How to Ace Your Accounting Interview

Here’s How to Ace Your Accounting Job Interview. You cannot become a Chartered Management Accountant without work experience. And once you have completed your training, you want to be on the fast track to success and may even want to become a CGMA. Again, you will need to ace that job interview. 

In a previous post we discussed how you should prepare for the job search. In this blog post we discuss how you need to prepare for the accounting interview.

 

1. Learn as much as you can about the company

Do your research 800x400

Visit their website and the LinkedIn company page. Do your research, not just to answer questions, but also for your own benefit. Get a sense of what the firm is about and where the future lies.

Here's a podcast from Liz Ryan of Human Workplace on How To Answer the Question ‘What Do You Know About Our Company?’ But she's also promoting her book, Reinvention Roadmap: Break the Rules to Get the Job You Want and Career You Deserve in the podcast. It may be a good idea to check it out. Liz Ryan is a popular expert in the workplace issues arena and always offers solid advice.

2. Know about the industry your prospective employer is operating in.

If you are going into an accounting firm, you’ll want to know about the accounting industry in your country and what is going on right now. What are the key issues? Latest developments. Reading financial news is a good idea. But you can also find out about the industry from key player websites, Twitter and Facebook pages. Social media is a great tool for this research.

If you are interviewing with the business sector or for a public sector position, again find out about what is going on, what key issues are for that industry or organization.

You want to sound knowledgeable about what is going on and about the firm and its work. Remember, hundreds of others may be vying for that same job. Knowing key issues and being able to demonstrate that casually during the interview is one way to stand out.

3. Find out about salary scales, benefits and compare with others in industry.

moneyGlassdoor.com is a great place to find out information on different pay scales, benefits, company culture, diversity policy and opportunities for growth. Here's a search result page for PwC Australia Salaries.

https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/PwC-Australia-Salaries-EI_IE8450.0,3_IL.4,13_IN16.htm
You will need to register free for accessing detailed info. It is worth it because you can also do searches for jobs and interview information on this site. Not all countries and companies may be covered. But most global firms are likely to be here.

ceo4. Find out about key personalities

Who are the Senior and Managing partners? Who is the Staff Partner? Who are the Directors, the Chairman and CEO? Who will be your boss? Your boss's boss? Who is the person who contacted you, the recruitment manager? Check out their LinkedIn profiles. It cannot hurt to know what you are up against. And knowing their backgrounds will help you face the interview with confidence. You may even meet some of these people in subsequent interviews.

 

5. Prepare a short list of questions you want to ask.

Usually at the end of an interview you will be given the opportunity to ask questions. Don’t ask about obvious things like salaries and perks, unless you really have to. You can learn a lot about salary scales and perks online, or by talking to others or even in the job advertisement itself.  

Form a few questions that demonstrate you are well informed about the industry and enthusiastic about future prospects within the firm and about what projects you will be working on at the beginning.

6. Be prepared to answer their questions.

This Robert Half article on How to prepare for an Accountancy Interview gives you many tips and what type of questions accounting candidates can expect and how to answer them. 

7. Have a firm idea about what you want to do in life, with your career.

career planning

Be clear about your plans for the immediate future. Where do you want to be in five years? This is an obvious question your interviewers may raise. Have a great answer prepared.

You may have heard of the elevator pitch. It is a short prepared speech startup entrepreneurs have about their business idea to deliver if they bump into a financier or venture capitalist in the elevator. It is a pitch about the company that can be delivered within a couple of minutes to grab their attention. Think of employer questions in the same way and prepare. Words matter. So does their presentation and context.

You can even practice answering them with a mock interview with someone you trust.

And what is more, the fact that you put a lot of thought into defining what you want of the future for yourself is a good thing too. It focuses your mind wonderfully, preparing you for success.

on time 400x2508. Plan to get there on time.

Plan to get there about half an hour to 20 minutes ahead of time. This gives you a margin of error if there are snags in transport, or you need to freshen up or use the washroom. Rushing into an interview looking disheveled is the last thing you want to do. 

 

 

9. Be polite to everyone. Smile, it costs nothing.  

That includes the doorman, office aide, the tea lady, the receptionist or the intern who accompanies you to your interview. Bad attitudes, like bad news, travel fast. You don’t want the interviewers to hear about your arrogance or poor attitude even before you enter the interview room.

Therefore be polite, smile – fake it until you make it! Hope you have heard of that expression already If not, have a look at the TED’s talk here:

Here’s a great TED Talk video from Amy Cuddy: Fake it Till You Make it!

10. Take all your important certificates with you.

CGMA certification

Keep them in a professional looking portfolio. Whether your interviewers will actually look at them depends on the country, firm, and general culture. In most cases, you’d have already forwarded copies of your certificates to the company HR anyway. But originals are important.

11. Be prepared to explain briefly what you did in your previous jobs.

Do not ramble.

Saying “I was a trainee accountant” means very little. Depending on the size and scale of the firm, you could have been verifying petty cash for years in a large firm (we have a friend who did nothing but work on fuel consumption in an airline client through her two years in one of the big firms) or you could have been leading assignments as a senior. Your interviewer needs to get a clear idea of what exactly you did.  

12. It is not just what you do, but also what you must avoid.

Check out this list of Dos and Don’ts for preparing for your job interview from CIMA Global My Jobs.

cv13. Work on getting a good resume.

And we don’t mean one that just looks great on paper. Find and make use of opportunities—paid or unpaid—that add substance to your resume.

This naturally depends on the employer. But, if you do your research well, you will know what they value. Is it people with good academics (Classes, honours) or people with a variety of extracurricular activities? What skills do they value? What sort of volunteer or other work can give you the right kind of skills to ace your interview? Develop skills that are valued by your prospective employer, even if it is not part of your CIMA curriculum.

  • Your computing skills and knowledge about popular accounting packages.
  • Mathematical skills
  • Leadership and management know-howw
  • Professionalism, responsibility and accountability.
  • Patience, persistence and grit are qualities any employer values. But integrity is something much valued in accounting circles as is your ability to be precise and pay attention to detail.

14. Bring extra copies of your resume.

This can come in handy and shows that you are prepared and professional.

15. Listen to the questions carefully and answer them.

This seems such an obvious thing, but not everyone waits and listens before speaking. If you are someone who is fond of your own voice, be extra careful. You want to give focused clear answers. Not rambling ones. This is where preparation matters.

silence 220x18016. Learn to be comfortable with silence. 

They ask the question. You give the answer. If they take time before the next question, just keep quiet. While you should not be always giving yes or no answers, remember that it is not your job to fill the silence. Trying to do so can often be disadvantageous to you.  

17. Once the interview is over, thank your interviewers.

Shake hands, if that seems appropriate. An orderly exit is as important as a good entrance.

Thank you hand shake 220x180


We wish you good luck in the interview.
Visit our blog every week for more career and exam related articles.

 

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