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Accountancy Interviews – What to ask

A job interview is probably one of the most stressful short periods of time most people spend in their lives, predominantly due to the fact that most people have a fear of the unknown. It ranks well up there with going to the doctors, the dentists or for people with a fear of aeroplanes, flying!

However, stressful situations can be overcome and actually be made to become a relatively enjoyable experience if you are well prepared for what’s ahead, with a job interview this is basically having some form of answer to a question posed to you from an employer at interview stage. No one likes to experience that intrepid silence that follows when an interviewer poses a question to you that you do not have an answer for as it can appear that you are unprofessional and have not prepared properly for the interview, hence giving the impression you are not overly bothered about getting the job.

Over the course of the next few paragraphs we will give you scenarios as to the kinds of questions that employers will ask you along with replies, that will not always be the exact answer the employer may want to hear, but will make you look like you have thought about your interview without just turning up with the usual “I am the person for the job” attitude that so many people have and which can cause failure at interview stage.

Employers do not want to waste their time seeing hundreds of applicants for jobs as it costs them time and money, they do not set out to cause embarrassment or be sadistic making you feel inadequate or stupid at an interview, they simply want to employ the right person for the job as cost effectively and in the least time as possible, so if you are well prepared with your answers you will stand a far better chance of a second interview or possibly getting the job there and then if you tell them what they want to hear.

The more help you provide to the interviewer the better your performance will be and the more at ease you will feel so be positive and do your homework and it will help you sail through your interview with ease.

When you attend the interview you are selling yourself and for the period of the interview you will have the centre stage. People buy off people, if they like you as a person you are 25% of the way to getting the job, smiley professional faces are always accepted in a far more welcoming manner than dead serious ones! To a degree you are having to carry out an “act” to sell yourself but have to “act” in a natural manner, you must not pretend that you are someone that you aren’t as if you are not relaxed and natural the interviewer will think that you probably won’t enjoy the job anyway and you won’t get any further than the door.

Most importantly when you get through the tough stage of getting the interview in the first place don’t be too nervous, easy for us to say I know! A great deal of emphasis is placed on body language by professional interviewers and although most people expect you to be slightly nervous in an interview situation they also expect you to be confident in terms of what you are talking about, something you will do with ease if you know your stuff.

You must always remember that we all only go to work for the same basic reasons, to provide for our families and to enjoy a better standard of living and that applies from the Chairman down to the Cleaner!

Finally, even if you don’t get the job as long as you have given it 100% you will come away feeling positive and good about yourself and this will help you along way with the next interview you attend.

Preparation.

The motto of “always be prepared” has never rung more true than when attending an interview. It is always a good idea to find out a little information about what your prospective employer does, they after all have had your CV to look out to find out background on you so why should this not work the other way around. You don’t have to know the inns and outs of the company’s financial results for the last 200 years but if you have done some research on the firm this will look to an interviewer that you really our serious about the job and their business. Useful information can be found on companies websites or in the financial news papers, a copy of which is kept on computer at most libraries. It may be that they have just released some news on a new product or had some good publicity over a charity event they have sponsored; it never hurts to comment on positive information about their company. Most employers expect you to live and breathe their business during Monday to Friday so the more knowledge you have about their company the better, it shows a genuine interest.

There are basically three fundamental questions that an interviewer sets out to answer over the course of his/her time spent with you, these are as follows:-

- Can You Do The Job?
- Do you have the right experience, qualifications, skills that they require?
- Are You Willing To Give The Job 100%?
- Are you keen and eager, do you want to succeed in helping make the company grow stronger, bigger and better - are you self motivated and are you able to demonstrate this?
- Can You Become Part Of The Team & Will You Fit In?
- Are you a team player? Most employers like this, one person doesn’t run the company single handily it is made up of sometimes many 100’s of people all doing their bit to make the cogs turn smoothly. Do you get on well with people, can you adapt, can you deal with awkward and difficult situations, are you flexible.

At the end of the day the interviewer has asked you to see him/her to find out more about you. When answering these questions make sure that you are well prepared with positive answers to them, most people have a rather bad habit of singing like a bird about their bad qualities and not their good ones.

There is nothing worse than yes or no answers to questions asked by an interviewer. We have prepared a list of general skills questions. Go through this list and give an example to each one that you feel you have strengths in. For example (interviewer) “are you able to delegate work?” (answer) “yes I am, in my previous job I had responsibilities for overseeing purchasing for all of our stationary as one of my duties, but on a Friday I would have to do the week end run off figures, which were crucial for my sales manager to budget for the following week as well as the stationary orders so I would ask my assistant to prepare the stationary list to save time and I would check through this before I authorised the requisition order”.

Try answering some of the following question’s with your own answers:-

- Am I able to use my own initiative?
- Am I able to work under pressure?
- Am I good at communicating and explaining things to other people?
- Am I approachable by my staff?
- Am I able to learn new jobs and absorb information quickly?
- Am I good at solving technical problems?
- Am I computer literate?
- Am I able to work under pressure?
- Am I confident on the telephone?
- Am I good at meeting deadlines?

There are many more questions like these that interviewers will ask, you should take five minutes to think about as many of these as you can and perform the same task as above. If you think about it if you were to expand on each of the ten samples above with a brief statement this would take about 10 minutes of interview, on the basis that most interviews last less than an hour you have given your interviewer a good insight into your general experience. You will impress your interviewer if you expand on these questions and it will show that you really have thought about the interview before it began.