I imagine you have arrived at this page because you have an interview coming up for a job in accounting or finance. You are probably wondering what interview questions they will ask.
Indeed, the accounting and finance sector is highly competitive especially in the current economic environment here in the UK where many applicants chase each opening. If you have already got an interview then well done and if you are still looking, stay positive and continue with your search.
You will be successful and this article will help.
I will share with you a sample of the types of interview questions you will encounter in accounting and finance jobs whether in private practice or in a corporate environment.
Finance and Accounting Jobs Covered
In this article I list some of the most frequently asked accounting and finance interview questions and I detail how to answer so as to score highly. These will cover accounting and finance jobs at all levels including the following.
- Bookkeeping and cashier roles
- Part Qualified and Trainee Accountant
- Qualified Accountants
- Management, Financial and Project Accountants
- Finance Manager and Finance Director
- And many more
Accounting interviews can be complex with the interview questions reflecting the detailed nature of the work. They will be directed towards finding out how skilled you are and how adept you will be when carrying out your responsibilities.
Competencies Required for Accounting and Finance Job Interviews
Many interviews in the accounting and finance sector are now competency based and behavioural.
Questions will be structured so as to discover how your behaviour in a past activity can influence your performance in the job going forward.
These questions can be very tricky to answer however they can be mastered with some training and practice.
These accounting and finance interview questions can be very specific or can be very general however your answer will need to demonstrate a broad range of skills. This will be even more important the higher you progress on the career ladder.
While the job description and person specification will give you the exact skills required, you may find interview question exploring the following competencies:
- Numerical Ability
- Problem Solving
- Planning and Organising
- General Ledger and Computer Skills
- Attention to detail
- Ability to work to strict deadlines
For qualified accountants and senior managers competencies can include:
- Strategic and Operational Management
- Building Relationships
- Leadership and ability to manage a team
- Motivating and Developing Others
- Negotiation and Communication at Senior level
- Strategic Thinking
Perfect Competency STAR Answers: Know What To Say to Win Your Next Job
What to Expect in Your Accounting and Finance Interview
Your interview questions will vary depending on the employer, the level of job you are applying for, the amount of accounting experience you have, the recommended recruiting policy and the personal preference of the interviewer. We would expect them to cover the following key areas.
Training and Qualifications
You should expect questions exploring your accountancy training, study plans to become an accountant, qualifications and your understanding of accounting terminology and practice.
Skills and Experience
The interviewer will ask questions based on your experience as shown on your CV.
This relates to key skills required such as your ability to have good analytical and numerical skills, ability to work to tight deadlines, to demonstrate effective communication and ability to deliver quality and accurate output.
Personality and Motivation
Your reasons for applying or for choosing the accounting and finance sector and this employer, how you see your accountancy career developing and the steps you will take to develop your finance skills.
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Sample Interview Questions for Accountant and Finance Jobs
Take a moment to see how you would answer these questions?
Interview Question 1: ‘Tell me about the advantages and disadvantages of the different Accounting packages you have used recently.‘
Interview Question 2: ‘Describe a time when you had to build a collaborative relationship either within your department or outside in order to achieve a particular goal. What steps did you take to ensure this was a success?‘
Interview Question 3: ‘What do you know about recent IAS changes and to what extent have you been involved with their implementation in your organisation?’
Interview Question 4: ‘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.‘
Interview Question 5: ‘Give me an example of the different approaches you have used when persuading your team, colleagues or manager to agree with your views.‘
Interview Question 6: ‘Talk me through an example of how you have used data to improve your teams productivity.‘
Technical Accounting and Finance Interview Questions
You may be asked to complete tests such as numeric or psychometric tests. In addition, you may have a test of your accounting knowledge and this can be in the form of a multiple test or even a case study where provide a broad overview of a set of prepared accounts or financial problem.
Having said that it’s also possible that your interviewer may test your knowledge with some specific technical interview questions. The range of questions is impossible to predict however they are unlikely to ask you about something you have not been exposed to before. Sample technical accounting interview questions for example.
- Are you aware of recent tax changes and how they might affect your company?
- Can you describe for me your experience in preparing management accounts?
- Could you explain the different accounting packages you may have used recently and give me your opinion on which was most useful?
- What is your understanding of IFRS 17 and how have you incorporated this into your work?
Accounting and Finance Competency Based Questions
The interviewer will focus on questions that look for evidence of accountancy-related competencies. You could be asked to relate specific examples of when you have demonstrated the required competency.
Each specific competency will likely be explored with questioning. You can use the following examples to help formulate your own responses to such questions.
Planning and Organising
- Tell me about an example of a complex financial project you have handled with precise data analysis requirements and tight time constraints.
- How do you keep track of several on-going projects at once without overlooking deadlines?
- What work objectives have you set for this year and what steps are you taking to ensure you will achieve them?
- Do you keep track of regulations that may affect both your industry and your accounting position, and, if so, how?
- How have you monitored the performance of your team, or compared your own performance with that of colleagues?
- How would you go about deciding which tasks to give to which staff members?
Accounting interview questions will also focus on your ability to assess problems and arrive at logical solutions.
- Describe a recent difficult financial analysis problem you have had to deal with.
- Could you demonstrate a recent budget preparation, or explain how you would go about it.
- How would you manage potential payment problems with your customers?
Judgment and Decision Making
- What would you say has been the most significant decision you made at work this year?
- Tell me how you have reacted or would respond when someone else’s errors were having a knock-on adverse effect on your situation.
- Describe a situation where you have received instructions but were not in agreement, and how you handled the situation.
- Do you rely solely on your own judgement or mainly take guidance from others?
How to Answer Accounting Interview Questions
Success in answering interview questions lies in preparation, in anticipating the questions and preparing answers accordingly. Here are some useful guidelines for preparing answers to your accounting interview questions.
- Refresh your memory of Accounting Principles:
It is all too easy to forget some of the basics especially if you do not use them daily. Refresh your knowledge of the following and this will help when you are giving your answers:
- The principles of accountancy
- The principles of auditing
- The analysis and reporting of financial data
- The management of accounts
- Understanding budgets
- All IFRS
- Prepare examples which demonstrate the core skills required using the STAR Method
In addition to the competencies mentioned above, other skills required include Analytical ability, Numeracy, Teamwork, and Communication and you should prepare examples of situations where you demonstrated these skills successfully. In your answers, use correct structures for these competency type questions being very clear about the actions you took and the results you delivered.
The accounting profession, like law, is based on honesty and integrity, so you should also prepare examples which show your attitudes and ethics, maybe based on past experiences or hypothetical situations.
- Research recent changes and new legislation
Your answers will be expected to show up to date knowledge. Research recent changes to accounting principles, international financial reporting standards and ethical rules concerning accountants practice and obligations. Be aware of recent changes in legislation and how it affects the accounting profession as questions are often asked exploring your awareness of these.
- Research your prospective employer
Before getting to the interview you want to be fairly sure in your mind that this is a good company to work for by carrying out some research. This will also help at interview if you have some background knowledge of the company, including its standing and general modus operandi. The company’s website may have client newsletters, staff profiles, and other information to help.
How to Succeed in Your Accounting & Finance Interview
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