- Why did you select accounting as your profession?
Why do you want to become an accountant, why did you choose this career path or why accountancy are common questions an interviewer will use to start off an interview. They’re pretty straightforward questions that require straightward answers, but don’t underestimate their importance.
Interviewers want to know your motive for pursuing a career in accounting, and more importantly why you’re interested in the position. Being an accountant can be routine, monotonous, and sometimes even boring–you need to communicate that you chose this career path because you love accounting.
When answering this question, don’t talk about your past. “I became an accountant because it’s the only thing I could do with a degree in accounting”, is a bad answer. “I became an accountant because I thought it would be stable career path”, while honest, isn’t going set you apart from other job candidates. In stead, focus your answer on the future. Talk about your career goals, your motivation, and your skills.
I love working with numbers–always have. To help a corporation identify cost cutting measures they hadn’t previously discovered, developing tax strategies, or performing sensitivity analysis to support revenue projects and forcasts is thrilling to me.
- Why do you want to work for our company?
This is a pretty common question that any job-seeker should expect during an initial interview. It’s also a very important question that deserves a well thoughtout answer. The answer you give could make or break your chances of landing the job. Many job-seeker submit their resume to every company that has an open accounting position. They send out hundreds of resumes a week hoping to land an interview–and employers know this. What employers want to know is that you’re geniunely interested in their company, as well as the best candidate for the position.
Business owners typically think their company is unique–even the best. Why shouldn’t they? They’ve invested sweat, heart ache, years of late nights, time investment, and often their entire savings to see it grow and blossom. Even if their company isn’t the best, if you really wan the job, you need to treat it as if it is. Your answer to this question needs to demonstrate that you recognize they’re unique, even special, and that you’re not just another run-of-the-mill candidate looking for any available job.
I’ve been following you’re company for a long time. I’ve always been impressed with your philosophy of honesty and integrity over everything else. When John (company contact) told me a position for an experienced tax accountant had opened up I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I believe I can help you solve many of tax issues you’re currently facing and would look forward to joining your team.
- How do you feel about creative accounting?
There are two types of accountants. Those that follow their job description to the word, and nothing more, and those who go the extra mile to apply their knowledge of financial accounting, tax laws, legal loop holes, and financial reporting to find creative solutions for cutting costs, reducing expenses, lowering taxes, and finding inexpensive financing. Hands down, employers prefer the second type.
Employers want creative accountants–accountants that will go above and beyond the “traditional” role of record keeping and financial reporting, and bring added value to the company. Employers want creative accountants, accountants who use creative accounting to save money and find new opportunities for the company.
In answering this question, your goal is two fold. First, you want to demonstrate that you are a creative accountant. Second, you want to demonstrate that although you’re a creative accountant, you’d never do anything illegal, dishonest or that would compromize the reputation of the company.
In my book, a good accountant is a creative accountant. You could hire any number of professionals to take care of bookkeeping and generate financial reports. However, a good accountant is able to find ways to reduce expenses, restructure debt, find legal loop holes in the system, and improve efficiency. A good accountant knows how to play the game without compromising their integrity or the reputation of the company they work for. That’s the type of accountant I am.
- Tell me about time when you reduced costs for a previous employer?
Accountants working for companies have several duties. They track expenditures, keep records, prepare taxes, and generate financial reports. However, they also have another responsibility–reduce costs whenever and wherever they can. In fact, some corporations hiring “cost accountants” whose entire professional existence is dedicated to analyzing, tracking and reducing costs–as well as maximizing savings.
Even if you’re not hired as a cost accountant per se, all good accountants are expected to reduce costs and minimize expenses for their employers. We recommend that anyone interviewing for an accounting position have at least one example of where they’ve been able to use their skill or expertise to reduce costs. If you’re recent college grad, find a situation as an intern, part-time employee, or member of an academic case study where you were able to help reduce costs.
The following is a sample answer to this question from a recent accounting graduate.
I haven’t had much experience reducing cost for corporations, but I have worked on several high profile case studies where cost reduction was a key element of the financial strategy. In a recent case study that dealt with a struggling KFC franchise I was able to identify several cost reducing strategies that helped minimize expenses, reduce equipment financing costs, and decrease the overall burden of the companies debt through restructuring.
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