If you’re preparing for an interview for your dream job in accountancy, there’s lots that you can do to prepare.
Take a good look through the interview tips section of our Candidates’ Hub and explore our downloadable case studies.
But the topic we’ve chosen to discuss in this article is the importance of preparing specific examples of your personal experience and situations you’ve encountered in your career with a view to moulding these experiences to demonstrate a point that you use in interview.
What challenges have you helped your clients overcome?
Let’s start with showcasing that you have an understanding of the impact of world news or trends on your clients in practice. A really common question that you’ll hear in a lot of interviews in accountancy, refers to this topic and what employers want to hear is that you have your finger on the pulse and are able to take a long-term view of issues that may be impacting your clients.
Perhaps you might have experience of supporting a client who has been experiencing problems with their supply chain due to the impacts of the pandemic. Or perhaps you might have a client who has been impacted indirectly by the sanctions placed on Russia. Without sharing specific details think about scenarios where you have helped support your client to adapt to issues that are beyond their control and ensure you can be agile with this scenario to ensure it can be used to answer a variety of questions.
What software packages are you familiar with?
This question is your opportunity to dazzle your employer with your IT skills and how quickly you learn.
Obviously be ready to list all of the software that you know your way around, but also be ready to share an experience where you’ve had to get to grips with a new system quickly and explain how you did so and why you will be ready to do so again.
Have you ever improved a system or process in practice?
This is your opportunity to showcase that you’re able to see the wood from the trees and might offer your potential new employer a fresh pair of eyes.
Be ready with an example of a time when you’ve either made suggestions about how a system could be improved, or even better, got stuck in and improved it yourself.
And it’s important to state here (and this is relevant to all interview questions), don’t be afraid to share a time when you didn’t get things quite right. Your interviewer will value your honesty and the important thing is that you showcase how you recovered from failure and used it as a learning experience.
Have you ever helped a firm to reduce costs or increase turnover?
This is your opportunity to showcase that, alongside your technical skill and qualifications, you have a wider understanding of the commercial side of practice. If you’re applying for a leadership role this is a really important opportunity to showcase your strategic vision too so be ready with a case study of a time when you made a difference to productivity and profitability.
Tell us about your experiences improving challenging relationships?
Accountants can be analytical and data driven and the risk to an employer is that these kinds of personalities produce accurate sets of accounts but they don’t always offer good customer service or relationship management.
So, here you’ll need to be ready to showcase a time when you managed potential conflict to a good outcome. Show your interviewers that you possess the emotional intelligence required to nurture the junior team and to enhance relationships with your clients.
Tell us how you respond to pressure?
This is where you can showcase your time management, multi-tasking, delegation and organisational skills. Your interviewers will want to hear examples of times when you were up against it but made things work. They’ll want you to showcase a great work ethic but also the ability to escalate or fix an issue that is at risk of not being completed on time.
‘Just like when you crammed for your exams back at school, preparing for interview should involve putting together a few brilliant examples of when you’ve overcome challenges, learned from your mistakes, or really smashed something out of the park as an accountant. Be ready with these case studies of experience and ready to adapt them to suit the question. Every employer will be blown away by your readiness to answer their questions and they’ll be impressed that you’re well prepared. ‘
Garry Howling, MD
For those of you ready to impress at interview, there’s honestly never been a better time to reach out for our support in your search for a brilliant new job. Take a look at our jobs board today to see what’s currently on offer or upload your CV and we’ll be in touch to discuss your personal job search very soon.