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    7 Common Questions You're Sure to Hear at Your Next Accounting Job Interview
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    7 Common Questions You're Sure to Hear at Your Next Accounting Job Interview

    January 2024

    Accounting job opportunities are plentiful and well-paying. Job candidates with work experience in public accounting at large firms are specifically in demand.

    If you’re new to the accounting and finance career field, you likely don’t have that experience yet. And even seasoned professionals don’t always have it, especially when local medium-sized and small firms have such attractive qualities.

    Don’t worry if your background doesn’t include public accounting work at a large firm. Other skills, abilities, and experiences can help you successfully land jobs.

    Softer skills, like written and verbal communication, organization, time management, and attention to detail, are as essential as technical knowledge. You can count on an interviewer to ask some typical questions to get to know you and your entire range of capabilities.

    Put your best foot forward and nail your interview by reviewing the questions below and developing your answers beforehand.

    Practice, Research, Prepare

    Preparing to answer the most common interview questions can help experienced or budding accountants grab CPA opportunities.

    You’ll find some of the most common questions below. However, to fully prepare, you must practice, research, and plan for the big day.

    • Practice– Figure out your best answers to the questions and then practice saying them over and over. In the mirror, to a friend, to your pet… The more, the better.
    • Research– Search for the top accounting skills and make sure yours get up to par if they aren’t currently. Visit the website of the firm you’ll be interviewing with to learn all you can about them. It will help you develop good questions to ask in your interview (which makes you look like the engaged go-getter you are). Additionally, determine if the firm is a good fit for you and the type of accounting software they use.
    • Plan– Map your travel route. Learn how to get to their firm and how much time you need. Aim to get to your interview a few minutes early. Get to bed early enough the night before for decent rest. Pre-pack any necessary documents (resume, cover letter, references, etc.).

    The “Tell Me About Yourself” Question

    This question and other background questions like it serve as icebreakers to get to know you better. They also aim to gauge your fit with their company and position.

    Include at least three to five relevant points that relate to the job position in your answer. They’ll likely ask you a separate question about the industries you’ve worked in if you don’t answer it here. Include your education, related work experience, and any projects or significant achievements. It always looks good to add how you became interested in the career field, role, and company.

    The “What Accounting Software Are You Familiar With” Question

    Some accounting software is popular among many firms. Others have proprietary setups.

    You can’t possibly have experience with all the unique software out there. If you can discover what the firm uses ahead of time, you might have time to take some classes in it or teach some of it to yourself. If so, let them know you’ve done your due diligence.

    Otherwise, focus your discussion on what you have used and how easily you’ve adapted to new software. Give specific examples from your past.

    The “What Accounting Processes Are You Familiar With” Question

    They want to know how your previous experience aligns with the position you are applying for. Tell them about your past and current job duties. It will help if you can relate it to the role you are applying for.

    Are you just starting with little to no job experience? Talk about your roles in group projects and internships.

    The “Do You Have Your CPA License” Question

    This question is as cut and dry as they come. You do, or you don’t.

    If you don’t, you can discuss your timeline for getting it. Or, let the interviewer know the parts you have sat for and passed. Mention other certifications, distinctions, and achievements here, especially if you don’t plan to complete your licensure soon.

    The “Tell Me About a Tight Deadline” Question

    Accountants must have excellent time management abilities. Talk about meeting deadlines, finishing a project early, motivating your team, and putting in whatever time it took to complete your responsibilities on time.

    The “How Do You Prioritize/Organize Your Work” Question

    Accountants must regularly juggle many clients and responsibilities. Talk about how you organize your time commitments. What processes do you use? A paper calendar? A scheduling app or time-blocking techniques? Do you regularly delegate tasks to a team?

    The “How Do You Handle Challenges With Others” Question

    Accountants will typically have to handle financial discrepancies within their organization or among clients. Hiring managers want to see that you can fearlessly navigate those with tact and professionalism.

    Learning the STAR method for this and all other behavior-based questions is helpful. STAR stands for:

    • Situation
    • Task
    • Action
    • Result

    Let the interviewer know what you did in a past case. Tell them the situation, the task you were in charge of, what you did to rectify it, and how it turned out.

    Technical and Soft Skills Need Apply

    In addition to technical competencies, accountants must have soft skills like communication, teamwork, organization, time management, attention to detail, and precision. Learn the most common questions you’ll hear from hiring managers and recruiters to compose your answers in ways that show off both your soft and technical skills.

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