Job interviews can be exciting, nerve wracking, enlightening, difficult, and life changing. Proving yourself to a potential employer in a single encounter can be a daunting task, especially when it feels like there is so much at stake. Spending a little bit of time preparing to put your best foot forward can greatly enhance your interview experience. It can not only improve your performance during the interview—but your confidence before, during, and after the experience. Overall, some thoughtful pre-interview preparation can help ensure the highest possibility of landing the job.
General Questions to Expect in Any Interview
The business news source, Inc.com, provides a list of 50 sample questions that might be expected in any job interview. Lists similar to this are also easily accessible through a variety of resources. As a job candidate, using these lists can give you a significant advantage regarding your interview preparation.
It is recommended that you read through a few different lists of common interview questions and begin to formulate your answers. It is also recommended that you NOT memorize canned responses and then deliver them during your interview. Simply spending some time thinking through what you might say, or examples you could share in response to those common questions, should be enough to help you prepare and still sound natural in your responses. To get you started, here are a few standard interview questions you will probably encounter:
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- Can you give an example of a time when you encountered a difficult situation and how you handled it?
- Describe yourself.
- Why should we hire you?
Accounting-Specific Interview Questions
Obviously, job-specific questions will vary by industry. When interviewing for an accounting position, there are a few types of questions you can expect to be asked. Like general interview questions, lists of standard accounting interview question can be found through various resources. An example published by, The Balance, an online resource for financial professionals, is included in the source list of this post. Here are a few of the most common questions used in interviews for accounting positions and tips for how to prepare for them.
- Do you have knowledge of accounting standards?
Before the interview, refresh your memory to make sure you can correctly identify any frameworks, computer applications, theories, processes, certifications, or training you’ve received. Even if you’re well experienced with a particular tool or process, being unable to correctly identify it by its proper name or title will not earn you points in an interview.
- Which Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have you used?
Many accounting interviews will involve questions about your specific experience with, or use of, computer applications. Be familiar, at least by name, with not only the systems you may have used in the past, but the alternatives and other industry-standard systems that are commonly available. Saying you don’t have experience in a named system is reasonable. This works much better than if you didn’t recognize the system at all by its name.
- Can you describe a time when you helped reduce costs at a previous accounting job?
Employers are looking for innovators and problem solvers. Being able to demonstrate past examples of initiative will strengthen your candidacy. This will count even more if your example demonstrates a team-oriented or business-first attitude in which you sought to help your company or firm.
- In what environment do you see yourself succeeding?
Being able to answer this question proves to your interviewer that you’ve put thought into how you can best contribute to an organization. It is in an organization’s best interest to match employees with their skillsets, interests, and career goals. It is in your best interest to consider where you would best fit into an organization—or where, how, and why you do your best work.
Finishing Touches: How to Best Prepare for Your Interview
- Know the organization you’re interviewing for.
Having an understanding of the prospective employer can help you formulate good questions, clarify anything you noticed that might indicate a less-than-perfect fit, and contextualize information provided during the interview. Additionally, some interviewers may ask you questions to test your knowledge of the organization. Displaying your familiarity with their business will demonstrate your forethought, your interest in the company, and your thorough preparation. Conversely, being caught unaware or asking basic questions about the company might be perceived as a lack of interest or inadequate planning on your part.
- Know your own work history.
Before you enter the interview setting, think through your previous work experience and try to recall specific examples of situations when you proved your worth and talent. By priming your memory, you won’t leave the interview thinking you could have done better; remembering examples later you wish you would have shared when it counted.
- Dress to impress.
Professionalism goes a long way in earning a position, and it starts with the way you dress. First impressions are critical. Wear appropriate, practical business attire and pay attention to the details. Accounting is a detail-oriented profession and thus your attention to the details of your appearance on interview day will not be overlooked.
- Have a question or two of your own to ask.
Interviews often conclude with the interviewer asking the applicant if they have any questions about the job or company. Make sure you have questions prepared. Never leave an interview without asking a question.
With a little planning, you can transform an upcoming interview from a formidable challenge into an extraordinary opportunity. Preparing for the interview will return dividends in increased confidence; less worry; and better chances of landing a job that best fits your unique needs, skills, and ambitions.
Numbers are the foundation of any business — and no one knows numbers better than accountants. But to succeed as a financial professional in today’s competitive landscape, you need more than numerical know-how; you need the expertise to conduct analysis and leverage data to drive business decisions. That’s exactly what the online Master of Accountancy from Ohio University prepares you to do.