I have several friends who work in finance, and each had to interview with an accounting firm before landing a stable and exciting job. These interviews were long and arduous. My friends — let’s call them Angela and Mike — had to interact with different people and role-play different situations. But a few things I remember Angela and Mike doing before their interviews were researching the company they were about to interview with, rehearsing answers to possible questions, and keeping a cool, calm, and collected attitude. By doing all of these in preparation for their interviews, they each landed a job — just like you will!
Before You Interview with an Accounting Firm, Research the Accounting Firm
Get to know the company as well as you can so that when you’re asked any questions, you’ll be prepared. You’ll also have a better understanding of the company’s and CEO’s goals and objectives. By knowing this information, you’re letting the company know you’re interested.
Ways to do this can include reading the company’s website, reading up on current management, and knowing who the CEO and other C-Suite leaders are. If the company has implemented certain projects or has created new accounting software, study up on this, too. Read about what it’s done and who created it. Be up-to-date with the latest news; read the company’s press releases. If the company has been ranked on any ''Best of'' lists won any awards, discover why the company received the awards or the ranking. This is not only a way for you to come to the interview well-prepared, but for you to be able to ask yourself: is this a company I want to work for? While researching, you may decide that the company isn’t for you. Or, you may research a company you never thought you’d be interested in and find it’s a perfect fit.
Before You Interview with an Accounting Firm, Remember That Practice Makes Perfect: Rehearsing Potential Interview Questions
Just like you would never walk on stage for a performance without rehearsing, you should never step into an interviewing room without having practiced. But what would you practice, you might ask.
When I was in college, my senior counselor gave me a list of a 100 frequently asked interview questions. They included:
- What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?
- What are your long- and short-term goals?
- Describe a situation where you’ve had to work with a difficult person, boss, coworker, etc. — how did you handle the situation?
- How do you work under pressure?
- Describe what your ideal manager is like.
- What is your biggest accomplishment, and why?
- Can you tell me about a time where you organized your work effectively in order to meet a deadline?
Other interview questions can be industry specific. According to an interview advice website, the following are some examples of specific accounting interview questions:
- You buy a $100 asset: $25 cash, $50 debt, and $25 new equity. Explain how the three financial statements (Is, BS, CFS) will change.
- How are the three financial statements related to each other?
- Name three ways in which the Income Statement and Balance Sheet are related.
After you’ve practiced and researched, there’s really only one thing left to do. Relax. Be confident that what you’ve gone over and what you’ve prepared is enough. Overanalyzing every question or every situation might cause you to tense up. If you get stuck during your interview, take a deep breath, ask them to repeat the question, and go from there.
By researching your potential accounting firm, rehearsing common accounting interview questions, and relaxing before the interview, you’ll be well on your way to getting hired after the interview.