ever I think we always encourage people to be on LinkedIn, but now more than ever I think it’s important to have an active LinkedIn because that’s now your business card in addition to your resume and having those two like whether we talk to each other make sure both are updated together. Meeting professionals at these virtual events is important but I think we all know there’s virtual fatigue. So, just be mindful. It’s not a sprint. It’s definitely a marathon. I think checking with professionals, maybe once every few weeks but also maybe you’ve met three people and then this week you focus on meeting someone and having a more in-depth coffee chat, the next week you focus on someone else. Definitely spread it out because I think we’re just seeing so much virtual fatigue both on our end but also the students.
So, I don’t want candidates to feel like they just need to meet everyone tomorrow and have a hundred different coffee chats because I think it takes time and investment and you’ll get to know, you’ll see the relationships that are good and you had like one or two chats. You have others that really just organically blew and you’re constantly checking in. I think those are the people that you often end up admiring their career path and learning more about where they got to be where they’re at and in turn even in the future make great mentors. So, definitely I think leveraging tools like LinkedIn, staying in touch with people but being mindful I think that they don’t have virtual fatigue is important, is really important too. Switching it up to maybe at the Zoom but maybe also sometimes it’s a phone call.
Let’s say that you’re in an EY recruiting event for maybe a Zoom organization and the virtual waiting room to talk to someone like yourself is too long and the event ended, do you advice that student to reach out to you and schedule one-on-one after the event or do you more so want them to focus on the time spent at the event?
Greg: I think this goes back to, again, if the recruiter is likely going to be at every event. Even then, if you don’t have the opportunity, that’s okay. Plenty of people are so greatly qualified and so we end up hiring and that’s why the job also is just helping facilitate that process. Again, going back to prioritizing, I think your timing getting to know the professionals but the other thing is that if there was a professional, maybe you saw, definitely you’re taking down names and email addresses of people you meet but maybe you see people on a queue or in a lobby or any some of the platforms you actually see a lot of professionals and you only got to talk to one or two, you could definitely reach out. Reach out, either it’d be at LinkedIn or if contact information is provided and say, “Hey, I didn’t get a chance to talk to you but I know you were at the event and I’d love to learn more, pick your brain for like 15 minutes.” So, I think if you see anyone that’s invested in being at an event just because you didn’t have the time to talk to them or maybe your conversation was really brief. The fact they’re at an event means they wanted to be out and they’re meeting people. So, feel free to follow up after even if you didn’t have a super in-depth conversation.
One of the things that I really admired about EY versus some of the other big four accounting firms is that for every single EY event, of course, you were there but you also brought the entire clan of EY professionals. I mean, there were so many people ranging from people who just started at the company, interns, people who just started as well as partners and MBs. I remember that at one event whether it’s some organization or campus wide event, I would speak with probably 10 or more EY professionals. I remember a really good tip that I learned at these events is that if you were to get a business card after you speak with that person, flip the card around and write some quick notes about some more interesting things and unique things you spoke about because after the hour, two-hour event is over and you’re sending those follow up emails, you’re trying to think, ‘Wow, was it Greg who I spoke about football with or was it Samantha?’ I think even in a virtual setting, of course, we’re not clocking business cards but maybe just taking some notes though of what you spoke about because if you put yourself in your shoes, you probably speak with 50 to 100 people per event and you’re like who is who and what I spoke with, right? So, it’s important to really tailor those follow up emails.
Greg: Yeah, absolutely. And then it goes back to how they’re going to update LinkedIn because that also helps the professional too that they probably meet like 20, 30 people at an event and so they can go back and say, “Oh, I remember speaking with him and we talked about football.”
And I think that we were talking about some events with Zoom organizations. I think a lot of students think that recruiting is just done through campus wide recruiting events. I remember for me; I don’t think I really ever went to a campus wide recruiting event because there are these what I call behind the scenes recruiting events where EY would come in for a certain organization and just speak to those 20 or 30 members. I’m curious to know in your mind, do you think recruiting events with school organizations are critical to meet people on a more one-on-one scale?
