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11 Accountancy Interview Questions You Should Know

So, you’ve landed an interview for an accounting job. We’ve included 11 essential interview questions and how to answer them.

So, you’ve landed an interview for an accounting job. Now it’s time to focus on securing that job. This means you have to be well-prepared for any questions thrown your way. The difference between who lands the job and the candidates that don’t lie in the answers you give. As such, you have to be concise and comprehensive with your answers. While the interviewer may ask specific questions in the accounting field, a few general questions are always included to ensure that whoever the company hires is an all-around productive individual.

We’ve narrowed down the interview question to 11 of the most essential in this blog.

1. What accounting standards & applications are you aware of?

With this question, the interviewer aims to establish how many accounting applications you’re familiar with. For the standards, the interviewer wants to test your sector knowledge. To answer this question, try to confidently express the depth of your knowledge and flexibility to adapt to upcoming trends. In your response, mention standards such as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

In the case of applications, no interviewer expects you to know them all, but do mention any that showcase your breadth of knowledge and skill. The interviewer expects that you are acquainted with more than one accounting application. FreshBooks and NetSuite ERP are some of the best applications available currently. In addition, talk about those you prefer and why in terms that could benefit the company.

2. How have you helped reduce costs?

This question will give the interviewer an impression of the kind of employee you are. While some firms prefer employees who do everything by the book, others prefer the type to go above and beyond using their own knowledge and initiative.

The trick to getting this question right is to focus your answer on solutions that cut costs and increase revenue – no matter how small. For example, you could talk about a cost reduction program you implemented that worked efficiently. Alternatively, you could explain how you introduced electronic invoices to cut printing and postage expenses.

3. How have you helped a team become successful?

The accounting field, like any other, requires teamwork effort to achieve the set objectives. With this question, most people would think the interviewer asked for a time they led a team. However, it’s also digging into whether you’re a team player.

So, when answering, talk about situations where you were supportive of a team, such as how you led a project or any team motivation or building tactics. Describe how you influenced and steered the team and what success looked like. In addition, don’t be afraid to mention the skills you have in teamwork, such as cooperation, flexibility, and professionalism.

4. How do you ensure accuracy and reduce errors?

“Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.” – Wyatt Earp

In accounting, the margin of error is almost zero. High standards and accuracy are critical. A minor slip-up can cost the company a significant financial loss. As an accountant, you should be able to watch out for errors and correct them. To answer this question, talk about an instance when you noticed an error, especially one that could have cost the firm a substantial amount of money. Also, talk about how crucial it is to go through each piece of work you do with an eye for detail.

5. What environment do you flourish in?

In an interview, this question tests whether you fit the firm’s work environment or not. Different firms have a preference for the type of hire they want. Some may want the kind who works well independently, and others prefer team players. Background on the firm will help you know the hire they want. It is essential to understand how to work independently and as a team player. This way, you can fit in any environment you land in.

Review your strengths and weaknesses and bring them to the table in the interview. See what the company is looking for and match your answer to their criteria.

6. How do you deal with tight deadlines?

For any accountant, time management is a must-have skill. In a single year, an accountant faces many inflexible deadlines. If you’re asked this question during the interview, frame your answer to show how you have met deadlines while producing excellent results.

However, be careful not to exaggerate. Be realistic with your answers and elaborate on strategies that can help meet deadlines, e.g. delegate, hire temporary staff, etc.  Then give an example of a hard deadline you managed to meet and how you achieved that.

7. Why did you choose this firm?

This question is frequently asked in interviews and may seem like a cliché. However, that is not to say it is less important. To answer the question correctly, you need to have conducted research on the company. Be aware of its culture, ethos, approach and values. Once you know what makes the company tick, you can tailor your answers to match their criteria (making sure it’s the environment you want to work in!)

Be enthusiastic while answering the question. The interviewer will feel you are suitable for the job if you show you are interested and desire to work for them. However, be careful not to sound desperate or overpraise the company.

8. Can you tell us about how you communicate technical information?

Communication between colleagues is essential in any department. The interviewer may pose this question to determine how good you are at handling a situation requiring communicating with people unfamiliar with accounting. You need to show how adaptable you are in passing information. Your response should also show how patient you are. You can mention that you will make use of simple, relatable analogies in such a situation.

9. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

This is a question asked in almost all interviews. The interviewer wants to know your areas of expertise and your shortcomings. Your strengths need to be in line with the employer’s values. Have specific examples that show your strengths, such as good leadership, patience, diligence when solving problems etc.

Also, ensure you acknowledge your weaknesses but show a willingness to learn and overcome them. For example, you could be impatient by nature but look to brief colleagues early and give deadlines so the work is done well in advance. The interviewing panel won’t be impressed if you can’t list any weaknesses. After all, nobody is flawless!

10. What are your future goals?

This question can take a lot of forms, including “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” As opposed to most people’s opinion, this isn’t a trick question. When answering, show that your objectives are well-thought-out, realistic and in line with your career path and the path in the company. Through your answer, you’ll tell the interviewer you value your career and are motivated to achieve your goals. It would also demonstrate how you view yourself in their company and what type of career you are looking for.

11. What are the challenges facing those in the accounting field?

As an accountant, it is good to be aware of essential things in and around your field. This question will be used to test your knowledge in the accounting field. There’s no clear-cut answer for this reason. For all the challenges you talk about, support them with a solid explanation. A good one to focus on is digital awareness. As the world becomes more digitally aware and driven, accountants need to keep on top of trends and developments. Show how you are doing that by reading articles, listening to podcasts or upskilling with your CPD.

Keep in mind this question requires your opinion. Reading accounting articles and watching financial news can be beneficial. By and large, financial articles do help form opinions.

Final thoughts

Your interview questions will probably be a mixture of general and accounting-specific ones. It’s not only about your knowledge but also about your ‘fit’ in the company that will matter to the interview panel. Above all, ensure you study the company you’re interviewing for so you have in-depth knowledge of what the organisation does and how they do it.

It’s also vital that you get well-prepared for the interview regarding your appearance, so dress for the occasion. Before your interview, review these questions and think of real-life examples you can use during the interview. You’ll find that preparation and personalisation go a long way.

Alan Lynch
6 min read

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