While your resume can get your foot in the door for an interview, it's the in-person conversation that will make or break you as a candidate for an accounting position.
Actively preparing for your interview, including practicing answers to common accounting interview questions, will help you make a great first impression on the hiring manager. Read on to learn more about five common accounting interview questions, and how to answer them.
1. Why do you want to be an accountant?
This is one of the most common accounting interview questions. This fairly standard interview question is a typical warm-up, since it's an opening that breaks the ice and allows the hiring manager to get to know you better. That doesn't mean, however, that it's a throwaway question.
You should answer thoughtfully by giving examples of things that happened in your life that led you to the accounting field. Were you the high school class treasurer? Did you save for months to buy your first car? Whatever the scenario, give the interviewer some background about yourself and your interest in accounting.
2. Do you possess any knowledge of accounting standards?
Even if you've never had a job in the field of accounting before, you should be prepared to answer this question with some knowledge of the International Finance Reporting Standards (IFRS).
The IFRS was previously known as the International Accounting Standards (IAS). While there are so many facets of IFRS that it would be impossible to be up to speed on all of them, prior to an interview you should do some research on the most recent changes to these standards and be prepared to discuss them.
3. How do you minimize the risk for errors in your work?
As an accountant, you'll be held to a very high standard of excellence, because even the smallest errors can lead to big financial issues. And, if you're interviewing for a role in the audit department, your ability to catch errors can save the company large sums of money.
With accounting interview questions like this one, it's important to discuss the importance of checking your work several times and establishing a system of checks and balances.
It's extra helpful if you can provide a real example of a time where you caught an error through double-checking, or through another method.
4. Describe a time when you've helped reduce costs.
This can be one of the more challenging accounting interview questions, especially if you've never held an accounting job before. While some accountants stick strictly to the duties and responsibilities of their job, others go above and beyond by making suggestions to management and identifying areas where money can be saved.
By describing a scenario from your coursework, an internship, or a previous job, you can show the hiring manager that you're willing to go the extra mile, and that you're a team player. You can also show the hiring manager that your priorities are aligned with the company's goals.
5. Where do you see yourself in five years?
A common question in all industries, this accounting interview question gives you the chance to show off your foresight and ambition. Your answer should be both modest and truthful, highlighting the things that you hope to learn from a position with the organization you're interviewing with while displaying a solid plan for your short term career trajectory.
In addition, be prepared to talk about whether or not you have a master's degree related to accounting, and if you plan to go back to graduate school. You should also be prepared to share whether or not you plan to earn your CPA (Certified Public Accountant license). Preparing for and passing the multiple exams leading up to the CPA are a large commitment, but can be a benefit to the company and to the hiring manager.
The one thing to keep in mind with this question is that you don't want to show a disinterest in the position you're interviewing for. In other words, don't show that you're simply interviewing for the job to gain experience today . . . so you can take the boss' job in the future. The hiring manager wants someone with ambition, but also someone with genuine interest in the position at hand.
By preparing for these accounting interview questions, you will increase your chance of getting a job in the field of accounting, even if you're a new graduate. It may be helpful to practice answers to these accounting interview questions with friends or family members before you land your first accounting interview.
And for more valuable interview advice, visit LiveCareer's Interview Questions page. Also, consider putting our Resume Builder to use when it comes to customize your resume to the specificities of other accounting job advertisements!
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