Greg: I think it’s important to definitely go to any and all events that you want to. What’s important to keep in mind is that there’s no silver bullet. It’s not going to something where you’ll get exclusive access or get a leg up necessarily. I think smaller events are always great because you just have more time to have more in-depth conversations but still going to something like Meet the Firms can be equally important. And so, yeah, I think there’s so many different events. Students are so busy that sometimes it doesn’t work or you only got to go to one and you wanted to go to the four others and that’s totally fine. There’s no requirement. We’re just out there because we want to meet you and tell you a little more about EY or our companies. So, I think definitely investing in what you can manage and go to is really important. To your point, some of the smaller events are just nicer because you can have small or more in-depth conversations and there’s not these lines and stuff like that. But if the only thing that works is the career fair, still go to it. It’s worth it, I think. Anytime that you can meet people.
Basically, what you were saying was that if you can make it to a certain student organization’s events, that’s fine, they are campus wide. Also, just know that there are smaller events that are a little bit more tailored to maybe a certain niche or interest that you probably will get more one-on-one time with a recruiter or with the professional versus the campus wide events usually tend to bring in the masses.
Greg: Yeah, exactly. And then just seeing the opportunity in every event. I know sometimes we do a ton of stuff, we serve a lot of clients. So, just know the bigger the company, you can’t just always guarantee that there’s going to be that one person out of the 2,000–person LA Office is going to be there to talk to you about our sustainable and energy project that we have. So, just being open. Again, the idea of, ‘Okay. Well, maybe I want these types of clients when I want to work in this field, and there’s people from other fields,” but you can still learn a lot. Again, we’re not usually there to talk about the nitty gritty day-to-day what we do. We’re there to talk about our culture, our work style, how we collaborate and you can learn that from anyone that works with the company.
Getting Involved in Student Organizations
Definitely! On the topic of student organizations, what impact does being involved on campus have when shaping someone’s application compared to someone who’s not as involved on campus?
Greg: I think being involved is important. It’s funny, because again, being a former admissions officer, I have the exact same conversation but with high school students it’s not about checking boxes. So, you don’t have to be involved in anything. It’s more about what you’ve got out of being involved. It’s the soft skills that are so important. And so, again, if you have on your resume, if you can’t talk about how you led a certain initiative with your organization or how you spoke in front of the organization, really built up your communication skills then it really doesn’t serve the purpose of participating and having everything in your resume.
So, just keep in mind that it’s not just being a part of an organization and it doesn’t have to be a specific one. We don’t have any requirements. If we did, we’d put it on our job description. It’s more about how that’s going to help you talk about how you develop soft skills working with people because that’s such a huge component of what we do. So, make sure that you’re in it for the right reasons. They are important. I think they’re great both professional and social outlets. We don’t have to be involved in 30. Maybe you’re just so involved at one but you’re just doing great and holding leadership positions and really driving the student org.
It’s not just checking boxes or being involved in a ton of things but being involved in fewer things but growing within the organization. Not everyone I think is suited or is interested in being a president or a VP, but being on the board and being a little bit more than a member. So, when someone like Greg asks you what do you do at this organization? It’s not just me who showed up.
I think that’s a great point as well. I remember when I was interviewing for a lot of different companies. A big talking point was the extra-curricular involvement on campus. I remember in the beginning; it was more so I just showed up because I was in a lot of organizations. But towards the end, I realized that you can’t talk about being a member. If you can talk about being a president, a founder, VP, a director or something more because the soft skills are made through those engagements versus just showing up to the events.
Greg: Yeah. Going even further, the title doesn’t make a leader, it’s what you did with it. So, you have to be able to talk about what you actually did, when you did it and your motivation and impact is important too.
