Accounting Interview Tips

Any accounting interview is all business. You can expect to be thoroughly grilled on the subject of your previous work, and the currency of your experience, particularly in the essentials of the new job. There's only one way to prepare for an accounting interview, and that's to prepare like you've never prepared before.

Important: The accounting interview can be a bit daunting, even in a friendly workplace. There are a lot of questions, and they're all technical. The interviewers are obliged to go through a lot of material in detail. The fact is that the interview has to be done like that. There's no room for a more relaxed approach, because there's too many questions to get through. Don't get overawed, just stick to business, treat it like a day's work.

Preparation: Interview format

The interview questions need to deal with a specific range of topics, but the basic interview format is purely practical and questions follow a necessary format: This is a typical interview:

Introduction: Tell us about yourself.

  1. Tell us about your current work role.

  2. Give us an example of your problem solving skills.

  3. Tell us about your experience on MYOB or another system.

  4. Give an example of a recent project in which you've been involved.

  5. Tell us of a case when you've had to explain a complex issue to a client, and how you approached it.

  6. Give us an example of dealing with an audit issue.

  7. How do you deal with situations where there are obvious errors in accounts information?

  8. Give an example of your work doing financial analysis.

  9. Give an example of doing a budget for a corporate client, and what was involved.

  10. What's the most difficult situation you've encountered in dealing with a client's accounts data?

This is a comprehensive approach, going through the whole range of job situations. In addition to these directly job-related questions, you can expect these more general but important questions:

  1. Why do you want this job?
  2. What are your career aspirations?
  3. What do you see as the main role of this job?
  4. What are the major issues facing accountancy in this industry?
  5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Important: Don't undervalue the non-technical questions. Each question requires a good, articulate answer, and less effective answers can affect your interview performance.

Preparation: Picking your examples

Put a lot of thought into the examples you select for your answers. It's critically important to give answers which are directly relevant to the job for which you're applying. You answers must prove you have the necessary competence to do the job.

Communications skills

You will get at least one actual communications question. However, be aware that your own communications skills throughout the interview are absolutely vital. Don't let yourself or your interviewers get lost listening to your answers.

To avoid your communications skills letting you down, use the STAR technique for your interview answers:

  • Situation: The issues involved.
  • Task: The objective.
  • Actions: What you did about the situation, and why.
  • Result. The outcome, addressing each element of the situation.

This is a particularly reliable way of answering a question clearly and keeping your answer structured.