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Do you want more expert hints & tips on finding work offshore? Whether or not you are an accountant, this guide will tell you everything you need to know.

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Interview guidance

We often get asked about the typical interview process, given that we recruit internationally on behalf of firms located in Caribbean or other overseas locations. In an ideal world all interviews would be carried out in-person. As you can appreciate, however, this is not always a realistic option.

On our recommendation you will normally have an initial telephone interview with a member of your prospective employer's Human Resources department. If this goes well then you will be invited for a second -and usually final- interview. This job interview will normally be with the Manager or Partner to whom you will be reporting.

Your second interview may be conducted either in person (either they will fly out from the Island to meet you, you will fly out to meet them, or they will arrange for you to be interviewed by somebody at an overseas branch of their firm that is more local to you). Most commonly, the interview will be done via Skype/video or telephone. 

Many companies make a decision very quickly (exceptionally even during the interview itself) as to whether you are to be made a job offer. This is in part because, even once an offer of employment has been offered and accepted, a work permit still has to be obtained and this can take up to two months to be processed.

Successful interview technique

  • You must be prepared. Job interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience. But the better prepared you are, the more likely you will make a good impression on a potential employer
  • Do your research. Every organisation is different so do as much research as you can beforehand. Many companies have websites so check the Internet as a starting point. You will also need to find out about the Island where they are based. When you walk into an interview knowledgeable about the company, the role and recent news in that industry, you show the hiring manager that you value their time and also that you are ready to be part of their organisation
  • Put yourself in their shoes. Employers are looking for a motivated, well-informed, versatile and friendly professional who will be a 'safe pair of hands' and get the job done. It's a big investment for them to pay for a new hire's air fare, relocation, work permit, initial free accommodation and training - they need to know that you've got what it takes to make a success of the move
  • Test your Skype set-up before the interview to make sure it works properly and that you are familiar with how to use it smoothly. Also, do ensure that the lighting is fine and that you look as polished as possible in the call. It does make a difference (we had someone else fail in the past for precisely these reasons)
  • First impressions count and what you wear and how you act are as important as your experience and skills. It is therefore important to be smart and well-groomed whatever position you are applying for. Even if most of a company’s staff are ‘smart casual’, do not assume that this will be acceptable for the preliminary interview when you will be seeking to make a positive first impression. Wear a suit in conservative colours (grey or blue are good)
  • Arrive on time. Looking the part will count for nothing if you are late for the interview. Aim to arrive up to an hour early – you can never be sure what might happen on your journey there. Work out your route beforehand
  • Stay in touch. Make sure you have a mobile phone and the employers contact number so you can call if there are any problems in finding the interview location (but switch it off for the actual interview)
  • Your body language can influence the employer’s decision as well. Don’t fidget or make too many long gestures and always look your interviewer in the eye, without appearing too confrontational
  • During the interview, concentrate on talking about the skills and experience you can bring to the job and the difference you can make to the organisation
  • Ask questions about the role, the company and the Island – and you need to show you are enthusiastic and keen to learn new skills. Insightful questions help both of you determine if your relationship will be mutually rewarding. And the better you understand the opportunity and life on the Island, the more you will be able to fully communicate your interest
  • Be positive. Do not make derogatory remarks about your current or previous employers. When explaining your reason for leaving, limit your comments to those necessary to adequately communicate your rationale
  • Avoid talking about your personal life too much and, whilst it is important to appear confident, do not be arrogant. Also, exercise caution if you are tempted to crack jokes or make controversial statements 
  • Practice makes perfect. Unwelcome nerves can rear their head in a job interview so help calm them ahead of time by practising
  • Don't enquire about salary, vacations or bonuses at the first interview stage unless you are very sure that the company is interested in hiring you. If the interviewer asks what salary you want, indicate your current salary or expectations (based on Hamilton Recruitment's advice) but that you're more interested in the opportunity than in a specific salary
  • If you are interested in the job, let the interviewer know! And if during the meeting or telephone interview you have answered these two questions successfully 'Why are you interested in working for us on this Island?' and "Why should we give the job to you and not someone else?' then you have done all you can at this stage 

An introduction to financial services

Unless you are claiming prior financial services experience, your prospective future employer will not expect you to have expertise in this area. However, it can only help to have an insight into the relevant financial services sector so we recommend you read one of the following primers, as applicable.

Insurance  Funds 

What to do after the interview

  • A classy touch is to send the interviewer a Thank You email afterwards. This will be positively received and will keep you at the forefront of their mind whilst they are assessing all the applicants for the position
  • Feedback times vary, of course, but note that some employers may decide to make an offer within just a few days of the interview if they like you. This is not uncommon and is because of the forced time delay after the offer has been accepted involved in them getting you the work permit (i.e. assuming they need staff sooner rather than later, the employer is looking to minimise the overall recruitment time cycle)
  • And finally, there's no substitute for some old fashioned good luck!

About job offers

Please note that any offer of employment made will, at a minimum, be conditional on approval from the offshore Immigration authorities, obtaining a work permit and good professional and personal references.

Note also that, on occasion, offshore employers may request a passport-style photograph as part of their standard procedures: it always helps to put a face to a name or a voice on a telephone interview, and it helps as an aide memoire later in the decision-making process.

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