Hey guys welcome to this article, today we’re talking about five frequently asked questions in accounting job interviews for entry-level positions. Entry-level positions are those that require zero to two years of experience so this could be somebody who’s fresh out of college or maybe just an internship or maybe have like one year of experience.
In this article, I’m going to give you the secret sauce or the things that I hear as a hiring manager from a candidate that makes me think right away that this is a person that I want to hire and this is a person that I want to work with. So this is what we’re going to cover in today’s article.
The way I want to do this is I’m going to cover the questions from one to five from the easiest question to the most tricky question toward the end and for each question I’m going to give you the standard answer that typically a hiring manager would want to hear but also I’m gonna give you that secret sauce or that extra something that when I hear as a hiring manager I immediately think that this is somebody I wanna hire, This is somebody I wanna work with and also at the end of this article I’m gonna give you four keywords or four things that you want to make sure you’re saying during the interview as a candidate, that will make the hiring manager immediately realize that this is somebody that they want to hire immediately.
Question number #1
This is probably the easiest of the five questions, the question goes
What qualities make a good accountant?
Basically, the hiring manager when they ask this question they’re looking for certain keywords, certain things that they have to hear in order for them to feel comfortable about the person. They’re interviewing and some of the keywords that you should be saying are
So obviously as an accountant, you’ll be juggling many tasks and many different files of different formats you know like excel files pdf files also working with accounting software as well so you need to be somebody who’s detail-oriented in order to be a good accountant. The second thing you should be mentioning is being
Objectivity is a great thing to have as an accountant because objectivity means that you’re basing your opinion on facts or data and not just on your personal opinion. Basically, you need to be mentioning objectivity or being objective as a quality. The other thing you should be mentioning is
Honesty or being honest:
And obviously, honesty is needed for every career, not just accounting but it becomes crucially important with accounting because you need to be able to hire somebody, when they make a mistake they’ll own up to it and say it so that you can fix the situation quickly. So honesty is another quality you should be mentioning and finally you should be mentioning is
Self-review is an important quality for accountants. In general it’s also important but for an accountant is very important because you need to be able to review your work before you give it to your manager. When you have a task to complete you need to be able to do it and then review it critically for spelling mistakes, numerical mistakes, and the actual logic of the work to make sure that it’s sound, and then once you’ve reviewed it you give it to your manager but also for this question if you really want to impress the hiring manager you want to stress on another quality which is it’s somebody who wants to help management by providing useful information, help management to run the business and once the hiring manager realized that you can make the connection between the accounting function and running the business that will trigger another light bulb in their head to realize that this is somebody who’s mature, this is somebody who understands that business is run on the information provided by accounting and so this is another quality you want to mention. To summarize detail-oriented objective honest self-review and someone who wants to help run the business by providing useful information.
Question number #2
The question goes
How has your education prepare you for a career in accounting?
And basically with this question for me as a hiring manager what I’m trying to guess is that the ability for somebody to connect between the concepts that they studied in school, the hard concepts of accounting in school, and real life. So basically I want to hear that you’re able to draw from the things that you studied in school and bring that to real life. There are certain key phrases that when I hear make me feel more comfortable and one of these phrases is that you learned an accounting to summarize the business transactions into financial statements to help run the business. This is one thing summarizing the business activity into financial statements.
The second thing is that that you learn the five basic principles of accounting and the five basic principles of accounting are something that you want to brush up on and remember for the interview those five basic principles of accounting are
(#1) Revenue recognition: This basically means which period to recognize the revenue based on a contract with the customer.
(#2) Historical cost: Historical cost means you record your expenses and assets at their historical costs.
(#3) Matching principle: Matching principle typically means matching revenue with expenses in a particular period. If you have revenue you need to be recording its costs of revenue and expenses in the same period.
(#4) Full disclosure: This meaning you are disclosing all the information on the financial statements including footnotes to the financial statements.
(#5) Objectivity: Objectivity means that you are recording transactions on the books under financial statements based on evidence not based on what you think is should be booked. It should be booked on a calculation a memo an invoice or evidence to support that transaction.
These are the five basic principles of accounting really helpful to mention in a job interview at any level not just entry-level but these are always good to know.
