How would you explain a complex accounting concept to someone who isn’t as familiar with the field or the terminology?
In many cases, accounting professionals need to convey complex concepts to stakeholders that don’t work in accounting. As a result, the hiring manager wants to know that you can do so effectively.
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Like most interviews, accounting interview questions start with getting to know each other. You’ll likely get an overview of the role and the company and some details about the interviewer’s background in their position.
The “tell me about yourself” question may seem daunting, but preparing three to five key points beforehand can help. The interviewer will want to know your educational background, relevant work experience, and any significant accomplishments you’ve had along the way.
This question also gives you space to explain why you are interested in accounting and why you want to work for that company specifically.
Do You Have Your CPA?
The Certified Public Accountant license is the ultimate certification, and it shows commitment to the profession. If you have your CPA, it will make you stand out against the competition. However, there are many other certifications in accounting that you could pursue—having a CPA isn’t the only way.
Tell Me About Your Background.
This might feel like a broad or vague question, but here recruiters want to understand the depth of your accounting experience, Robbins says, as well as how you think and talk about your career trajectory. If you’re interviewing for a tax role, what type of returns have you worked on? If audit, what was the size of your client and industry? What type of projects have you worked on?
How to Answer
Don’t tell your whole life story; briefly summarize your career and the work that you’ve done at a high level. The recruiter will most likely ask follow-up questions based on what you share in your response. Think about using stories of how you gained an interest in the field and what led you to the roles you pursued. This is also a great opportunity to share your future goals and further express your interest in the company. If there was something specific about the company or position that caught your attention, say what it was! Share how your prior experience has prepared you for the position you’re interviewing for. Remember, it’s all about relevance and connecting the dots.
“I’ve always had a love for numbers and really enjoyed my accounting courses in college so I’ve known this was the path for me since I was young. I started my career in public accounting with a Big Four firm in audit. Audit allowed me the opportunity to work with clients of all sizes and industries. I focused on testing controls, writing audit reports, and overseeing the work of my audit team. I also trained our new hires and interns. I got a lot of experience auditing complex accounts such as derivatives and statement of cash flow. What I’ve enjoyed most throughout the course of my career is building relationships with my clients and helping them understand their financials better. I also am up to date on my CPA license and recently obtained my Masters in Accounting, and I’m looking for a position that will allow me to use my experience auditing financial statements to have a hand in creating financial statements.”