How to be a Great Fit at EY
I think the hardest question people have to understand when they say, “Yes, I want to pursue an accounting firm like EY,” is why EY specifically. So, on top of the culture, what types of characteristics or traits are you looking for when you’re sourcing and searching for talent that you see from a far and say, “That person would be a great fit at EY.”
Greg: First, it starts with just understanding the positions we have and the qualifications and a little bit of research. I have plenty of students who figured that out. Obviously, if you want to be an auditor or tax, we look for CPA eligible students. For consulting or strategy, we look for different natures but definitely want to focus on specific things like critical thinking, problem solving majors like engineering or business or finance. So, there’s some basic requirements, I think. But what we then really just try to identify is people that really have those kinds of soft skills and that really come through on the resume, that definitely entices to ask more questions about like being either a leader or really driving something either in a student organization or maybe it was a project, maybe you led a really cool data and analytics project in your accounting class. You have that on your resume.
So, those types of things that spark more questions are always great. That shows us things that we look for, which ultimately that’s what we’re trying to do like picture you on our teams like a future state. So, do you have that kind of innovative thinking mindset? Are you involved? Are you a team player? Are you a leader? All those things are important. It’s hard, I get it. There’s no silver bullet. There’s no way to just check all the boxes and you’re a perfect EY candidate, but one way is just with peers and when you start talking to professionals, “Oh, what’s important for you when a staff member wants to out-turn an intern?” What kind of skills are important there? I think you’ll start to figure out what we look for as a firm as you start to talk to more people. There’s not one perfect response but we do focus a lot again on the soft skills. And then obviously, demonstrated success in your academics is important. We don’t need a 4.0. My goodness, even I didn’t get a 4.0 in college so perfect grades are definitely not what we’re looking for. We were looking for someone that’s definitely well-rounded, trying and doing really well academically but also again, involved in really developing as a person during college.
Over your 12 years of sourcing top talent, both for university as well as a company like EY, can you share any memorable stories either some great stories or some not so great stories of people, candidates who have made noise and been a little bit more creative with their outreach?
Greg: Yeah. When I’m thinking back on this, a few candidates that really stood out, I think of those that have attended like come to an event or even virtually like through LinkedIn and have really gotten to know our professionals. This, again, isn’t the perfect thing. Not everyone is just coming to me necessarily but I saw in particular one candidate really get to know a professional and almost came to me with almost a recap of just showed me how invested. I kind of alluded to this earlier but they came to me almost at the end. It was like I came to these events. I got to know more about your internal auditing methodology. I got to know more about the clients by talking to Samantha over here. I really got to know more about the professional networks because I actually got out for coffee with Joe over here. So, it was just amazing too for them to come to me and be like, “Look at all the in-depth work that I did in getting to know your company and getting to know your people.” As opposed to starting with me and being like, “I don’t knock anyone for dame.” This is especially true if you’re young and this is one of your first events, but when they come up to me and they’re like, “Tell me more about EY.” I’m like, “I’m literally the first person to talk to about EY. Okay. Well, let’s start from the beginning, we’re an accounting firm.” So, I appreciate that one. The recruiter isn’t necessarily the first or your entry level to the firm, but instead along the journey or even at the end of just looking at all that I’ve invested in and doing. So, I think that definitely stood out for me. So, really seeing someone take serious recruiting, getting to know our people and then just showing me and to no surprise on the backend, these professionals were seeing the same thing. “Oh, I got to know this person. Really cool, they followed up with me and had coffee.” So, I can just really tell this is someone that was really invested in recruiting and getting to know us.
So, showing that you care and going to multiple events if you can. Again, it’s not just going to the last event before the application deadline but trying to start, obviously not everyone can do this but if you’re in this position starting as early as possible and then as you grow within your school and go from a sophomore and a junior, let’s say and you’re eligible for another position that you’ve been able to nurture these relationships over the years. Someone like Greg would notice, ‘Oh, your name makes a loud noise in our firm because we know who you are and it’s not just me but multiple professionals.”
