The art of the question: interview tips for newly qualified accountants

The art of the question: interview tips for newly qualified accountants

Morgan McKinley recruitment consultant Shamiso Chirimuuta explains how the key to a successful interview lies in a question

After the excitement of reaching full qualification, deciding on a career path and securing your first interview request, the daunting reality of preparing for an interview can be quite overwhelming. How can you nail this interview?

The key to mastering your first interview is to master the art of the question. This involves both answering and asking questions, with the strategic precision and impressive eloquence that comes from preparation and refinement. Grasping this will allow you to highlight your assets and showcase your knowledge without it sounding rehearsed.

There are a plethora of questions you may be asked, and they largely fall under two basic categories; why you are suitable for the role and why you want the role. Once you have learned how to answer these, you will be well equipped to answer any variation with confidence.

Why are you suitable for the role?

This category often takes the form of competency-based questions. These questions assess how you approach tasks and challenges by drawing on your use of specific skills in certain scenarios. Common examples include:

“Describe a situation when others did not respond to you in a positive way.”

“Describe a situation when you have made a difficult decision that involved severe consequences.”

“Give an example of how you have used your knowledge to improve a process.”

The first rule of mastering the competency question is providing an adequate example. No matter how the question is phrased, ensure that you can illustrate your answers. It is not enough to just describe your attributes; you will have to give demonstrative examples.

As a newly qualified accountant, you will also have to demonstrate your technical knowledge, so it is best to do some revision ahead of your interview. Brush up on different reporting standards and the difference between them, particularly your most recently used.

When preparing for these sorts of questions try and keep answers as positive as possible. Even if the scenario is difficult, or you are describing a particular weakness, showcase your proactivity in taking responsibility for faults and offering solutions.

Why do you want the role?

This is the time to emphasise the qualities you know the employers are looking for, and showcase your affinity for the company. Thorough research of the company and the role will give your answers good grounding and present you as committed to becoming a productive and proactive employee.

Questions in this category are typically to the point; “why do you want to work for us?”. However, they can be disguised, catching candidates out: “do you have any questions for me?”

Asking Questions:

Asking questions is your opportunity to further showcase the extent of your research and prove to the interviewer that you have been engaged and actively listening. It is a good idea to research the company’s recent financial statements and the overall structure of the business. You can use this kind of research to anchor your questions; impressing the interviewer with your knowledge while gaining valuable insight into the company.

No interview will go well unless you pair your preparation with engaging delivery on the day. How you present yourself is just as important as what you say, so make sure to consider body language and interview etiquette.

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