Accounting job interviews are demanding. In many respects this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
After all the decision to employ someone in an accounting role is a significant investment for the business.
I’ve been interviewing accountants for roles for over 25 years.
The standard is at best average. Yes some are excellent in job interviews. Many however struggle.
The good news is that by being ready for the common questions, you can perform so much better in the job interview.
What are 20 questions accountants need to be ready for in a job interview?
Tell me about your career
This is a classic opening question. It’s also one that many struggle to answer.Don’t just regurgitate what is on your CV or application form.
Instead focus on your career in terms of relevance to the role you are interviewing for.
What do you know about our organisation?
Another classic question. A bit of research online will make sure you can answer this one with confidence.
What are the key challenges facing our organisation?
If you are interviewing for an accounting role that’s beyond a purely technical role, you will be expected to be able to demonstrate an awareness of the organisational challenges.
Who do you see as our key competitors?
You may know and you may not know exactly who are key competitors. Ideally you can name specific competitors.
Even if you can’t name direct competitors being able to name similar organisations will show you have done your preparation.
How is our sector or industry changing?
This is the type of question that lets an employer know if you are someone who is great on the detail or someone who looks more widely.
Give me an overview of our financial performance
You have downloaded and reviewed the last few years accounts, haven’t you?
It would be hugely embarrassing if you hadn’t and couldn’t answer this question.
Tell about your top technical skills
What areas of accounting are you really good at. If you don’t know take time to find out.
Remember you don’t want a list of 20, you want to talk about your top 5 to 7.
Tell me about your IT skills
With greater automation and businesses keen to utilise technology, being able to talk about your IT and digital skills is important.
How will technological advances impact on the accounting profession?
It also allows the interviewer to see if you can talk rationally and confidently about an area many see as a threat.
What’s the difference between cash and profit?
A really basic question, right? It’s one that I have seen many candidates struggle with.
Most think it’s too basic a question so don’t prepare themselves for it.
How would you approach?
A common question to ask is how you would approach some aspects of the job that is significant.
It could be budget setting, annual accounts, business planning, a system implementation to name just a few.
What have you achieved in your career so far?
Every candidate being interviewed can more than likely do a technically competent job.
The successful candidate will be able to talk about achievement and contribution.
Tell me about a difficult client relationship
Everyone in Finance in organisations whatever level has internal clients.
The vast majority of client relationships will run smoothly. A few won’t.
The goal here is to talk about the difficult relationship and how you improved it.
Tell me about a time when you positively influenced
A great question for those in roles who are going to be working closely with others across the business.
Why are you interested in working for us?
You are probably looking at different organisations.
What is about this one that really interests you?
Why are you interested in the role?
Again you may be looking at the various roles.
You do however need to be able to state your reasons why you are interested in this specific role.
What would you bring to the team?
When answering this one, the more specific you can be the better.
Taking time to really understand the role and the factors critical to success will help you answer this well.
How would your colleagues describe you?
This question is all about testing your self awareness.
Again try to be specific with your answer.
What’s the risk in appointing you?
This is a potential trick question, especially if not ready for it. There are always risks with any appointment.
Your job as the candidate is to minimise any risk in the mind of those interviewing you.
Why are you the ideal candidate?
The poorly prepared candidate will struggle with this.
The well prepared candidate will give a confident answer that’s really focused on the role they are interviewing for.
The Bottom Line
There are plenty of questions you could be asked. The more you are prepared for, the better you are going to do in job interviews.