A fair portion of my followers, viewers and subscribers are keen to obtain a job in the field of finance and accounting. Many are currently studying an accounting related qualification and are eager to start work in an accounting role or currently have a job in accounting and are looking elsewhere. Due to this I thought it would be of some benefit to write a blog post about accounting interview questions and answers, as well as some advice about interview preparation.
How to get an Interview
Some of you may have not reached the interview stage yet, I have been there and it is not fun. When I first started my accounting studies my job applications were turned down again and again. This time of my career life was very discouraging, the frequent rejection often led to frustration and feelings of helplessness... Years on my worry almost seems comical. I have become one of the best in the industry and have had several accounting jobs. So what is my advice for getting a job interview...
1. DON'T GIVE UP! Keep applying and never give up. It may be discouraging receiving email replies stating 'you have not been successful in obtaining an interview' but an interview will come, just keep applying.
2. Tailor your CV to the position you are applying for. Do not send the same CV to every applied for vacancy, ensure your written experience relates to the job you are applying for. If you applying to be a purchase ledger clerk then on your CV place emphasis on purchase ledger experience you have etc. Employers will often look for previous relevant experience first, qualifications second, and then other things.
3. Gain more experience and qualifications. If you don't have any or much experience in accounting then get some. Ask family and friends that are self-employed if they will allow you to do their accounts for them. Look for additional qualifications you can take.
Before the Interview
1. Make yourself presentable. Wear appropriate clothing and be well groomed.
2. Briefly research the company or business you have applied for. Do not memorise a load of facts, this will add extra pressure on you and will give the impression to your interviewers that you have memorised a load of facts! Instead make sure you know what the company does and the job roles for the interviewed vacancy.
Interview Questions and Answers
Listed below are some common questions asked at an interview. I have included some advice on how to answer these questions.
Q: Tell us about yourself...
This is not an opportunity to tell your potential future employers that you like skiing, mountain climbing or reading books, instead tell them about your previous experience. Just as your CV application let your interviewers know experience that is relevant. If the role you are being interviewed for is for cost accounting, let them know experience relevant to cost accounting. Also tell your interviewers about relevant qualifications, "I spent 3 months studying cost accounting during my AAT qualification, I remember that it was my favourite accounting subject that year and I did very well in the cost accounting exam".
Q: Why have you applied for this position...
Show interest and use your common sense. You should never lie in an interview (or any other time!) but you can choose how much you wish to share with your interviewers. If you are not getting on with your current work colleagues or struggle with your current employer do not mention this, it will only give off a bad impression. Instead focus on things that will come across as positive, "my current position is not really what I am looking, I do like the accounting roles that I have but I am eager to be in a role that is more [purchase ledger, costing, sales ledger, tax accounting] orientated".
Q: Why do you think you are the right person for the job?
This is another opportunity to tell your potential future employers about yourself, "As mentioned my current job is very similar, I feel that I have the ability, knowledge and experience to be competent in this role. My circumstances also offer a lot to the current vacancy, I live relatively close and I am looking for something long-term".
Q: What weaknesses do you have?
Let your interviewers know of weaknesses that could also be considered strengths. Perhaps you become frustrated when things are not done correctly? Perhaps you are a perfectionist and have spent slightly more time than you should ensuring projects and work assignments are 'perfect'? Perhaps you sometimes feel slightly competitive due to your desire to excel?
I hope this post has been of help and wish you all the best in your job searches, applications and interviews. I would love to hear how it goes firstname.lastname@example.org