So you’ve started your CPA journey and seek to work in meaningful positions at reputed firms. Interviewers have quite a different approach towards treating candidates in this day and age. The questions they ask have evolved, and so has the requirement: accounting firms no longer need pure desk-jockeys to do the job – the candidate must be a well-rounded individual to make it into the company.
As such, when facing an accounting interview, a different approach is needed to prepare yourself. This blog will highlight the top 10 interview questions and the best answers you can give.
1. Tell Us a Little About Yourself.
By asking this question, the interviewer wishes to know things about you that did not end up in your resume. Instead of describing your life to the panel, focus on what made you choose accounting as a career and your influences/inspirations that helped you hone your skills in the niche.
Also, talk a little about what you enjoy doing the most in the accounting umbrella (for example, audits), how many such projects you have dealt with in this niche, and what the details were. You can also talk about the relevant certifications/courses you have undertaken in accountancy.
2. Are You Familiar With Accounting Software?
In the digital age, many accountants have migrated their operations onto software and cloud-based services. When they ask this question, the interviewers basically wish to understand how quickly you can integrate yourself into their day-to-day operations. With thorough knowledge of using accounting software that the company employs, your relevance for the position rises higher.
3. Tell Us About the Value Additions You Did to Your Previous Job.
This question carries a lot of weight. Here, your potential employers wish to measure your capability of optimizing the accounting process in a way that is customized for the requirement at hand. Talk about the projects where your inputs were implemented and/or applauded by both your ex-employer and the clients. Then, elaborate on how your suggestions improved the overall process and how this impacted the outcome.
You may also add more weight to your candidacy by mentioning if you are CPA certified. Companies prefer hiring experienced accountants with their CPA license in place.
4. Which Accounting Processes Are You Comfortable Performing Efficiently?
Accounting is an umbrella term; it consists of many aspects that are performed differently based on the results required. For example, in finance accounting, you are most likely to be working on cash flows and balance sheets, while in bookkeeping, your role would be a bit different. Form an answer that best matches your experience with the job description you have applied for.
5. Elaborate Your Industry Experience.
When asked this question, try to remember the company’s key niches and its clientele. The interviewing panel basically wants to know if you would be a good fit for the scale and industries they cater their services to. As such, your answer should cover your experience in rendering services to clients similar in scale to the company or their clients.
If you haven’t had that exposure yet, include the closest possible instances and your eagerness to take your career forward through this opportunity.
6. Tell Us About Your CPA.
The CPA certification definitely sets a candidate apart from the others. If you don’t have your certification in place yet but are working on it, tell your interviewers about your plans – how many parts you have passed and when you have planned the remaining CPA exam. If you have your CPA certification, briefly discuss your aspirations and how you wish to take your career forward with this accolade.
7. Have You Ever Worked Inside a Narrow Deadline?
Accountancy is fraught with last-minute operations and missed deadlines. You should know how to get the job done within the time limit provided by the client. Interviewers look for candidates who can perform their tasks even when there is high-pressure build-up. For this question, you can use the STAR method to elaborate on how you tackled a last-minute task in your previous job.
8. Have You Ever Handled Difficult Clients?
This question is a delicate one. Every company has a difficult client of its own; as an accountant, you still need to stick to the schedule and get all your tasks lined up on time. While your answer must portray dealing with difficulties with a particular client, it should not be derogatory or defamatory in nature.
Rather, answer this question focusing purely on how you managed active, meaningful communication with the client to get the task done on time.
9. How Do You Handle Human Error in Your Tasks?
Accountants need to have a hawk’s eye when it comes to number-crunching. Sole dependence on software is not a measure of accountancy skills. To the interviewer, try to explain briefly how you supervised or checked and cross-checked the data coming to your desk. Tell them about any practices or mechanisms you devised for yourself and your team to minimize human errors.
10. Why Do You Wish to Be Hired At This Firm?
By asking this question, most interviewers wish to know if you will last. Nobody likes the idea of being a stepping stone for the crowd. Elaborate on your career goals and how this company is a win-win for both. You may also briefly express why you are the best person for this job.
CPA certification is the highest acknowledgment an accountant can receive on a global scale. Diligent preparations are necessary for both – the exam and the subsequent interviews with this certification in hands. With this guideline, start your career with the best foot forward! Good luck!
Author Bio: Bryan Kesler
Bryan Kesler is a renowned CPA exam mentor and also the founder of CPA Tutor Boost. He aims to provide affordable tutoring solutions to smart accountants struggling to pass the CPA exam. Find his resources and connect with him at cpatutorboost.com.