Greg: Exactly! Everyone’s journey is different. Definitely the earlier, the better but we recruit our graduate programs directly full-time and that recruiting window is sometimes only like a few weeks, a month. But still, I see those graduate students, those Master of Accountancy students, really go to the event and invest in the process, invest in getting to know us and our professionals. It shows, I think, definitely.
I agree with you that I can only imagine as a recruiter and you speak to so many students, you get so many questions but every time you get a question that in my opinion, you can just Google it or if it’s in a pamphlet or it’s in a sticker right here on our table, don’t ask me. Because you’re wasting not just your time but the students’ time to make a good impression. So, what kind of questions should they be asking? I guess, the conversation should be more so about them sharing their story or asking good insightful questions to you or a professional about the company or what they do there?
Greg: I think almost kind of how we’re going back and forth now is a great example of asking a question, letting someone respond, and then you both recapping and adding your personal outlook on what they just responded. It shows that you’re actively listening and it helps tie to them. But again, it’s sometimes a lot when someone comes right up to you and just starts giving you their life story, and I’m like, “Okay. Wait, what?” So, it’s a good balance. As far as the type of questions, it is hard. I agree with you. Again, I don’t duck anyone for asking. I’m trying to be pretty friendly and if people are nervous then that’s the only question you have, that’s okay, you can ask that. There are those questions that are just so broad like tell me about EY. There’s a lot to talk about. There are sometimes too specific questions like asking someone very specifically about a very niche thing that happens at the firm that this person quite honestly may have no involvement or sometimes I haven’t even heard of. I was like, “Oh, I didn’t even know we did that.”
So, you have to find a middle ground of something that isn’t just on the website but isn’t so specific that you think this person would have information on. So, like our professional networks. We have a number of professional networks and even if this person isn’t involved in the specific one, you’re interested or any of them, it’s something that everyone in EY knows and that this person can talk about. Definitely, our investment and technology, you don’t want to ask too specific about actual platforms that we’re using. Although if you’re a tech nerd and you really want to go down that path, you can. But I think you can talk a little bit about what types of technologies have helped you do your job. How does that really influence? Has it changed your job in the last 3, 6 months? So, there’s like a middle ground you want to find and then going back to what I struggle with, you want to ask questions and definitely reflect on what the response was but don’t just rattle off to one question. Show that you’re listening by responding with your insight and your take on what the person just said.
I’m sure it does get irritating when people do ask pretty simple and broad questions that a candidate should have researched. Does that happen a lot both in person and at virtual recruiting events where people ask you, “What do you do at EY? What is EY? What are your service lines?” And you’re just like, “It’s right there.”
Greg: It doesn’t bother me. I think it shows us where you’re at in the process. So, all it tells me is that, “Oh, you are literally just starting.” Okay. Well, I’ll try to respond and then definitely encourage you to go and meet some more people so we can start to educate you more on our people and our culture and stuff like that as opposed to someone that comes again that I could clearly tell they’ve been talking to people because they’re already ratting off maybe some of our–you don’t have to know all of our terminology but there are key things. I’m like, “Oh, this is someone that has clearly talked to someone from EY. He clearly knows what we’re about.” Yeah, to be honest, that’s probably going to be a bit more engaging of a conversation then to your point of like, “Oh, tell me about EY.” I’m like, ‘Okay. Well, I’ll tell you what I know and then continue on the process. Continue to educate yourself.’ So, it definitely doesn’t bother me but it does show me where you are in the process of learning more about us.
But I think the biggest thing is that we’re especially going to a recruiting event, like a Meet the Firms event, that has multiple companies. First of all, know what industry it is. Let’s say it’s for accounting but then also know what differentiates EY versus the other big four firms and then the boutique firms as well as what are the different service lines, who’s going to be there. I mean, there is so much information that is so public, especially now on LinkedIn. You can just find instantly who the recruiter is for a specific service line.
