5 expert tips for your next accounting job interview
Are you looking to make your next move in the accountancy industry? We’ve asked our accountancy experts for their top tips to help you shine in your next interview…
If you’re looking to land your next accountancy role, preparing for your next interview can be a daunting process.
To help you make sure the numbers are stacked in your favour, we’ve asked two of our accountancy experts for their advice…
Let your CV tell the story
Mark McGarry, finance commerce consultant in Robert Walters’ Sydney office, tells his candidates to make sure their CVs show their career progression. “One key thing candidates forget to include in their CVs is promotions. Instead of just saying ‘financial accountant’ for four years, put ‘junior accountant’ for two years and ‘financial accountant’ for two years. This will show hiring managers that you have succeeded in your previous roles and been rewarded.”
Part of this CV storytelling should include detailing your own personal achievements in every role you’ve had. As he explains, “focusing on any process improvements you’ve implemented —such as reducing tax or introducing a new way of financial reporting — will quickly show hiring managers what you’re capable of and what you’d bring to the role.”
Mark also reminds his applicants to list out all their credentials and expertise that might be linked to the role. “All relevant experience should be highlighted clearly on your CV,” he says. “Alongside any chartered accountancy qualifications, you should also include the technical knowledge you have, as experience with IT software and systems is increasingly important to hiring managers.”
Do your homework
It is important for candidates to research on the company’s background, financials, news as well as its most profitable products or services. “By doing so, candidates can demonstrate that they’re truly interested in the role – not just applying for jobs that are available,” shares Maxine Giray, senior commerce finance consultant in Robert Walters’ Manila office. “Additionally, it is important to read the job description thoroughly and understand the responsibilities involved and skills required so that you can highlight relevant experience during the interview itself.”
“Another thing I often encourage my candidates to do is to research the interviewer’s background. This can help you find common ground for conversation. Perhaps you were from the same university, or both worked in competitor companies,” says Maxine. “Establishing rapport with the interviewer will go a long way towards helping you stand out from your competition.”
Prepare for accounting interview questions
There are two main types of questioning that candidates can expect in an accountancy interview, explains Mark: technical competency questions and psychometric behavioural questions.
“When it comes to technical skills, you’ll need to show that you can work with large datasets and do complex reconciliations of the data included,” he says. “Or if, for example, the company is still going through IFRS implementations then you should expect questions on how they would attach costs and revenue to types of contracts or projects affected by the changes.”
Apart from technical skills, organisations also want candidates who will be a good fit for the company. “More and more organisations are using behavioural assessments or personality tests to help them determine if a candidate will be a good fit. Don’t underestimate the importance of these tests as they will definitely factor into the final decision,” explains Maxine. “If you were given an online test to do in your own time, ensure that you have sufficient time to complete it. The last thing you want to do is rush through the test and provide answers that do not accurately reflect your personality.”
Show off your communication and consultation skills
Being able to communicate is important in any job you apply for but, as Mark advises his applicants, in an accountancy role a hiring manager will want assurances that you are able to work successfully with people outside your immediate team and communicate with other stakeholders.
“Being able to partner with other areas of the business and talk about accounts using non-financial terms is a key skill that you should look to highlight,” he says. “This ability is highly sought-after and often not seen across all candidates, so draw on any experience and expertise you have in this area.”
Maxine agrees. “Accounting and finance are rapidly changing and business partnering is now one of the most in-demand skills in the market. Companies now understand the value of having an accounting hire who is able to build strong partnerships and collaborate with operations, sales and marketing, supply chain and other functions to propel the business forward by creating value among various stakeholders.”
Demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role
In an interview setting, Mark reminds his candidates to focus solely on why they want the job. “Discussing the reasons why you want to leave your current position could lead to some red flags for the interviewer. Make sure you stay focused on the pull factors of the job that you are interviewing for instead.”
“Asking genuine, insightful questions regarding the business and your role can leave a meaningful impression on hiring managers. These could include questions about how you work with other functions or how you can help contribute to the business,” says Maxine. “If they’re easily accessible, you could even go the extra mile to try out some of the products or services the company is selling and let them know your thoughts about them – and how they can be improved. This will show that you’re genuinely interested in the business and the company.”
Look for your next accounting role here or check out our career advice section for more interview tips.