While the requirements for accounting positions can vary based on scope and employer, hiring managers not only want a basic understanding of reporting of financial data, accounting principles, account management, budgets, relevant codes, laws and regulations, and accounting software apps—they also want problem solvers, critical thinkers and team players. That’s why candidates for accounting positions need to familiarize themselves with the most common interview questions in the field.
Preparing yourself these questions helps hiring managers get an idea of how you assess situations and solve problems. Here are five of some of the most common interview questions you can expect and a few tips on how to answer them.
Question 1: Work Objectives
“What work objectives did you set for this year, and what steps have you taken to ensure you will achieve them?”
This is a question intended to get an idea of your ability to plan and organize. Your answer should show how you set objectives, plan for them and prioritize to accomplish goals, all within a time frame. While keeping it brief, let the hiring manager know how you manage your schedule, and how you identify and allocate resources.
Question 2: Handling Problems
“How have you managed potential payment problems with your customers?”
This question provides insight to your ability to analyze issues and assess situations, and how to act appropriately under these circumstances. Using a specific example, your response should show you can pinpoint problems utilizing relevant info, including a capacity to break down and organize data, using it to identify cause-and-effect relationships.
Question 3: Conflict and Responsibility
“How did you react when someone else’s errors had a negative impact on your job?”
This is a tricky question. One important aspect of any interview is to avoid negativity, yet this question needs you to deal directly with a negative situation. In your response, stay away from finger-pointing and, using factual information, discuss how you accurately assessed the situation and identified a course of action using organizational resources.
Question 4: Error Control
“How do you control errors in your work?”
Looking for your attention to accuracy and detail, hiring managers need to see you are aware of and follow all aspects of every job and task, regardless of scope. Your answer should demonstrate that you set high standards for yourself and others. As always, try to use an example from your own performance.
Question 5: Career Motivation
“What motivated you to establish a career in accounting?”
A hiring manager will always try to understand your motivations. Hopefully, this is a question you shouldn’t need a lot of prepping to answer. Is accounting a tradition in your family? Did you find out at a young age you had an analytic propensity for numbers and record-keeping? As a teenager, were you doing your parents’ taxes?
Whatever your reasons, provide an engaging story that lets them know you see accounting as an important aspect of your life and any organization’s success.
When the most common interview questions are asked, be ready to supply convincing, practical examples from your past experience. Try to keep them relevant, and as often as you can, relate them to the position you’re applying for.
There is no “right” answer for interview questions. There are practical approaches and solutions, and hiring managers want to examine your sensibilities to determine your ability to function and succeed in their operations. So be ready to show them you have the right stuff to be an accountant and on their payroll.