Accountancy & Financial Management

5 Key Tips to Handle Accounting Interviews

Solid preparation can make the difference when you’re interviewing for accounting jobs. Here are our tips on how you can convince recruiters that you’re the best person for the role!
Jevitha Muthusamy
Editorial Writer
5 Key Tips to Handle Accounting Interviews

Do your homework

Before the interview, spend some time making sure you have all your key talking points at your fingertips. Some things to focus on include:

  • Revisit your research of the company. Look up recent news articles or press releases about the company to get an idea of their current clients or recent developments.
  • Review key accounting concepts relevant to the role and be sure you can explain them to laypeople. For example, how do you evaluate a company’s financial health? What do you know about international financial reporting standards? What are the factors to take into account in a risk assessment?
  • Prepare a variety of examples where you have shown certain skills and competencies. Make sure they come from different areas of your life, not just from university.
  • Accountancy firms will have different selection criteria for each type of role. Study the criteria and think about obvious questions targeting those criteria that are bound to come up. However, avoid sounding as though you have rehearsed your answers.

Make a good first impression

Accounting employers will be looking to evaluate your professionalism – whether they can picture putting you in front of a client. You can demonstrate this to them by making a good first impression on the interview day. 

  • Dress smartly and neatly in formal wear, be business-like, and do your best to look the part.
  • Check the address and travel time beforehand and do your best to arrive at least 15 to 30 minutes before the scheduled interview time.
  • Be polite and courteous with anyone you meet at the employer’s offices. Recruiters often ask receptionists about the pre-interview behaviour of candidates.
  • Smile and give a nice firm handshake with direct eye contact as soon as you are introduced to your interviewer(s).
  • Be prepared to make some small talk with your interviewers. Being able to break the ice is a key part of client-facing skills. You don’t want to freeze up or give one-word responses to their attempts at getting to know you.

Show genuine interest in the job

During the interview, it's important to tailor your responses to the specific job and company you are applying for. Customising your responses shows interviewers that are genuinely interested in the position and have given sufficient thought to why you want this job.

Here are a few ways to demonstrate your interest during the interview:

  • Relate your past experiences and skills to the specific responsibilities and requirements of the job. Highlight how your skills and experience align with the company's mission, values, and goals.
  • Be prepared to explain why you’re choosing this particular employer. For instance, why do you want to work for this specific Big Four firm? Or why are you choosing a smaller accounting employer over a larger one? 
  • Don’t dismiss a past experience because it had nothing to do with accountancy. Instead, pull out the skills you gained from it. Working at a cafe, for example, can develop your communication and customer service skills. 
  • Draw on activities you have been involved in to show you have a sustained interest in the accounting or finance sector. (e.g. online trading, finance societies at university, entrepreneurial ideas, case study competitions by accounting firms, etc.)
  • Show that you have a convincing motivation to join the accountancy sector. The employer may invest a lot of money and time in your training and qualifications, so recruiters will want to see that you’ll stick with this line of work.
  • Show that you know what accounting work truly involves. Recruiters don’t expect in-depth knowledge, but a working knowledge of the basics will add to your favor. For example, if you’re applying for an audit role, show that you understand that you’ll be working with different businesses and that communication skills will be essential.

Have a conversation with your interviewers

An interview is not just a one-way Q&A session, it's a conversation between you and the interviewer. Treat it as an opportunity to build a connection while also evaluating whether the job truly is the right fit for you.

Here are a few ways to get the most out of this process:

  • Ask questions about industry developments, such as how the company is responding to a recent trend, or how they’re trying to position themselves against a competitor. This shows interviewers that you can think critically about business topics.
  • Clarify as much as you can about indirect staff benefits such as study leave allowances, the kind of training provided, or other such perks. 
  • Ask interviewers questions about their own personal career journey through the company.
  • If possible, try to get a sense of the type of people you’ll be working with, or the company’s leadership and management style. This will help with your decision-making process.  

Follow up after the interview 

Following up after the interview is an important step that can help you stand out from other candidates. It reinforces your stated interest in the position and the company, and it gives you an opportunity to reiterate your enthusiasm for the role.

  • Send a thank-you text or email to the interviewer(s) within 24 hours of the interview. This can be a simple note expressing your gratitude for the opportunity to interview and your continued interest in the position.
  • If you can, mention specific points of the conversation that you found interesting or relevant to your interests and career goals.
  • Ask about the next steps in the hiring process and the timeline for a decision.