I agree with you that it’s not anything bad but it’s just you’re doing yourself a disservice by not asking very good insightful questions because I’m sure, and maybe you agree with me on this, that if I were to ask you a very simple generic question that many people ask, you’re not going to remember me or my name versus the next person who comes in and ask you a question that you’ve never heard and you said, “Wow, I’ve never been asked that question. You hit out of the park. What was your name again? Okay. I’ll remember that.” So, it’s not even bad but you’re not getting any bonus points in making your name well heard at the firm.
Greg: Yeah. You did bring up also a good point, which is if you are curious. If it is your first event, you’re like, “I haven’t had the chance to talk to anyone. How do I ask these insightful questions?” I think now more than ever, I think we are always in this. But now, our leaders and people at EY, in particular and I think many companies are publishing a lot more stuff on LinkedIn and other different platforms but definitely LinkedIn. Follow the company’s pages and see the voices that are coming from there whether it’s the CEOs or just the leaders in the firm or what they’re posting about what’s important to us because if they’re putting it on LinkedIn, this is probably is in a big shop, it’s also getting disseminated internally through us, through webcast and things like that. So, if it’s something public that our CEO is talking about, we probably are also. It’s something that is on the top of our minds.
Misconceptions from Candidates
Really, it doesn’t take that much time to read that extra article that someone posted or follow the EY company LinkedIn account. I agree with you that doing something a little bit more than the next candidate and being able to talk about it and show that you care and your name will be both heard. So, I totally agree. That’s an excellent point in terms of advice for students. I’m curious to know, I know earlier on in our conversation; you spoke about some misconceptions. Do you mind elaborating on those misconceptions, what they are and how students can improve on them?
Greg: Yeah. I think one misconception is that it’s a competition. If it’s a smaller firm, it truly might be like one spot they’re trying to fill. But even then, I think it’s just not the right approach to go to a let’s say USC event and say, “There are 30 spots for you and I need one of those spots.” It doesn’t work that way. We are really trying to identify great talent and when we find a great talent like we want to hire people. It is a competitive process, of course, that’s not to say and I don’t necessarily see this up, but I wouldn’t have anyone approach it as a competition. You’re not competing with other people for a spot. You are trying to find a good fit. We are also trying to find that fit with the candidate. So, I think there is a misconception that there’s how many spots do you have for USC students or how many spots do you have here? We do of course have hiring goals. I mean, smaller companies may only have a few actual positions they’re trying to fill but you’re not competing with five other people for this one spot necessarily, at least in campus recruiting and at least in the process that we follow. I think most of the big companies are that way too.
Approach it like you’re trying to find a fit, you’re networking, you’re trying to find a good fit with your cultural and professional aspirations and then the company is trying to do the same thing, find great talent for their firm. I think the other misconception is just that professional–I don’t know if it’s a misconception but people get nervous and they’re like, “Oh, you’re trying to weed people out.” That’s just not the case. I think we talked about this earlier. If a company is investing enough into having a recruiter like me be out there and have our professionals take time away from client work to go out to events and to interview people, it’s because we want to meet you. So, if there are nerves or you’re like, “I don’t think they really want to talk to me.” It’s like, “No. If we’re there, we’re there for a reason. That’s to meet and talk to the students.” So, I always tell students to just take a breath and just remember you’re the star. We’re here to meet you. We’re excited to meet you. So, hopefully that can calm some people’s nerves when they’re approaching me and even people virtually too. So, again, if they are at a virtual event, they didn’t get a chance to have a full two, three-minute conversation with them but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out and follow up.
I love that mindset. I agree that going in especially when you’re younger and at a university, you often think that it’s me versus the school, the world. There is one spot out of so many talented people. Of course, we would like to say it wasn’t a competitive process. That being said, I think a better mindset like you said is not to think of it as a competitive process amongst other people. You have some leverage in the process. It’s not just like these companies like EY have all the leverage and they just have all the same. Same as in an interview. When you’re interviewing the interviewer, just like they’re interviewing you.
