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6 Specialist Tips for your next Accounting or Finance Interview

 10th May 2022

With accountancy and finance candidates moving to a new role every 2-3 years either internally or to a new company, it pays to sharpen your interview skills.  

Whether you’ve got years of experience or are just starting out, interviews can be an intimidating prospect. If you’re looking to land your next accountancy or finance role, read our six tips that will give you a definite edge. 

Research 

It’s important to thoroughly research the company you are interviewing with. The more you know about the company, the more specific you can be about what skills you can bring to the job. 

For the accounting and finance industry, it is extremely important to know about the current financial climate of the company you’re interviewing for. Analyse the company’s accounts over a three to five year period and let this form some of the questions you ask in the interview. Don’t forget to find out if it’s been in the news lately, this will ensure you come across as informed and up to date with topical issues such as mergers or acquisitions. Additionally, keep up with the Financial Reporting Council, Financial Accounting Standards Board and International Accounting Standards Board, and other regulatory changes. 

You should have an overall view of the accountancy and finance industry and be able to discuss the key challenges and risks the sector faces over the coming years. If they try to throw curveball questions about recent news in the industry, you will be prepared. 

Let your CV tell the story 

Make sure your CV is concise, clearly showing your career progression with responsibilities and achievements highlighted. It’s important to include each promotion and not only your most recent role at any past or current employer as this shows career evolution to hiring managers.  

If you’re working in industry, it’s particularly important to provide a few lines about each company’s turnover, location, number of staff, and the type of work it does on your CV. This provides context to your experience and is particularly useful if you’ve worked for smaller or less well-known businesses. 

Lastly, list out all your credentials and expertise that might be linked to the role on your CV. Alongside any chartered accountancy qualifications, you should also include the technical knowledge you have, and experience with software and systems as this is increasingly important to hiring managers. 

Demonstrate your value 

What sets you apart from other candidates? What is it about this particular role, at this stage of your career, with this company in that sector, which appeals to you? Whilst there are many similarities and themes across distinct types of interviews, every job and company have its nuances so try to avoid having stock answers. Spend some time mapping out how your skills, experience, aspirations, and ambition match what the hiring company is looking for, the role outputs and for the new hire to deliver. 

Focus on your achievements and how they have had an impact on previous companies. Know all your unique selling points, you might have experience with specific software or a certain industry that is relevant to the business.  

When it comes to the accountancy and finance industry, roles have moved on from simply reporting on the past and managing the present, now it’s all about creating the future, and that’s why hiring managers look for candidates with a skill set that demonstrates a split between hard and soft skills. 

Prepare for interview questions 

Every job interview will vary, so you can’t prepare for all potential questions, and some may catch you off guard, but you can prepare for how you want to deliver your answers/examples. Study the job description and this will help you to determine the key skills and behaviours required – invariably, it will be these themes the hiring manager wishes to cover. 

In an accountancy and finance interview, you should prepare for technical competency questions. For example, you may need to show you can work with large datasets, your experience in financial forecasting or your understanding of the several types of IFRS.  

Show off your communication skills 

Being able to communicate is important in any job you apply for but, it’s increasingly important in an accountancy or finance interview. Accountancy has changed a lot over the years and it’s no longer about crunching numbers, hiring managers are keen to see how you work successfully with people outside your immediate team and communicate with other stakeholders using non-financial terms. 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. 

Ask the right questions  

Interviewers tend to be impressed by candidates with an enthusiastic attitude and those who have gone the extra mile to prepare. Ask insightful questions that underline your interest in the role and the company – this is also a fantastic way of highlighting your research and your awareness of the accountancy and finance sector. Ask questions that reveal a motivation to add value to the company and that convey you’re seriously considering the opportunity. 

For more in-depth career advice, get in touch with one of our experienced consultants here

Written by Nathalie Smyth.

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