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A Comprehensive Guide for Accountants: Nailing Your Job Interview

by Kourtney Luckett. Senior Consultant at TPF Recruitment.





You may have realised that securing a position as an accountant requires more than just technical expertise.


Practices want candidates who not only possess the technical skills but also demonstrate strong communication, problem-solving abilities, and a solid understanding of the industry. As you prepare for your upcoming job interview, here's a comprehensive guide tailored specifically for accountants to help you stand out and ace the interview.


 

Research the Company


Before stepping into the interview, research the practice. Understand its core values, mission, and culture. Familiarise yourself with its financial standing, recent news, and any significant business changes. This knowledge will not only demonstrate your genuine interest but also enable you to tailor your responses effectively.


Tip: Google the company name and see what comes up. Look at their LinkedIn page and see what they post. Take a look at their company website too. 


 

Review Technical Skills


Accounting interviews often include technical questions to assess your proficiency in accounting principles, financial analysis, and relevant software. Review fundamental concepts such as GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles), financial statements, budgeting, and taxation. Be prepared to discuss your experience with accounting, highlighting any certifications or specialised training you've undergone.


Tip: If you’re using a recruiter, like me, ask if they have previously administered a test in the interview. We’ll likely be able to give you a heads up on what to expect.

 

 

Showcase Problem-Solving Abilities


Accounting roles often involve complex problem-solving scenarios. Prepare to discuss your approach to solving challenges and how you work in a client-centred way. Use examples from your past experiences to illustrate your analytical skills, attention to detail, and ability to make sound decisions under pressure.


Tip: Before you attend an interview sit and reflect on when you’ve done the above during work. Write these examples and evidence down so you’re more likely to remember them on the spot during the interview.

 

 

Practice Behavioural Interview Questions


Behavioural questions delve into your past experiences and behaviours to predict your future performance. Practice responding to questions that assess your teamwork, leadership, adaptability, and integrity. Structure your answers using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to provide context and demonstrate your competency effectively.


Tip: Do you have any questionable moves on your CV or is there another situation you’re concerned about them questioning, prepare your responses in advance.

 

 

Highlight Soft Skills


In addition to technical proficiency, employers value soft skills such as communication, interpersonal abilities, and time management. Prepare clear examples that showcase your soft skills, emphasising your attention to detail, integrity, and commitment to accuracy, which are crucial qualities for accounting professionals.


 

Prepare Questions to Ask


An interview is a two-way street. Prepare insightful questions to ask the interviewer about the company culture, team dynamics, growth opportunities, and expectations for the role. Engaging in meaningful dialogue demonstrates your genuine interest in the position and helps you evaluate whether the company aligns with your career goals and values.


Tip: We have a lot of rejections for candidates that don’t show interest in the role and practice, and don’t prepare insightful questions. It’s an area you can easily get right so take time to prepare these questions.


 

Dress and Behave Professionally


First impressions matter. Dress professionally (always overdress than underdress), arrive on time (or maximum 5-10 minutes early), maintain eye contact, and greet everyone with courtesy and respect. Demonstrate confidence, enthusiasm, and a positive attitude throughout the interview process.


Tip: Don’t turn up too early. You’ll know accountants are busy and 5-10 minutes as a general rule is acceptable. If you’re there early grab a coffee locally and read over your preparation again.

 

 

Follow Up


After the interview, reach out to your recruiter and give them your feedback. We then relay this to the company. The quicker you do this, the keener you’ll seem (which is a good thing!) You can also send your interviewer a personalised thank you, expressing your appreciation and interest, and reiterating key points discussed in the interview.

 

 

Conclusion


To succeed in a job interview requires a combination of demonstrating technical knowledge and softer skills that are needed to excel as a client-facing accountant. Remember to use your recruiter for a pre-interview call and prepare for the interview using a combination of the above.




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