By Marga Salvador on April 4, 2016
Unless you’re a human resource specialist, job applicants usually lose sight of the fundamental purpose of the interview—finding and hiring the right person for an available position.
Candidates, especially fresh graduates, often overlook the fact that the process is designed to test an applicant’s compatibility with the organization and his or her competency. For recruiters and hiring managers, interviews are means to assess an applicant’s background and qualifications, as well as their soft skills. They’re looking at an applicant’s ability to think on their feet, how they present themselves, and whether they’re bound to fit in the company culture. The key to acing a job interview is to put one’s best professional foot forward.
For accounting jobs, in particular, an applicant is right away assessed based on: their computing skills, knowledge of corporate accounting software, and basic mathematical skills. Actively preparing for your interview, including practicing answers to common accounting interview questions, will help you make a great first impression on the hiring manager.
Here are the five most common accounting interview questions.
1. What made you decide to be an accountant?
A warm-up question, this allows a hiring manager to break the ice and get to know you better at a more personal level. This question, however basic it may be, can easily stump an applicant.
As a candidate, you should answer clearly and communicate examples of events and experiences in your life that led you to the accounting field. Instances like being the treasurer of your class back in sixth grade, or saving up for a big purchase, can actually give your interviewer a grasp of you apply accounting practices in real life, and potentially the workplace.
2. Do you possess basic knowledge of accounting standards?
Regardless if you’ve never had a job in the field before, you should be able to answer this question with an ample knowledge of international accounting standards.
While there are so many facets of International Accounting Standards (IAS) that it would be impossible to be up to speed on all of them, you should do some research on the most recent changes to these standards before the interview and be prepared to discuss them when you meet the recruitment officer.
3. How do you minimize computational mistakes in your work?
The smallest errors can impact major financial issues, which is the reason accountants are held to a high standard of excellence. As an assuring response, you should discuss being meticulous with output, checking your work several times, and establishing a system with checks and balances.
Aim for giving an example about an experience wherein you caught an error while double checking.
4. Can you state how you’ve helped reduce cost?
Right away, this question is a challenge for an applicant who’s never held an accounting job before. Experienced accountants can mention how they’ve contributed in their previous jobs, as well as the steps carried out to result in positive outcomes. A newbie, on the other hand, can go beyond and above by making suggestions to management and identifying key areas where costs can be reduced.
5. Where do you see yourself as an accountant five years from now?
Perhaps the most asked interview question that still catches some applicants off guard, this allows an interviewee to show off their ultimate ambition and foresight.
You can choose to be modest and truthful by mentioning that despite having fears and encountering challenges, you’re finding ways to work and overcome them as you join the workforce. Further, since learning is always part of working, this should be part of your answer as well to prove your determination, as well as willingness to step out of your comfort zone.
Aside from your personal goals, you should also mention how working for the company you’re applying to figures in your plan and trajectory. For instance, being it your first job will significantly contribute not only to your personal growth, but career development as well, especially if you see yourself in a managerial position five years from now.
It’s possible to increase your chance of getting employed in your chosen field by preparing for these interview questions—even if you’re a recent graduate. Don’t forget to ask questions to convey your interest in working for the company. Smile, listen attentively, and be friendly. Every interview is an opportunity to build your network regardless if you ace it or not.