This blog post was written by The Accountancy Partnership who have provided great insight into the types of questions you would be asked at an accounting interview and advice on how to give great answers. The more prepared you are, the less scary it will be!
No matter what industry you’re in, the key to job interview success is great preparation. It doesn’t matter how shiny your shoes are, or how many times you practice your most assertive handshake, if you aren’t well-prepped, you can’t possibly give it your best shot.
Here, we dissect some common accounting job interview questions you might face, as well as sharing some tips on how to answer them.
What questions will be asked in an accounting job interview?
It’s pretty safe to assume that you’ll cover some of the usual suspects like, “what are your greatest strengths?” one way or another, so it pays to be prepared for those.
However, with specialist roles like accounting, there will also be some specific questions you should be ready to answer.
“What accountancy software are you familiar with?”
There are so many tools and applications out there these days that nobody could possibly expect you to know them all, so don’t panic!
When we ask candidates this sort of question, we’re not just trying to get a feel for how much training they might need. We’re also looking for how much industry knowledge and awareness you might already have, even if it’s not direct experience.
Our advice: Be able to confidently reel off the accounting software you’re familiar with and be ready to provide an example of how you used it. Offer something about your favourite software and why you find it to be so beneficial.
Bonus points if you can find out what software the firm uses and share your experiences with using that. If you haven’t got any experience with any of particular tools, do your research of what’s on the market these days, so you can demonstrate some level of understanding.
“What measures do you take to reduce error and ensure accuracy?”
Roles in the world of finance and accounting rely on accuracy – it’s the nature of the beast. An interviewer in this industry will be keen to see how you go about mitigating the risk of mistakes as much as possible.
Our advice: Give a real-life example of measures you’ve taken to limit error when completing a task, whatever task that might have been. Talk the interviewer through your process and any tools you used for support.
They’ll be looking for you to prove that you understand the importance of accuracy and that you’re eagle-eyed and hot on the trail of any hiccups.
It’s also ok to give examples of times when you weren’t on the ball, as long as you use these to demonstrate what you learned from the experience.
“Can you tell us about a time you demonstrated outstanding client services?”
As well as good logic, numerical, and software skills, most accountancy roles require great people skills. If the role you’re interviewing for is a customer-facing role, where you’ll be in regular contact with clients, the interviewer will want to know how you conduct yourself in these scenarios.
Our advice: Share a real example of a time when you went above and beyond for a customer in order to give them the best possible service. Also think of a time when you’ve had to deal with a tricky customer and explain to the interviewer how you tackled the challenges.
“How do you deal with deadline pressure?”
Deadlines are a huge part of any accounting role and time management is a must-have skill for all candidates applying for roles in the industry. The interviewer is going to want to know that you understand this, and how you deal with this sort of pressure.
Our advice: Talk the interviewer through your working process and the measures you take to ensure that deadlines are always met day-to-day. To consolidate, follow up with a real example of when you were faced with a particularly tight deadline, and how you prioritised and performed under pressure.
And yes, if these are skills that you learned whilst sobbing on the floor of the library at 3am, that’s ok too – skills are skills.
“Why do you want to work for this firm in particular?”
This is usually the moment we all think ‘because I want to pay my bills’. Recruiters ask this question because they want to see how well you and the business match up. What interests do you have that align with what you know about the business? What are your plans for the future, and what is it about this role that can help you work towards those?
Our advice: Do some research into the company itself, and the people in it. Read up on its mission, values, and culture, its clients and its achievements. Demonstrate why you resonate with all of this, how you align with the company, and why you want to be involved.
That said, the best person to steer on how to answer this question is really yourself. Only you know why you want to work for a particular firm so much. Dig deep and give an answer that is authentic and genuine.
Hopefully, you’re now feeling more confident and clued-up ahead of your next job interview. Now all that’s left to do is to go out there and smash it. Best of luck!