So, seeing where is your best fit but also, I would say thinking about yourself and your application and recruitment journey, it’s more so if you do everything right and you research the firm and you go out of your way to make good conversations and you spend a little bit extra time on those tailored follow-up emails to create lasting relationships and in six months, you update Greg on what you’ve been doing in the advice he gave you. If you do everything extra, above other people, I think that you’ll be able to land opportunities like an opportunity at EY because you’re really competing in my opinion with yourself. You have to hold a high standard. I think that when you leave an interview, you might even know if you got it or not based on how well the conversation went and if you were able to bond with that person. So, I agree with you that don’t think of it as a competition amongst other people but just focus on yourself and what you’re doing, your story, your journey and really grow from there and see out of all these companies, who’s the best fit for you not vice versa.
Greg: Yeah, exactly. Fast forward, if you unfortunately don’t get the position, that’s still the mindset you kind of have to keep. It’s like, “I didn’t blow it. It’s not like they don’t like me. I’m a bad person.” It’s a fit thing, right? I always say, don’t be discouraged. If you didn’t get the internship, still apply for full-time because to your point, there’s opportunities to grow, to develop more. Maybe you won’t come in as a campus candidate but two years later we’ll see you as an experienced hire. So, definitely don’t get discouraged as to liking a win or loss to that position but again, to your point, approach it as if you’re just trying to find a good fit for everyone.
Definitely! I think with rejection, I mean, I’m proud to say that I was rejected from a number of companies both from first round and final round to getting offers both for internships and full-time jobs and I think that looking back on my recruiting journey and some of my mentors that I’ve made, some of my strongest relationships I’ve developed were with the interviewers that I had and then I got rejected because not that many people reach out and not that many people follow up with that process and thankfully I was able to. If that internship didn’t go my way, well full-time comes and you’re able to take their advice to heart and actually act on it. So, I agree with you that it’s not just about you applying to one company, you get the offer, you’re set and you’re good to go. If you do get rejected, it’s okay. It’s going to happen. But act on their feedback and continue those relationships.
So, the last question we have today for you, Greg, it’s a tradition on the Final Round podcast show is what is the best piece of advice you can give to our audience to help them get past the final round interview and land the job offer?
Greg: I think the best piece of advice is to definitely be authentic, not try to fake your way through the process. And especially when you get to the final round interviews, you have to be authentic with both your strengths, things that you’re trying to work on, what you’re going to bring to the company because that’s the whole point of an interview especially as a young professional. Of course, we have skills but you don’t have these 10 years of experience that you can just draw upon. You’re really just bringing your authentic self into that room and really talking about what you look forward to growing in, what you’re interested in. I think that shines outside of just trying to impress someone. Oftentimes, that can come off as either fake or just not authentic when you’re just trying to approach an interview like, “I need to just impress this person.” I think people will be impressed by an authentic person that comes in and can really talk about their goals and what they are there for and what they’re looking to get out of and talk to all the investment that they’ve done in the process of getting to know the people whether it’s attending events or looking on website or listening to the CEO’s podcast or whatever it might be. So, I think that authenticity comes through in an interview when people really invest in the process before and do all the things that we’ve talked about during our time together. So, yeah, I think bringing in your authentic self is the most important thing to do. Don’t try to impress, be authentic.
My favorite piece of advice was how to best navigate virtual recruiting events and the importance of getting involved on campus. If you find yourself overwhelmed at the university-wide recruiting events or career fairs, I cannot stress enough how you need to take advantage of the more exclusive, private recruiting events that happen frequently with student organizations. Trust me, you will be glad you joined and got involved. Thank you so much for listening today. I’m so lucky to have an incredible audience of students and professionals who want to advance their careers. If you enjoyed this episode, it would mean the world to me if you subscribed to the show and left a review on an Apple podcast. We’re almost at 50 reviews and we’re trying to get there by the end of the week so please help us out. Until the next episode of the Final Round podcast. Keep fighting and I will see you in the ring.