You’ve passed every course, you’ve finally found the firm you want to work through your CPA with—and they want you! You just need to get through that interview. But where do you start?
We’ve hired enough students and junior accountants over the years that we know a thing or two about what accounting firms are looking for.
Here are our top 7 tips for acing a junior accountant interview
1. Show up on time
This one goes without saying—if you can’t show up on time for your interview it doesn’t exactly give the impression that you’ll be arriving on time for the job. When planning how to get to your interview, don’t forget to factor in:
- Finding the building
- Finding the suite and (if applicable) climbing all those floors!
2. If it’s a virtual interview, prepare your tech ahead of time
This goes hand in hand with being on time. Whether it’s an in-person or online interview —you want to be there early and look prepared. Starting 5 minutes late because your Zoom wouldn’t cooperate isn’t a good way to start off on the right foot—that is if the firm will even continue the interview at all! Unless there is a sudden power outage 30 seconds before your call starts, blaming technology really isn’t an option in 2022.
- Plug in your device
- Download and open Zoom, Google Meets or whichever platform you’re using 10 minutes before the meeting
- Log in to the program in advance
- Did they send you a link? Have the email open and ready.
- Test it. Where are you sitting? If a preview of your camera isn’t available, turn on your computer’s built-in webcam to make sure the angle, lightning and background look good.
If your computer is known to be slow or your wi-fi sometimes drops out, be ready to log on using your phone or another device as a backup plan.
Lastly, dress for success, even if it’s a virtual interview.
3. Bring a copy of your resume and a notepad
It’s ok to take notes or to write down a prompt to remind you which question you’re answering.
You should also bring a copy of your resume to refer to throughout the interview if needed. That way you’ll be more likely to remember to reference the specific experiences and skills you highlighted in your application.
4. Research the firm you’re interviewing with and know its practice areas
Not all accounting firms are created equal: why do you want to work at this one? What are your aspirations? Why? If you’re interested in tax, do your research and find out how much tax-related work the firm actually does. If you talk about how much you want to learn about tax to a firm that doesn’t do that kind of work, you’re going to come off as unprepared.
5. Think about your accounting strengths, areas of expertise and areas of interest.
You know where you excel and what projects you’re most enthusiastic about, but it can be hard to think of on the spot. Spend some time before the interview preparing so you won’t forget to note something you really didn’t want to miss. More importantly, be sure to tie your strengths and interests to the work of the firm you’re interviewing for. Prove you want to work with this particular firm.
6. Answer the question you’re being asked (not the one you wanted to be asked)
It can be hard to remember what you were asked when you’re nervous, so take your time and answer to the best of your ability. If you’re not sure whether you’ve answered the question adequately, reaffirm at the end: “Did that answer your question? Is there anything else you’d like me to address?”
7. Highlight what you can offer the firm, but also what the firm can offer you
It can be hard to talk yourself up and it can be intimidating when you don’t have a lot of experience, but here are some tips to help you formulate strong answers during the interview when preparing at home:
- Print a copy of the job posting you applied for
- Highlight everything you might have experience in.
- Write down any transferable experience you’ve gained over the years—even if it’s not specifically in accounting
It’s time to ace your junior accountant interview
Lastly—you got this!
We’re aware you may be reading this as you prepare for an interview at our own firm specifically. If that’s the case, good news! Your foot is in the door, you already have our attention and we already like something about you, and that goes for any other firm you’re preparing to interview for! Relax and if at first you don’t succeed, think of it as great practice and try again (maybe even with us next time).
If you’re looking for an accounting position, we frequently hire students and junior accountants. Check out our careers page for open positions. Good luck!
This post has been prepared for general information purposes. It is not advice. The information presented may not fit your unique situation, please consult one of our trusted business advisors at RHN CPA for further clarification and interpretation of your circumstances.