The first interview generally takes place with human resources. It gives the interviewers a chance to study your personality and to get a feel for who you are. Your relationship and interpersonal skills, and also your motivation, will be examined.
To prepare for the interview, you should get to know yourself thoroughly. Renée Belleville, hiring manager for Accountemps and accounting recruiting specialist, suggests practising giving clear answers to the following:
- Your strengths
- What you could improve
- What motivates you
- What you like the least
- Your perfect job
Answer the questions specifically, clearly and concisely.
As psychologist Eveline Marcil-Denault states in her book Du CV à l’embauche (1), you should be able support each of your skills with one of your experiences. She suggests drawing up a table with the required skills and your matching accounting experience.
Ability to meet deadlines Each year, control of year-end entries in a timely manner. Good customer relationship skills One year of experience as a customer service officer for the accounting department of company XXX.
|Ability to meet deadlines||Each year, control of year-end entries in a timely manner.|
|Patience||As a bookkeeper, daily performance of repetitive and specific tasks, such as taking inventory and preparing invoices.|
|Good customer relationship skills||One year of experience as a customer service officer for the accounting department of company XXX.|
|Organizational skills||General administration and daily file management for a 60-employee company, from 2000 to 2005.|
Also be prepared to explain your past:
- If one of your jobs was not in the accounting field, expect to justify this gap.
- If you’ve experienced a failure, explain it and show what you learned from it.
FIND OUT ABOUT THE COMPANY
Your motivation is also tested, based on your knowledge of the company and its line of business. Do your homework and gather as much relevant information as possible.
Also be prepared to ask a few questions about the company, preferably accounting related ones. This will be further proof of your interest.
- How is your accounting department structured?
- What payroll software do you use?
- Does the same person manage accounts receivable and accounts payable?
- I read that you recently acquired a competitor. What have been the effects on the accounting department?
- Why have you recently changed your payroll software?
BRUSH UP ON YOUR KNOWLEDGE
The second interview is often conducted by the hiring manager for the position. You will be required to answer technical questions on accounting, based on your specialty and the position to be filled. Review the basics, especially if your experience is not recent. Also be prepared to answer in English.
For accountant jobs, recruiters may use recruiting tests. There are two types:
- Skills tests: They are designed to assess your technical knowledge in accounting. Excel tests are often used, especially if the job requires the development of analytical reports.
- Psychometric tests: They assess your personality and help the recruiter get a better handle on you.
Don’t panic; most of the time, these tests highlight your strengths and play in your favour.
And don’t try to cut corners—often the tests are designed to weed out manipulative applicants. They can tell when the answers given don’t match your real personality.
(1) Du CV à l’embauche, Eveline Marcil-Denault, Éditions Quebecor, 2005