The third thing you want to say for that question is double-entry accounting. You want to mention that you learn debits and credits and you know how to record your debits and credits for business transactions.
Question number #3
The question goes
What ERP programs have you used in the past?
ERP stands for enterprise resource planning and basically, it’s a fancy expression for saying the accounting software that you’re using and this could be anywhere from QuickBooks for smaller companies, maybe Netsuite for slightly bigger companies, all the way up to SAP for really big companies and basically what the interviewer is looking for here is that if you’re fresh out of college you obviously haven’t used any ERP in the past.
Basically, you just want to say that you’re aware of ERP and what it is what it does and that you at least have done maybe some research online, maybe have watched a demo or two on youtube on QuickBooks or a NetSuite. Ideally, you want to research what this company is using as far as an accounting package and do some research on youtube to learn a little bit more about that ERP system. So basically if you haven’t used any you should say that but you should also say that you have done some research.
If you’ve used it in the past just talk about it briefly, talk about the functions that you’ve used in the program like accounts payable, accounts receivable, applying cash, and all that kind of stuff and that’s question number three.
Question number #4
and the question goes
How do you plan a large project to meet a deadline?
Basically, this question here when I ask this question I’m trying to guess the candidate’s ability to be organized. You know being organized is crucial in accounting and so basically what I’m looking for here is somebody who tells me how they manage to get to a deadline.
What you can do is, if you’re fresh out of school you can mention how you met a deadline for a project big project for school and basically what I want to hear is that you want to work backward from a deadline and establish milestones and then for these milestones you can create a checklist to meet each milestone to meet the objective of each milestone, and then ideally what you want to say that will trigger in my head that you are the right candidate is if you say that you want to leave some time towards the end of the project for review. You want to make sure that you’re reviewing your work before you submit it and so you leave a little cushion toward the end to reveal your work.
So that’s it basically you want to say that you want to work backward from a deadline create milestones, for each milestone create a checklist of all the things that need to happen for this milestone to be achieved and that you leave some time toward the end for review to complete the project and that’s question number four.
Question number #5
This is probably the trickiest question out of all of these and you’ll see why
Where do you see yourself in five years and in 10 years?
and basically when I ask this question as a hiring manager what I’m looking for is your ability to express yourself and be ambitious you could say that in five years I’d like to be a junior controller and then in 10 years I’d like to be a senior controller or a similar position but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to learn on the job and grow professionally to meet these ambitions.
For me, this would be the kind of answer I’m looking for because it combines your ambition with being humble. You want to show that you’re ambitious and hungry to grow in your career but also you’re humble and you realize that you have a lot to learn and grow professionally and that’s question number five.
As I promised you at the beginning of the article I’m going to give you four key phrases that you want to make 100% sure you’re mentioning during the job interview that when I hear as a hiring manager those key phrases I immediately think that this is somebody that I want to work with and those key phrases are:
Key Phrase #1
That you want to support management with information to be able to run the business. You want to show the hiring manager that you understand that accounting is about providing information to management to run the business, so supporting the business with the right information is a key phrase.
Key Phrase #2
Self-review, you want to mention the phrase or the expression self-review because basically, that shows the hiring manager that you’re someone who’s gonna be double-checking their work and not just giving any work to their manager but correct and work that has been checked and reviewed. So self-review is another key phrase that you want to make sure you mention.
Key Phrase #3
You want to mention is checklist and basically, as a hiring manager when I hear somebody that I’m interviewing that they work with checklist basically I will realize immediately that they are organized, and being organized is key to working in accounting. Making checklists is something that is a quality that I look for that someone always works with checklists. Make sure to mention the keyword checklist in the interview keyword.
Key Phrase #4
You wanna mention that you are a fast learner. This is assumed that no one is really interested in hiring somebody who’s going to be slow and learning. You want to mention a fast learner because that will concrete the idea in the interviewer’s head that you’re somebody who’s committed to learning on the job and learning fast. So you want to make sure to mention these four keywords or key phrases during your accounting job interview and that’s it for this article. If you want to give me some ideas for future articles to make use of the comment section below.