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Eleven ways to prepare for an accounting interview

Interview for your dream job

Accounting is a competitive and fast-growing field which is stiff as both experienced professionals, and college graduates apply to the jobs in demand. Your resume may make your potential employer want to meet with you and invite you for an interview, but it is the interview that will set you aside as a qualified applicant from the others.

The serves as your chance to express your brilliance to the prospective recruiters. You need to amaze the hiring manager. Hence, there are basic things you should know to achieve this feat. To help you excel, here are a bunch of handy guidelines that will provide you the confidence to secure a position and know-how on your chosen accounting field. Follow these eleven methods, and the interview will be a smooth ride for you.

  1. Do extensive research

Before you filled your application form and sent it off to the organization, you should have done some research into the accounting firm you intend to work with. It is a great idea to refresh your memory before the interview takes place and delve deep into the intricacies of the particular business field you are hoping to belong to. For example, if you are applying to a role that focuses on audits, you should understand the function and purpose of the audit department, and the things you expect to do within it.

Furthermore, you should build a better knowledge of the accounting firm in its values and culture. Making references to this research at some point in the interview certainly will give you an edge. Besides, you should keep up with the International Accounting Standards Board and Financial Accounting Standards Board, as well as regulatory changes and new tax laws. The interviewer may ask you timely questions to check if your knowledge about them is up-to-date.

If you research the company ahead of the interview date, it makes you more specific when explaining the attributes and skills that make you a perfect fit for the job. Referring specifically to events, departments, people and problems also your attention to detail that portrays a good accountant. If need be, take some accounting courses in your specific field to widen your knowledge.

  1. Demonstrate your value

What differentiates you from the other applicants? Perhaps you have several years of experience in the industries of your potential employer, or you are vast in the software skills they require. It could even be that you have great interpersonal skills and excellent communication prowess which will enable you to work with other departments more efficiently. Explore these unique qualities you possess and ensure you impress it upon the hirer during the interview.

Find something unique about you that is uncommon to the other candidates, and which the company will appreciate when you present it to them. Even if you can manage time effectively, let them know that you can always beat deadlines without compromising the quality of work. I found an article on Fastcompany which is very interesting.

  1. Know your application form & CV

Without any doubt, your interview will constitute questions relating directly to your application form and CV. Review these documents inside out beforehand. However, make sure that you do not just “copy and paste” what is in the application form while you answer the questions. What you wrote in it should only be a basis on which you expand, providing extra information and adding more insights.

The interviewer should not ask you to expound on something on your CV, and then you reiterate exactly what is on it. This attitude does not portray intelligence on your part because your CV cannot explain everything about yourself and what you are capable of. It is necessary that you prevent them from misinterpreting what is there and you can only tell by knowing your CV by heart. I have found some good examples of CV formats here on Standout.

  1.  First Impressions count

This may sound a little cliché, but first impressions always count; especially in the accounting sector, where you need to engage with customers regularly as part of your duties. Consequently, it is expedient for you to begin as you intend to go on, right from when you step into the interview ground. Turn up to the venue appropriately dressed, happy, confident and enthusiastic.

Greet everybody you meet with a smile and a warm handshake. They include the interviewers and other members of staff in the company, and your fellow interviewees, that if you were all invited in a group. Your interaction with them is being noticed, consciously or not, and your aura will be under scrutiny. After all, accounting depends on relationships, not just crunching of numbers.

  1. Be honest

You should be honest all the time. What’s more, let your personality reflect through the entire phase of the interview. Give the interviewers genuine reasons why you want to work for them, your purpose for choosing that exact firm, telling them precisely why you want to build your career as a part of the specific accounting stream you decided to apply for. I suggest you to read Topresume for some extra knowledge.

  1. Provide evidence

When you want to answer questions about your essential competencies, you should have documents of evidence to reinforce your suitability for that role. Do not just give instances from your time at the university, though; you should use other relevant cases from your work expected placements. Also, provide references for any voluntary services you have participated in and some other extracurricular activities.

You could also present a certificate of your participation in your accounting courses. Moreover, give precise examples, even at times, your interviewer does not require it. It makes more of an effect if you talk about the spreadsheets you created for your budget and taxes, for instance than for you to state that you have Excel skills.

  1. Request for clarification

If you do not wholly comprehend a question asked you, politely request the interviewer to clarify what he means. Never mind, you will not be penalized or marked down for doing so. Asking for more explanation on the question will direct your focus on the opinion of the answer you should give. This is better than rambling on out of context without fully understanding the issue you are asked.

Asking reasonable questions on what is asked shows that you are engaged, detail-oriented and thoughtful enough to pinpoint points of interest from the conversation. The interview is an opportunity for you to learn about your prospective employer. As much as they are interviewing you, you should also talk to them. Therefore, asking questions to help you decide if you want to work with the firm as well.

  1. Know the basics

As an applicant, you are expected to know the fundamentals of accounting courses in the particular field you are applying for. What distinguishes between accounts receivable and accounts payable? What are the methods of estimating bad debt? How can you reduce and check for errors when you work? These are just some questions which you should be able to give accurate answers when the interviewer asks to test your knowledge. Even if you know about all the courses in accounting, backward and forward, you should prepare for verbal responses too.

  1. Plan stories

Plan for accounts as you may need to tell an event about some time you solved a technical issue or had to deal with a disgruntled customer. The questions are designed to address your carefulness, communication, ability to remain calm under pressure, and other skills. Prepare a few stories you can tell so that you do not need to sustain an awkward silence while thinking.

  1. Be confident

If your resume or application form already demonstrates that you have the experience and educational background necessary for the job, you have little to worry about being incompetent. It is your opportunity to sell yourself, how valuable you will be to the organization and your assurance that you have everything it takes to stand out. You will do a better job expressing your intentions when you are relaxed and confident rather than when you are jittery and anxious. Your study of accounting courses already put you in a position of confidence about what you are saying.

  1. Arrive on time

There is this saying, “Punctuality is the sole of business.” This goes true for every field, especially accounting. Arriving at the venue in time, even before the time you were requested to does much in creating an excellent first impression. In accounting, the firm would expect you to demonstrate a meticulous precision to detail, and how accurate your work will be, can significantly affect a company’s bottom line.

Showing up late depicts the exact opposite, giving everyone the impression that you may not be serious about getting the job. Lateness reflects your personality and makes your hirers feel that you are a careless person that will take the accounts with levity. So, be ahead of the scheduled time. It gives you ample time to survey your environment, make acquaintances and get familiar with the situation.

By the time you are called in, your mind is already settled, and your brain is active enough to take on the interview process. The tension and anxiety you are likely to feel would have been minimal by then. Now you can plunge into the questions with a higher level of confidence.


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Emma London
Emma London is a columnist and member of the ​CEOWORLD magazine editorial board. She's one of the magazine's founding editors and leads global newsroom coverage and management. Having lived in five different countries — the United States, Canada, Australia, Spain, and the United Kingdom - Emma is obsessed with how tech empowers people from all walks of life. She is fluent in Spanish.
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