Accounting jobs are highly competitive. The average open position receives anywhere from 20 to 200 applicants, and each one often has a similar background and education. If you were selected to an accounting job interview, this means that your resume was better than 95% of the other applicants. You should feel proud that you got this far.
But the process is not over yet. You still have to complete the job interview process, and prove that you are a better choice than the few candidates that remain.
How to Beat the Accounting Interview
Preparation is going to be the key to success at an accountant interview. It’s critical that you take the time to practice common interview questions for accounting jobs, hold mock interviews, read up on interview strategy, and more.
In this article, we’ve compiled several tips and tools related specifically to jobs in accounting and bookkeeping. This will help you impress the employer, prepare for the interview, and make sure that you put yourself in the best position to get the job.
Common Accounting Interview Questions
The following are several questions from accounting job interviews that you should prepare to answer.
However, keep in mind that all interviews are different. Throughout Everyday Interview Tips, we have explored hundreds of common interview questions. We encourage you to read throughout site and see if you can practice not only answering those questions, but also envisioning what your employer may ask you at the interview.
Some common accountant interview questions include:
- What made you decide to pursue a career in accounting?
- Tell me about a time you found a discrepancy that would save the company money.
- Do you consider yourself up to date in the latest tax laws?
- What types of accounting software programs are you most familiar with?
- Have you ever been asked to fudge numbers in order to get better results?
- Are you willing to compromise your integrity if it would benefit the company?
- Have you ever found an error that would cost the company money? What did you do?
- Tell me about a time you tried to improve an accounting process.
- How well do you handle the pressure of deadlines? Can you give me an example?
- Describe a time when you had to explain a complex accounting strategy to someone without an accountant background.
These are only some of the many accountant job interview questions that you may be facing. Make sure you also review the job description, play close attention to the company history, and more, to get a better idea of what you may be asked. See also this list of 15 other accountant interview questions.
Tips to Succeed at the Accounting Job Interview
It is important to prepare for the accounting job interview questions. But that is only the first step. You will also want to make sure that you are ready for the interview as a whole, and all that entails.
The following are several accountant specific interview tips, and don’t forget to review EIT for broader interview tips and strategies:
- Come Prepared – If you think you have a portfolio, including charts, graphs, paperwork, etc., that could assist you in getting the position, make sure you bring it to the interview. Have it professional bound, consider copies for each potential interviewee, and be ready to defend your work if required.
- Know Your Answers – This may be repetitive, given the section above, but it is worth mentioning again. Some job interviews ask broad questions, like “what is your greatest weakness.” That is not the case at accounting interviews. Accountant interview questions and answers are almost always focused on achievements and tasks in your history. Have great answers ready, and practice as many common and uncommon accounting interview questions and answers as you can.
- Identify the Strengths – Pay attention to what the job entails most, and tailor your answers to fit that job. Are you auditing? Managing accounts? Budgeting? Projecting? Providing analysis? Whatever the main functions of the job will be, that needs to also be the focus of your interview answers.
- Be Numbers Based – Accounting is a numbers based job. But it’s also a job that should have specific numerical achievements. For example, “I found a discrepancy that saved the company money” is far less impressive than “I found a discrepancy that saved the company $100,000.” Try to integrate specific numbers, even if it is the amount of data you entered.
- Have Proof of Planning – Similarly, accounting jobs require an eye for detail and a strict commitment to planning and organization. Ideally, come prepared with answers that show that you have this quality. Even if you do not receive any organization based questions at your accounting interview, it helps to integrate examples that show you’re an organized, efficient worker.
You should also be prepared for the type of workplace. Most accounting job interviewers want to see that their applicants are professional, because they are often in charge of money and sensitive financial data. Coming in a suit, or some type of equivalent, helps to ensure that you give off that sense of professionalism that is required for this type of position.
Plan, Practice, and Succeed at Your Job Interview
You will need to prove you have a specific skill set to succeed at the job interview – one that is tailored to the needs of accounting jobs. That’s something that your own experience and knowledge will provide. If you have an excellent grasp of the industry, your chances of succeeding at the job interview are much stronger, simply because you can answer technical questions with ease.
But there is more to being prepared for these interviews than simply having technical knowledge. To beat your competition, consider the above accounting interview tips as a starting point, and continue to practice answering interview questions often.