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Five key questions you may be asked in an accountancy interview

If you’re applying for an accountancy job the questions you’ll be asked at interview will obviously depend on the role you’re applying for. Having said that, there are some questions that interviewers are very fond of, no matter what the job is.

Answering them well could give you the edge over other job seekers.

How well are your skills matched to the job specification?

There are many accounting roles where, no matter how good you are, if you don’t tick the boxes on the job specification you won’t get the job. Interviewers will often ask you about your specific skills and experiences to ensure you can carry out all the tasks that are involved in the role.

The more technical the accounting position you are applying for, the more specific you have to be with your answers. So, for example, if you’re applying for a role as a reporting accountant, you’ll have to show that you’re up to speed with reporting standards for the business, the country it’s based or operating in and the type of company structure. 

If you’re applying for a commercial accountant or financial planning and analysis (FP&A) role, you will be asked about themes and business flows in your industry rather than how numbers are represented externally.

Don’t overpromise but ensure you can provide evidence of the experience you have and an eagerness to learn things you don’t know. Explain how you’ve picked up systems or cultures etc. in your previous role.  

When have you added value in your current role?

You must be specific because this question is designed to test your competency and skill set. There’s no right or wrong answer, but you should be able to demonstrate that you’ve had genuine involvement in adding value. 

So this could be where you stepped out of the finance arena and interfaced with sales and marketing or operations and gave them valuable information to generate higher revenue and/or save costs. Or it could be from a costing or finance perspective or relating to risk or reporting. 

It’s worth bearing in mind that what you may perceive as adding only modest value, the interviewer may regard as far more significant. Even if your CV isn’t the strongest, it may give you the edge. 

There are some questions that interviewers are very fond of, no matter what the job is. Answering them well could give you the edge over other job seekers.

What are the most technically challenging parts of your role?  

If there’s not much to say about your current role, try to recognise the technically challenging parts of the job you’re applying for before you’re interviewed and do some research. 

If, for example, the company has its headquarters in the US there will be different reporting requirements. Understand what you will need in terms of a technical perspective. 

If you’re asked a specific technical question that you don’t know the answer to, say that you would do some research, and give an example of a situation where you had to find out information of a technical nature and apply it in your current or previous roles.

What is your management style? 

This is designed to establish that you are more than just numbers oriented. The interviewer wants to know what you have done to contribute to the team environment.  So, give examples of teamwork, such as where you’ve stepped in to help others, how you communicate to team members and/or how you’ve motivated them in difficult times. 

It’s also good if you can show that you can work with different teams. You may be pulled in to work with other teams operating in a very different field. 

When have you successfully used your influencing skills outside of finance?

The key here is to show that you’re at ease with non finance staff. Give the interviewer an example of where you’ve influenced processes and procedures. You may have helped bring about a change in operations or given people new ideas about how to generate revenue or cut costs. Make sure your example reflects the business you’re applying for a role with. 

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