If you’re interviewing for an accounting position, it’s important that you are prepared to answer the tough questions you’ll be asked. There will be a lot of general questions to give the interviewer a sense of who you are as a person, but you will also encounter questions tailored specifically to your work as an accountant.
Here are the top 10 accounting interview questions, along with simple answers you can give:
1. What experience do you have in accounting?
This is time to talk about your studies, any work experience you gained after graduating, and any jobs you worked at previously. You can also talk about funny stories about managing your allowance as a child or teenager, or handling your family’s finances.
2. Why did you want to become an accountant?
It’s certainly not the most glamorous job, and it’s not for everyone. So, why did you want to become an accountant?
Think about why you got into accounting—the love of numbers, your innate math skills, your desire to hunt down discrepancies, and so on. Think about what you really love about your job, and share that!
3. How do you see yourself growing in this position?
This is when you mention that you want to work toward being the head accountant, the CFO, and other high-ranking positions. Ambition is always a good trait to show in an interview, as it means you plan to work hard.
4. What challenges do you expect to face in this position?
Accounting comes with many challenges—keeping the books balanced, trying to find ways to cut costs, managing taxes and payroll, and the list goes on. Think about how you plan to improve the company via your work as an accountant, and share that with the interviewer.
5. What has been your greatest challenge to date?
This is not time to talk about the hardship of school or life at home, but the interviewer wants to know about professional challenges. Think about a challenge you were given at school or in a real life scenario, and let the interviewer know how you solved it.
6. How do you handle mistakes?
This is a VERY important question to be prepared for. No one is 100 percent accurate, and you need to be prepared to handle mistakes in the books, payroll, taxes, and the rest. You will have learned how to handle mistakes when in school, so share what you have learned and the steps you should take to correct accounting errors.
7. How do you motivate yourself to work?
Accounting can be quite menial and boring, so it’s a job that requires self-motivation. Share with your interviewer the ways that you keep yourself working hard and inspired, or how you stay interested in your job or industry.
8. How do you handle pressure?
Accountants have to deal with a lot of pressure, such as during tax season, when it comes time to handle payroll, or when dealing with emergencies in the company. So, how do you cope with the crunch of doing your work in a deadline? Share your pressure-handling skills and tactics with the interviewer.
9. Have you helped to develop or improve any accounting processes?
This is a chance for you to brag a little and show off your accounting chops. If the interview is an accountant, it’s a good time to get technical. If not, keep the information relevant and easy to understand—using statistics, limiting jargon, and talking in numbers that they can understand.
10. Explain X problem to me like I have no prior accounting experience.
This is a tough question to answer, as it requires you to take your technical knowhow and make it understandable by someone who has no skills. Again, make sure that you use statistics and quantifiable numbers (percentages or dollar amounts), and limit your use of jargon.
Be prepared for these 10 questions, and you’ll ace any accounting interview you attend!