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5 Crucial Accounting Interview Tips


You have worked hard to create a perfectly formatted cover letter and an outstanding resume to match, and now it’s time to get ready for the highly anticipated first job interview. Hiring managers use the first interview to learn basic, pertinent information about you, your job history and your skills. It is during this first interview that they will determine whether or not they want to meet with you again and learn more about what you have to offer.

When preparing for your first interview, you should make note of general best practices that successful interviewees use in order to make a great first impression. Your goals should be to showcase your most notable skills, confidently stand out from the competition and convince the hiring manager that you are a perfect fit for the job. The following accounting interview tips are meant to supplement best interview practices and help you pull off a successful interview that is memorable for all the right reasons.

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Accounting Interview Tips

Showcase Your Problem-Solving Skills: Your interviewer’s job is to determine whether or not you are the most qualified candidate for the position. Most accountants deal with complicated financial matters on a daily basis, so it is important to showcase your problem-solving skills during your interview. You can do this by giving very specific examples of difficult accounting problems you have analyzed and solved throughout your career. You might also consider talking about specific actions you have taken to improve efficiency or save money for your employers.

Make Sure You Have the Proper Education, Certifications and Licenses: If you are applying for a job that involves filing reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the law requires you to pass the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. This exam is administered through your state and requires you to pass a four-part examination that is uniform across all states. Before a candidate can become a CPA, he or she must first complete at least 150 college semester hours of coursework. Even if the job for which you are applying does not expressly state that a CPA certification is required, if you have yours you will have an advantage over other applicants who are not certified.

Emphasize Your Organizational Skills: In order to keep financial documents and records orderly and up-to-date, accountants must have superb organizational skills. Whether your interviewer specifically asks you about your organization propensities or never brings the topic up directly, they are almost certainly interested in the subject. When discussing your experience and skills, assure your interviewer that you are capable of keeping financial information and systems arranged in a systematic and orderly manner. If you have taken steps to improve previously messy filing systems while working for other employers, be sure to mention how your actions helped improve efficiency and record-keeping accuracy.

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Be a Strong Communicator: Accountants must be able to communicate clearly with clients and managers regarding complicated financial issues. They must also be capable of preparing detailed financial reports and may need to discuss those reports in meetings, conferences and on paper. To show that you have strong communication skills, mention any important financial reports you have prepared and presented either orally or on paper. If you have participated in any other important public speaking engagements, be sure to mention those as well, even if they are not directly related to accounting. Any experience that strongly illustrates your ability to communicate effectively is worth mentioning.

Ask About Advancement Opportunities: If you are applying for an entry-level position and are interested in working your way up to higher-level positions within the company, tactfully ask if the company offers advancement opportunities. When advancement opportunity inquiries are made with sincere interest and tactfulness, they can indicate that you have ambition and a strong work ethic. Asking this question also indicates that you plan to remain with the company and provide value for the long-term. Make it clear that you are willing to receive any continuing education and training necessary to work your way to a more advanced position.

Following these accounting interview tips can help you make a strong, positive impression during your accounting interview. If you ace your first interview, you increase your chances of being called back for a second interview and ultimately becoming the chosen candidate for the job.