The top companies are meticulous in their search for the best accounting candidates. If you’re confident in your abilities and you have the experience to prove your value, then the task ahead is to convince your firm of choice that you’re the one.
The first chance you’ll have to show you can switch gears from numbers to people and back again is the interview. No matter how impressive your numbers are, they won’t get you the job on their own. Companies search for people they genuinely want to work with, so they look at more than just past performance and raw data. Your interview prep should include going over the hard facts, but also you should also be prepared for interview questions that relate to your personality, work ethic, and goals in the industry.
There’s no such thing as too much interview prep, so keep reading and get ready to conquer your accounting interview.
What You Should Be Ready to Talk About
Looking up accounting interview questions is a good start; it’ll give you a better idea of what will be asked of you. You’ll probably be asked about your opinions on current goings on in the fields of finance and accounting, as well as your familiarity with certain tools, applications, and resources that’ll be used on the job.
The interviewer will also want to learn about you as a person and employee. The accounting job you’re applying for is a small part of a greater whole, and the firm will want someone with specific characteristics filling that role. Go ahead and talk about your problem-solving skills and your ability to communicate effectively, but be sure to provide real-life examples of how you put these traits to use in the past.
Know Your Firms
Your resume shouldn’t be designed with a “one size fits all” kind of approach; you should have multiple resumes, each tailored to a job you’re applying for. Learn about the firms you hope to work for so you know how to orient your resume and give yourself the best chance at success.
You’re not just interviewing for a job at a firm, and you’re not just interviewing for an accounting job; you’re interviewing for a specific position within your ideal firm, and you should know exactly what kind of qualifications are necessary for that role. Requirements and qualifications should be easy to find in any job listing, so make sure you meet the criteria. Here are some of the biggest names in accounting to keep in mind:
- Ernst & Young
Do some digging and learn what you can about the different businesses you plan on meeting with. Find them on social media and keep track of what they’ve been doing so you can speak in the same language when you come in for the interview. Look through their website and learn about their corporate philosophy. Attend any promotional or networking events they host so you can show your face. This type of interview prep is often overlooked, and yet it can take you a long way.
Make Yourself Appealing
Aside from what’s set in stone, there are important characteristics that the top accounting firms look for. Whether you’re interviewing with Deloitte, PwC, or any other company, you have core personality traits that might make you the most attractive option for the position. Knowing what they’re looking for puts you in a position to show off exactly the traits they want to see.
You need to be good with numbers if you want to be a successful accountant – that much is obvious. But what other characteristics do you possess that could propel the company forward, and how can you convey them by answering accounting interview questions? How will you convince the interviewer that you have something unique to offer?
Use your dedication to numbers to your advantage here. Numbers are clean, precise, and easy, and your demeanor should mimic those traits. Show up on time and in a presentable fashion with everything you’ll need on your person. Know the questions you’ll be asked before they’re posed and be ready with confident, fully thought-out responses. Since a college degree isn’t always a requirement, talk about your specific accounting qualifications; if you’ve passed the AAT and have moved on to higher accounting qualifications, you’re already more qualified than some of the other applicants.
Things to Bring Along
Everything you bring to the interview should be able to fit neatly in one folder. The folder may include samples of your work, multiple copies of your resume, and a notepad you can use to take notes during the meeting. If you have business cards, bring a few of them along as well.
If you don’t have a “brag book”, now would be the time to put one together. This is exactly what it sounds like: a collection of physical evidence of how good you are at your job. Include notable achievements and hard numbers that show you’ve made other businesses more successful by working for them. This saves the interviewer some fact-checking time and demonstrates that you took time out of your busy life to do diligent interview prep.
Questions You Can Ask Them
When it comes time to ask the interviewer questions of your own, you’ll get a chance to put yourself over your competition by asking impressive questions. Ask any personal questions you might have about the job, but also inquire about the company and how it operates. Take this opportunity to demonstrate your interest as well as your knowledge about the company.
You can ask about recent projects the firm has taken on and how they’ve been handled, what the interviewer feels the company needs in order to take the next step, and whether or not there will be opportunities for ongoing training if you do join the team. Make your interest obvious, and ask practical questions that can help both sides decide if you’ve found the right fit.
How to Follow Up
You want to leave off on a good note, so send your interviewer a thank you letter to express your gratitude. A cookie-cutter follow-up letter that you could have sent to anyone may be counterproductive; include specific details from your discussion and quickly recap some of the important points you made to give it a more personal and meaningful feel. The thank you letter should easily stir up a memory of the interaction when the interviewer reads it.
You can also use your follow-up letter to provide the company with references from former coworkers and bosses, links to works you talked about with the interviewer or any other details that weren’t readily available during the meeting. Don’t press the company with multiple letters, and don’t waste their time with something boring and generic.