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Accounting Interview Questions

A job interview is one of the most important phases of the job search process. An accounting candidate’s resume and cover letter are simply tools to get them to the interviewing stage. The interview is their opportunity to convince an employer that they are the right person for the job. As an employer it is your job to evaluate the match between the job you have to offer and the candidate’s skills and interests.

Developing a set of interview questions can be tough. As the person conducting the interview, you want to be fair and ask complete questions that provide insight into the candidate and their future performance. While some blogs would have you focus time on “trick” or “killer” questions that are deep and thought provoking, I find it best to ask questions that give a potential candidate the chance to communicate information about their experience and abilities. The following are the top seven questions that I use when interviewing accounting candidates:

  1. What do you consider to be the biggest challenge facing the accounting profession today?

  2. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of different accounting packages you have used.

  3. Describe an accounting process that you have developed or sought to improve.

  4. Describe a time when you helped to reduce costs at a previous accounting job.

  5. Describe a time when you had to use numerical data or a graph to convince a manager.

  6. Describe a time when you had to work exceptionally hard to provide great service to a customer or client. What did you do and what was the outcome?

  7. Describe a time when you had to explain a complex accounting issue to someone with without an accounting background. How did you help your audience understand the situation?

Interviewing is about finding the right candidate for a position. Proper questions reveal the most promising candidate. Interviewing is simply a matching game to see which candidate is the best fit for the position. I hope these questions help you to find the right accounting candidate for your open position.

Accounting Interview Questions

Hiring Strong for Temps in 2014

The hiring outlook for 2014 is best described as cautiously optimistic. Citing the debt issues in Washington, a majority of employers are reporting a “wait and see” attitude toward expanding their staff. This is similar to the employee outlook from January 2013. The recently released CareerBuilder 2014 Hiring Forecast reports that:

While things look a bit tepid for full-time, permanent positions, things are a bit warmer for temporary and contract workers:

The rise in temporary worker hires may be a smart business move, insulating employers in a volatile economy. The U.S. has more temp workers than ever, a little over three million according to the US Labor Department. Nationally, 2% of the workforce is classified as temporary workers.

With 1 in 10 workers finding employment with an agency, now is the time for both employers and candidates to build a positive relationship with a staffing resource. If you have not worked with a staffing agency before I encourage you to read SNI’s Chairman & Chief Executive Officer’s blog: The Value of Staffing Agency Recruiters. It provides some great information on how working with a staffing agency might be the best career move you’ll ever make.

Hiring Strong for Temps in 2014

Internships are Important

Lately, I have noticed the internships have been getting a bit of a bad rap. Students view them as “working for little or no money,” and only envision themselves fetching coffee and making copies. It’s important not to be so short sighted. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that: 60% of paid interns and 37% of unpaid interns are offered a job at the conclusion of their internships. In industries like finance and accounting, where competition for positions can be fierce, an internship is a great way to get a competitive edge. But, internships deliver much more. The following are five reasons why college students and graduates should consider completing an internship.

  1. It’s a Career “Test Drive”
    Studying a discipline in college is not the same as working in the industry. Why wait until your degree is completed before you find out what working in your field is really like? An internship gives you a great opportunity to experience post-graduation employment. It can also provide insights into specific areas of study to pursue your final year or two of school. This can help increase your job satisfaction after graduation and make you more marketable.

  2. It’s a “Proving Ground”
    Training new employees is expensive and employers want to make sure they make a good investment. A candidate who has completed a successful internship has gained a few career-related skills and has demonstrated a degree of reliability in, and interest in, the profession. Thus, making you a more securement investment than other candidates.

  3. It’s a “Resume Enhancement”
    It’s the old adage: you can’t get a job without experience and you can’t get experience without a job. You can break this cycle is with an internship. With an internship you’ll gain hands-on experiences that you can detail on your resume and cover letters.

  4. It’s a “Network Builder”
    Interning gives you the perfect opportunity to make connections with professionals in your field and establish relationships. During and after your internship, you can leverage these relationships to learn about opportunities and market yourself to potential employers.

  5. It’s a “Foot in the Door”
    Many employers use internships as extended interviews for full time employment. Some hire new graduates almost exclusively from their internship pool. What better way for them to get to know you and like your work than to “try you out?” If they do, you’ll have a definite advantage over an unknown applicant.

With summer only a few months away, now is the perfect time for college and graduates students to explore and secure an internship.

Internships are Important

Interview Preparation Tips

Congratulations! You just received a call and have been invited to interview for your dream job. You’ve probably worked hard to get to this point in the job hunting process but, the work is not over yet. You need to invest some time to make the most of this opportunity.

There is a common misperception that candidates don’t really need to prepare for an interview. After all, the employer has selected to talk to you based on your resume and experience. Don’t be fooled. Interviewing is still part of the competitive job process. You need to do your best during the interview to stand out from other candidates and secure the position.

Luckily, job interviews are not a completely unpredictable process. There are two key steps that you can take to ensure that you are prepared for whatever questions come your way.

Learn About Your Future Employer
Showing an employer that you are familiar with their business demonstrates that you have a legitimate interest in the position. Do your homework before arriving for an interview. Check out the company website for information about products and services. Review the news section for the latest transactions, deals and product releases. The more you know about the company the less time the interviewer will spend educating you. This leaves more time for a discussion about you, your skills and experience.

Also, take time to look up the person interviewing you on LinkedIn. This will give you a little background on the person you are meeting with and their career and tenure at the company. Employers are impressed when candidates can work information gained in the research process into the interview.

Study the Job Description
It always surprises me how few candidates take the time to study and really learn about the job for which they are applying. When a job description or summary is provided, it is important to study it. Make sure you understand exactly what the position entails. And, if you don’t know what something means - look it up. This could provide insight into company specific terms and processes.

Also, spend some time studying the position qualifications and take time to document how your skills and experience line up. This will help you anticipate and have a response to potential interview questions. It will also give you talking points should you be asked an open-ended question like: “Explain why you think you are a good fit for this position.” If there are areas in the job description or required skills that you don’t have experience with do not be concerned. For example, you can acknowledge that you don’t know a specific software package and then share that you know three packages that are similar and that you are a fast learner. In reality, very few candidates are a perfect match for a position. By studying the position prior to the interview you can showcase where you have skills and experience as well as demonstrate an understanding of what is required.

Going into an interview with a good understanding of both the company and the position will give you both confidence and a competitive edge over those that don’t take the time to do their homework.

Interview Preparation Tips