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Interested in a Career in Accounting? Here are Tips for Acing the Interview Process

February 8th, 2023

Interviews can be overwhelming. You only have a short amount of time to make a stellar first impression, showcase your skills, and learn as much about the position and company as possible.

While there are many interview tips that apply across all or most industries, it’s important to be aware that not all industries are the same and you may need to take additional steps depending on the career you are interviewing for.

We sat down with Recruiting Specialist, Rachel Pasternak, to discuss important skills for the industry, tips for acing the interview process, and more!

Accounting Industry Skills

Before you can ace the interview, it’s important to understand the most critical skills needed in the industry. As an accountant, you will find yourself interacting with clients, facing multiple deadlines, and working busy seasons – these situations require specific skillsets.

First and foremost, possessing Excel skills prior to working within the accounting industry is crucial. While complete training for specific accounting software is provided by TBG, Rachel shared that, “advanced Excel skills could potentially open up opportunities and even allow you to work on different assignments that you otherwise would not be on.” She furthered, “Don’t hesitate to take a refresher class or two on Excel before applying or interviewing for an accounting position.”

Another important skill for working within the accounting industry is time management. As an accountant, you will oftentimes be working on several client projects and have to juggle multiple deadlines. Managing these deadlines is crucial to your success as an accountant. Rachel added, “it’s not just the work expectations and deadlines that must be managed; it’s the work deadlines in combination with commitments outside of the office.”

Lastly, one skill that is noticed and rewarded within the accounting industry is professionalism. “Take advantage of opportunities to attend networking events, etiquette dinners, or any other events that may help you polish the way you present yourself in a professional manner,” said Rachel.

Before interviewing for your accounting internship or job, ask yourself if you possess the above skills. Are you able to discuss these skills if asked? Are there any skills you can brush up on the meantime?

Accounting Industry Interview Tips

Once you’ve taken inventory of your skills, it’s a good idea to brush up on the interview process. Here are some tips to keep in mind for before, during, and after your accounting industry interview to ensure you ace it!

1. Ask Specific Questions

    One of the most common interview tips across all industries is to ask questions. Rachel recommends having five solid questions prepared for your interview. “You may not get a chance to ask them all during the first interview, but it’s better to be prepared!” she said.

    Rachel also encourages job applicants to ask questions specific to the accounting industry. “Yes, it’s okay to ask about the company culture, growth opportunities, etc., but this is a great opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the accounting industry as well,” shared Rachel.

    2. Maintain a Professional Appearance

      Depending on what industry you are interviewing in, you may be able to get away with varying attire during the interview process. However, the accounting industry is a professional industry, so be sure to dress in business attire whether you are interviewing in person or virtually. Rachel added, “At TBG, we have a Dress for Your Day Policy, but it’s still important to put your best foot forward in terms of appearance, especially while you’re in the applicant phase.”

      We realize that not everyone may have access to business professional attire, especially college students applying for an internship. If you find yourself in this situation, Rachel recommends checking your career services center to see if you can borrow a dress or suit! “They often have a closet of business professional attire for students to use during interviews,” she added.

      3. Educate Yourself on the Basics of The Firm and The Industry

        Be sure to review a company’s website before an interview. “It’s critical to have a basic understanding of the firm you are interviewing with. What services do they provide? What about the firm resonates with you? Take a deeper dive into understanding the company,” Rachel shared.

        While you are not expected to know everything about the accounting industry, especially as an intern applicant or someone who just graduated, showing that you know the basics of audit and tax careers can make all the difference.

        4. What To Do If You Get Nervous

          The interview process can be nerve wrecking, especially for those who aren’t as comfortable in these types of situations. To combat the nerves, Rachel often reminds her interviewees that she and other interviewers are still just human beings and were in the same position at one time.

          She continues, “It’s okay to not have it all figured out or have all the answers going into an interview. If you notice you are getting nervous and don’t know how to answer a question, you can always ask for more time to think about it!”

          5. Send a Follow-Up Email

            And finally, Rachel recommends taking the extra step and sending a follow-up email to thank your interviewee and whoever else assisted you during the application/interview process. Rachel shares, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard our Partners comment on how much they appreciate this!”

            If you’re interested in learning more about a career at TBG, check out our current open positions here or reach out to our Recruiting Specialist, Rachel Pasternak, at rpasternak@bonadio.com for more information!

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