5 top tips to ace your accounting job interview

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Fresh tips to put you ahead of the competition in your accounting job interview.

We’ve all heard these job interview tips: research the company, research what’s new in the industry, practise answering questions, prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewer, dress appropriately.

While putting those tips into practice in a job interview will help you make a good impression, the thing is, everyone knows them. So what else can you do to stand out from the competition? Learn the top 5 tips we present below, to supercharge your chances of acing your accounting job interview.

Ease your pre-interview nerves

There’s no doubt that job interviews can be nerve-wracking, because there’s a lot at stake. Enabling yourself to go into one feeling calm and confident will help you deliver a great interview on your part.

One thing that may help you is to remember that an interview should really be a conversation rather than a firing off of answers to questions. The interviewer is there to learn about you, and you’re there to learn about them. Don’t feel you have to save all your questions until the end – interject them when it’s appropriate and you’ll soon see your interview has taken on more of a conversational tone. And this may help you relax!

Tip No. 1: Research your interviewer

You’ve researched the company you’re interviewing with – great. Now have you researched your interviewer? There are two main reasons to do this:

  1. You can find out if this is the person you will be reporting to
  2. Your research can help you build a rapport

If you know the person that will be interviewing you will be your manager, then the interview presents you with an opportunity to see what this person is like: outgoing or more reserved? Does their personality match yours? Do you think you would like working with him or her? Remember to ask questions about his or her management style and see if it fits with a style that enables you to perform at your best.

If you have your interviewer’s first name and job title, you can research them on LinkedIn or other social media networks to learn a bit more about them. Maybe you’re both from the same hometown or have the same interests.

You can weave this information into your interview to help you establish a rapport with your interviewer – just don’t be stalkerish about it: “I saw on your Facebook profile that you’re a competitive swimmer …” If you’re a competitive swimmer, too, it would sound more like this: “I’m a competitive swimmer, and one skill I’ve picked up from that is consistency. I have to be consistent in my training in order to maintain my strength and endurance. At work, I have to be consistent in maintaining my knowledge of accounting standards so I can best serve clients.”

Don’t know the name of who will be interviewing you? Just ask whoever contacted you for the interview, and he or she should be able to help.

Gather your best work into a portfolio to show off at job interviews.

Tip No. 2: Present a portfolio of your best work

Gather samples of your best work, whether it’s charts, spreadsheets, financial reports, financial statements or other documents, and present them in a portfolio your interviewer can flip through or scroll and click through. Just make sure your portfolio doesn’t contain sensitive information!

This will help you stand out in that you’ll have something physical to present, rather than just the words you’re saying. Even better is if you have copies or a link you can leave with your interviewer.

It’s one thing to say you’ve completed X, Y and Z at your last job, it’s another to show the proof. You can pick out a work sample and take your interviewer through the process of how you completed that work. Talk about any challenges you experienced in the process and how you overcame them, too.

If you don’t have actual work samples to show, you can always gather positive feedback you have received: praise from your boss, a thank-you card from a client, certificates you’ve achieved, awards you have won – the point is it to have something to show that supports you as a first-choice job candidate.

Tip No. 3: Pay attention to your body language

Your body language can convey a lot to an interviewer, so pay attention to how you physically come across. Slouch or keep looking around the room and you may come across as if you don’t care. Fidget and you may appear nervous or distracted. Give a limp handshake and you may come across as lacking confidence.

This is not to say you should crush your interviewer’s hand or stare at them non-stop, but to be your best natural self. Maintain appropriate eye contact, and feel free to smile when it’s also appropriate.

Pro tip: Record yourself doing a practice interview in which you give sample answers and check out your body language.

Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer to rephrase or clarify any questions that don’t make sense to you.

Tip No. 4: Ask for clarification when you don’t understand

If your interviewer asks you a question that doesn’t make sense to you, please don’t hesitate to ask him or her to rephrase it. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand. Would you mind rephrasing that/clarifying what you mean, please?” is perfectly acceptable to ask, and it shows you’re engaged in the interview.

You won’t lose points asking for clarification. In fact, it’s an indication you pay attention to detail, which is an important quality for an accountant to have and demonstrate in a job interview.

And if your interviewer gets huffy because he or she has to repeat or rephrase the question, that’s not a reflection on you. If they would be your manager, take it as a sign you might want to think twice about working with this individual (and the firm overall).

Tip No. 5: Send a thank-you note after the interview

Sending a thank-you note after the interview is one more way to help you stand out, yet it’s surprising how few job candidates do this.

Sending a thank-you note via email is fine, and you should send one to whoever participated in the interview. Your note should thank the recipient for their time. You can also say you enjoyed meeting them and learning more about the company and the role, as well as restate your interest in the position.

And here’s the good part: this is also an opportunity where you can promote yourself one more time, by highlighting what makes you special and why they should hire you. Flaunt your time-management skills, or how you really know your way around a cash flow statement, accounts payable, accounts receivable, complex accounts, income statements, accounting software – wherever your skills and expertise really shine. Remember it’s a thank-you note, though, so keep it brief.

Preparing for a job interview will enable you to go into it feeling much more relaxed and confident.

Conclusion

So there you have it: 5 top tips to ace your accounting job interview.

Arm yourself with a portfolio, research on your interviewer, control of your body language, no hesitation in asking for clarifications and a reminder to send your interviewer(s) a thank-you note, and you’ll be well-positioned to sail through your interview like a pro.

Ready to try out your new-found tips in an actual interview? First, apply for an accounting or bookkeeping job at toajobs.com.ph – we’d love to receive your application!

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