5 expert tips for your next accounting job interview

Are you looking to make your next move in the accountancy industry? We’ve asked our accountancy experts for their top tips to help you shine in your next interview…  

If you’re looking to land your next accountancy role, preparing for your next interview can be a daunting process. 

To help you make sure the numbers are stacked in your favour, we’ve asked two of our accountancy experts for their advice…

Let your CV tell the story

Mark McGarry, finance commerce consultant in Robert Walters’ Sydney office, tells his candidates to make sure their CVs show their career progression. “One key thing candidates forget to include in their CVs is promotions. Instead of just saying ‘financial accountant’ for four years, put ‘junior accountant’ for two years and ‘financial accountant’ for two years. This will show hiring managers that you have succeeded in your previous roles and been rewarded.” 

Part of this CV storytelling should include detailing your own personal achievements in every role you’ve had. As he explains, “focusing on any process improvements you’ve implemented —such as reducing tax or introducing a new way of financial reporting — will quickly show hiring managers what you’re capable of and what you’d bring to the role.” 

Mark also reminds his applicants to list out all their credentials and expertise that might be linked to the role. “All relevant experience should be highlighted clearly on your CV,” he says. “Alongside any chartered accountancy qualifications, you should also include the technical knowledge you have, as experience with IT software and systems is increasingly important to hiring managers.”

Do your homework

Phuong Dang, senior commerce finance consultant in Robert Walters’ Vietnam office cannot emphasise the importance of research enough. “Start with reading the job description thoroughly and understand its requirements. After that, move on to research about the company – look into its profile, financial statements, its recent and future projects, as well as latest news,” she advises. “It’s also important to arm yourself with industry knowledge, such as macroeconomic trends, the competitors within the industry and their market shares, as well opportunities and risks.” 

To stand out during the interview, Phuong has some additional tips. “Do research on your interviewer using professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn. This will help you find common ground and build rapport, and allow you to stand out from the competition,” adds Phuong Dang. “If you have acquaintances in the company, ask them about the company culture so that you can have a better understanding of the organisation.” 

Prepare for accounting interview questions

There are two main types of questioning that candidates can expect in an accountancy interview, explains Mark: technical competency questions and psychometric behavioural questions. 

“When it comes to technical skills, you’ll need to show that you can work with large datasets and do complex reconciliations of the data included,” he says. “Or if, for example, the company is still going through IFRS implementations then you should expect questions on how they would attach costs and revenue to types of contracts or projects affected by the changes   .”

Phuong agrees and adds that candidates in Vietnam need to also have a good understanding of the key differences between the IFRS and the local Vietnamese Accounting System (VAS), as this will allow them to help their organisations follow compliance guidelines and make informed decisions.

Besides technical skills, companies now place equal importance on soft skills such as teamwork and leadership, often having assessments to determine if a candidate is a good fit for the company. “These may include online behavioural tests, case study presentations, and situational assessments,” says Phuong Dang. “To do well during these assessments, candidates need to showcase their communication skills and maturity levels. Practice will certainly help but nothing will beat actual experience, so try and gain a lot of exposure to different types of business situations in your current role.”

Show off your communication and consultation skills 

Being able to communicate is important in any job you apply for but, as Mark advises his applicants, in an accountancy role a hiring manager will want assurances that you are able to work successfully with people outside your immediate team and communicate with other stakeholders. 

“Being able to partner with other areas of the business and talk about accounts using non-financial terms is a key skill that you should look to highlight,” he says. “This ability is highly sought-after and often not seen across all candidates, so draw on any experience and expertise you have in this area.”

Phuong agrees, sharing that accounting is gradually moving towards a shared services model in Vietnam, with operational tasks increasingly becoming automated. “As such, accountants cannot simply rely on their traditional skills such as bookkeeping and reporting,” adds Phuong Dang. “In-house accounting and finance teams are now expected to step up to a more strategic role, and use their knowledge to collaborate across departments and provide advice to other functions such as sales, marketing and operations to help them drive their goals.” 

Demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role

In an interview setting, Mark reminds his candidates to focus solely on why they want the job. “Discussing the reasons why you want to leave your current position could lead to some red flags for the interviewer. Make sure you stay focused on the pull factors of the job that you are interviewing for instead.”

Sharing about your long-term goals with the company can showcase your interest in the role. “Based on your research and understanding of the job scope, you can share how the skills and experiences gained from this job would be relevant to your career goals in the long-term,” explains Phuong Dang. “There has to be a good balance between what you can offer the company and what the company can offer you. I would also advise to avoid asking about the salary during the interview as the hiring manager may misinterpret your motives.” 

Look for your next accounting role here or check out our career advice section for more interview tips.

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