Securing an interview with an accountancy firm is no mean feat. You want to be sure that when you get to your interview, you are well-prepared and ready to tackle whatever questions they throw at you. We’ve pulled together a few accounting interview questions you might expect to see.
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Table of contents
- Why do you want to do accountancy?
- Are you able to convey technical information to someone of more or less technical ability? Please give an example.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Can you give examples of when you’ve helped a team be successful?
- Why do you want to work for this firm?
1. Why do you want to do accountancy?
Naturally, the way you answer this accountancy interview question will differ from business to business. When it comes to becoming a qualified accountant, it’s very important that you understand the firm’s expertise and areas of speciality. Have a think about the area you are interested in and why it appeals to you. For example, if you are interested in going in to tax, your reasons might be that you like trying to save people money and you enjoy the challenge of searching for loopholes.
If you were going into something like legislation, you might focus on your attention to detail and dedication to work. On the other hand, something like forensic accountancy requires investigative skills. Essentially, to nail this question you need to drill down on what the firm specialises in, what you would like to specialise in, and why your skill set fits so well into the role. The key to this is having a full understanding of the firm and your motivations for applying there.
2. Are you able to convey technical information to someone of more or less technical ability? Please give an example.
When a panel asks this accountancy interview question, they are looking for you to demonstrate confidence and clear communication. You will need to demonstrate your ability to digest information and break it down stage by stage. The example you give does not need to be related to accountancy, however, there are some key accountancy terms you can learn. You need to show that you can summarise and process information in a manner which is patient and adaptable. In your example, try and illustrate your ability to judge character and adapt your communication style as necessary.
It’s very important that you understand the firm’s expertise and areas of speciality.
3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
The strengths and weaknesses question is asked in so many interviews, so be prepared for it. Assess your skills and identify three key strengths which match up to the employer's values. When working in accountancy, you need evidence of having a great eye for detail.
When discussing your strengths, have specific examples of where your strengths have been valued. Identifying and talking about your weaknesses is always a challenge, so when you present your weakness as a problem, talk about how you have gone about addressing it. If possible, this should be a professional trait rather than a personality flaw. And don't be afraid of admitting your weaknesses - saying you don't have any will not impress an interviewer.
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4. Can you give examples of when you’ve helped a team be successful?
Don’t be fooled by this question – they aren’t asking for an example of when you have led a team so they aren’t necessarily asking you to demonstrate leadership qualities. As an accountant, you will need to work with various different teams, so try and talk about a time when you have supported or had a positive influence within a group. Mention how the team improved due to your efforts, and try to reference skills of resilience, co-operation and professionalism.
5. Why do you want to work for this firm?
The million-dollar question. This question, like many other accounting interview questions, requires extensive research into the firm, its values, its culture and what distinguishes it from other firms. Have a thorough awareness of the different types of accounting and have reasons to back up why you want to pursue a particular area. Think about your prospects, and how this firm differentiates itself in terms of opportunity. This is your chance to show off your passion and enthusiasm, so make sure you don’t let yourself down. Keep it personal. Don't fall into the trap of making grand, sweeping statements about the firm in general. Tell them why you want to be there. The more personal you are, the more memorable and unique your answer will be.
Now you know how to prepare for the interview, browse graduate jobs in accounting, audit and tax today.