Top 20 ultimate interview questions for qualified accountants

All based on very recent interview experiences! Note that competency based questions seem to be popular for mid-level interviews, hence a fair few of these are included. Not a definitive list as an interviewer can always ask something unexpected. But if you can have some excellent answers prepared for these questions, you should be on your way to being well prepared! 

  1. What do you know about our company? Obviously this one is going to come up in some format! Be prepared with some facts and figures, check out their latest financial statements and think of a few insightful questions which demonstrate that you have done your research. e.g I read in your financial statements about a new operating system and was wondering if this would have a direct impact on your department…
  2.  Can you give me an example of when you drove through change in your organisation? At mid-level, a person can often be asked this. The example you use could be a fairly simple one but it should always end with some clear benefits to the organisation you worked for at the time, ideally financial ones.
  3. Why are you the right person for this job? Use this question to effectively sing your own praises. Have three or four reasons ready, back them up with strong examples and link them to the requirements of the role.
  4. What were the more challenging questions that the auditors asked you during their audit? This has been thrown at me before, it could also be used as an answer for an example of a difficult technical situation (see below).
  5. Tell me about one of your weaknesses. Use something that is non-crucial to the role you are interviewing for and describe it as a point for development rather than a weakness. An example could be something that you have not yet had experience in but plan to learn in the future.
  6. Tell me about a time when something did not go according to plan. Always end on a positive. Aim to find an example that ends with you saving the day, so to speak! Make sure that it showcases your strengths and shows how you are able to overcome difficulties.
  7. Tell me about your biggest achievement or what you are most proud of to date? This does not necessarily have to be recent but anything that demonstrates how you added value to the organisation is good. What positive feedback did you get? Mention that too but be sure to mention why you got the praise.
  8. How would you explain something to a person who is not an accountant, give me an example? Choose something that shows how you modified your approach and perhaps modified your material for non-accountants. Show how your approach helped to achieve the desired result. 
  9. Give me an example of when you used your negotiating skills to influence the opinion of a colleague or stakeholder. As before for previous questions, make sure that you end on a positive and state what benefits it brought to the team or organisation.
  10. Can you give me an example of a technically challenging situation? Think of an example that is as high level as you can. What was the challenge, how did you overcome it, what was the result. Again find an example that demonstrates how great an accountant you are at the end of the story! 
  11. Can you give me an example of a challenging time at work and what you did? This could be dealing with a difficult person perhaps, or finding a way to adapt to a new system. Again make sure that you find an example that showcases your talents as an accountant and ends on a positive with you demonstrating your skills. 
  12. What are the key financials of [the type of company that you are interviewing for, e.g] an insurance company? This should not be too hard to answer if you have done your research, even looking through their financial statements and maybe one of their competitor’s if you have time should help you find this out.
  13. Can you tell me what this gap in your CV was? It is easy to forget what you were doing but make sure you check your CV as part of your interview preparation and have a good answer ready as to what you were doing e.g travelling for a couple of months in Morocco.
  14. Tell me about how you think you demonstrate our company’s values. I have been asked this question several times recently! Always look at their company’s values and have an example of how you can demonstrate each one. 
  15. You have described yourself as (a strong team player). Can you tell me about a time when you have needed to work as part of a team to achieve a goal? Make sure that the example you give shows what your role was in the team and what benefit you in particular brought to the team and to the department or organisation. e.g did you spot an error that could have brought about reputational damage?
  16. Tell me about a workplace system or process that you have improved. How did you do this? How did the changes benefit your organisation? Have an example where you can go into detail if needed. Give a clear mention to the ways it benefitted the organisation!
  17. Can you think of a time when you have had to deal with two conflicting priorities and explain how you decided which was most important? This is about demonstrating your time management, organisation, communication, prioritising skills. Make sure you choose an example with a positive outcome.
  18. Tell me about a time when you had to mentor someone. How did your approach benefit them? This would showcase your mentoring and possibly managerial potential. The example could include how they benefited and, as a consequence, how the organisation benefited too.
  19. How do you like to be managed? The interviewer asks this so that they can see what kind of person you are and whether you can adapt to different management styles so give an answer that shows you can work well with different types of managers, ideally with an example.
  20. Give me an example of when you got buy-in from senior management. The idea is for you to demonstrate your influencing or negotiating skills, and finding if you are able to do that with people who are more senior to you in the organisation. If you have not had much direct contact with senior management, you could use an example of when you passed a suggestion to your manager, or if you influenced someone in your team for an idea that they were not initially receptive to.

I hope that the above helps to make the interview preparation process easier and, ultimately, I hope that they help you get offered the job!

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