Saturday, January 5, 2013

Accounting Interview Preparation

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If you have done well with your cover letters and your resume, you should receive an invitation for an interview. Accounting interviews are usually behavior based interviews used to mostly get a feel for the person and see if the candidate would fit well within the company. Throughout all of the accounting interviews that I went through, there was only a handful amount of times where I was asked technical questions. Even then they were not too much in depth and anyone could have answered them if accounting was still fresh in their head.
What you need to know for these interviews is that you have to dress neat and just be comfortable in your own body. The minute you step into the office building of the company that you are interviewing with, you have to be the nicest person possible to everyone in the building, starting from receptionist and ending with the CEO. You need to be liked by the people working at the company so that they would want to hire you and will see themselves working side-by-side with you on a daily basis.

In addition to being nice you should present yourself as being confident. You have to show this through your body language, through the things that you tell them, you are a sales person at that moment, and the product that you are selling is YOU. Ability to convince the employer to "buy" you will be your biggest strength and it only can be done through feeling confident in what you say or do.

As far as the interview questions go, you will have to brush up on MANY interview questions. The first thing that I used to do, was going to websites such as or and reading the reviews of people that have interviewed with the company that I will interview with. Some of the reviews posted were extremely beneficial to me, and have provided quite a great deal of interview questions that I was later asked. I was able to prepare for them ahead of time and nailed them without even blinking.

You should prepare well for as many questions that you can possible think of, but always keep in mind that you should NEVER sound like a robot when giving your answers. As a matter of fact, it is perfectly OK if you take your time to answer a question or ask the recruiter to repeat the question or even paraphrase it. It is better to ask them to ask a question in a different way, than for you to give an answer without fully understanding the questions, which might ruin your chances of getting a job. So here are the questions that WILL most definitely come on your interview:

-Tell me about yourself. This questions is asked 99% of the time during the interview. You should have a sales pitch ready to go when this question is asked. It should not be too long but it cannot be too short either. You should be able to tell the recruiter things about you that are related to the position.

-Strengths and weaknesses. Another typical interview question. You should have three strengths and three weaknesses ready before any interview. Your weaknesses cannot be something that is required from the job that you are applying for and they should be slightly converting to become a strength in the future. Each strength and each weakness should have an example from your experience to go with it.

-Guide me through your resume. You have to know your resume inside and out. If there is anything on the resume that you are not comfortable talking about, it should not be on there.

-What is your biggest accomplishment. I was asked this question in almost every interview as well. The interviewer wants to see how you are different from other candidates that are being considered for the same position. It is your time to shine!

-Where do you see yourself in 5 years. Depending on if you know the ladder for the position that you are applying for, you could nail this questions pretty easily. Otherwise I usually asked the recruiter to tell me about the growth opportunities following the position that I am applying for, in order for me to answer that question.

-What motivates you. This is a good time to show the recruiter if you are driven by exceeding expectations, by helping other to succeed and so on.

-Tell me about the time when you had to handle a conflict situation and what did you do. You should use STAR model for questions like this. First you will have to tell the situation, then the task that you had on hand, then the actions that you took, and then the results.

-Why accounting. You have to show why you chose accounting. It is a pretty hard thing to do when everyone knows that accounting is fairly boring career. I used to say that I felt in love with accounting after taking my first accounting course and how I liked problem solving and numbers. I am sure that you can come up with something much better than this answer but it worked for me.

-Why our company. Almost a 100% of the time they will ask you this question. That is when you show the interviewer how much research you have done on their company. If you know more details about the company, its products, financial data and etc., that might just show the employer that you are more excited and interested about interviewing with their company than the other candidates.

-Questions. Many people that go to the interviews might not think about the "Questions" part as a very crucial part of the interview. However, they are completely wrong. Having interesting questions for your interviewers might just turn everything around for you in terms of showing the recruiter how interested you are. Your questions should not be obvious to answer, neither they should be too hard to answer for the person interviewing you. You should never ask the HR person about company's investments, neither should you ask the VP of accounting department about the benefits that the firm provides. Your questions are the other way of showing these people that you are genuinely interested in working with them and that you have really done your homework.

Not many people enjoy interviewing, but that is something that we will have to do over and over again in our future careers. That is why we have to prepare harder than "the other guy" that is applying for the same position as we are. We get better at interviewing with more practice, so my advice for all of you reading this is this: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. But do not forget, you should never memorize what you are going to say, you should just have a brief outline written out, from which you could answer those questions with a nice flow and confidence. For the behavioral questions, you should have at least 10 stories from your work experience that could apply to a few questions each.

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