Accounting interns actively participate in the daily operations of a genuine accounting department, gaining valuable first-hand experience in the industry. Prospective candidates should display professionalism, responsibility, and a strong desire to learn.
Why did you choose to have a career in accounting?
This interview question seeks further insight into your motivation for pursuing a career in accounting. Alongside addressing the inquiry, ensure you elaborate on your accounting-related career objectives. Leverage this opportunity to showcase your commitment and enthusiasm for the accounting field. Additionally, you may use this moment to share any pertinent internship or volunteer experiences related to accounting.
While in high school, I held the role of my school’s treasurer. This experience taught me to forecast costs for upcoming events and effectively manage expenses. I discovered a genuine passion for this responsibility, which led me to pursue a career in accounting. During college, I dedicated my time to volunteer as an accounting consultant at the local community center. This opportunity further honed my organizational and analytical skills.
What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses with respect to accounting?
This interview question seeks insights into your work-related strengths and weaknesses in the context of the accounting industry. When responding, provide specific examples. Highlight a few strengths and how you have utilized or plan to apply them to the vacant position. When addressing your most significant weakness, outline the steps you are taking to overcome it.
My career has been marked by two significant strengths: exceptional project management and communication skills. During my volunteer work at the community center, I effectively introduced a structured and organized approach to operations. While I thrive in team environments, I have recognized that delegating tasks poses a challenge and stands as one of my greatest weaknesses.
Tell us how you schedule your work throughout the day.
Given the daily challenge of balancing multiple priorities in accounting offices, time management is likely to be a key topic during your interview. Demonstrating flexibility and organization is crucial to your interviewer. Assure them of your ability to handle any workload efficiently. Moreover, take this chance to emphasize your excellent communication skills.
Each morning, I take 15 minutes to review my agenda and tasks for the day. By considering deadlines and previous discussions, I prioritize the work accordingly. If any task’s importance is unclear, I promptly consult my manager for alignment. I then organize my schedule to accommodate these priorities. Should new tasks emerge, I have a brief conversation with my manager to ensure we are in agreement.
Did you ever encounter a time when you had to be flexible in the workplace?
Employers seek candidates who can handle the dynamic nature of busy offices, adjusting swiftly when faced with unexpected challenges like a coworker’s absence or a shifted deadline. Demonstrating adaptability showcases your teamwork spirit, as you are ready to lend a hand whenever needed. You can use the STAR method to highlight your flexibility, concluding on a positive and optimistic note.
During my previous job, I was deeply engrossed in data entry for a client when a colleague urgently sought my assistance with a crucial project. As it was month-end, abandoning my data entry work was not feasible. However, recognizing the importance of my teammate’s request, I promptly re-prioritize my tasks and committed to working extra hours. This dedication ensured the completion of both assignments.
A client asks you to create a detailed expense record. However, there are no supporting documents that are provided to you. What will you do in this situation?
Honesty and integrity are vital traits in an accounting firm. These qualities are crucial for success, and during an interview, the hiring manager may inquire about how you would navigate a challenging situation. Respond succinctly, assuring them that you would always uphold these principles without any uncertainty.
I would respectfully refuse to comply and provide my rationale. Expense records are directly linked to tax records, which are legally binding documents requiring proper paper trail documentation.
Elaborate a time when you worked with your peers to achieve a successful result. What was your collaborative effort?
An accountant’s results-oriented mindset is a highly sought-after quality. Your interviewer seeks assurance that they can depend on you to complete your assigned tasks with excellence. In your response, feel free to showcase your accomplishments proudly. While the example you provide doesn’t have to be accounting-specific, quantifying the impact of your achievements will earn you extra recognition.
Three years ago, I collaborated with my best friend to initiate a charity food drive through the College Student Association, aiming to make a positive impact on the community. We took ownership of the entire project, extensively promoting it through various local channels. When the drive concluded, we successfully gathered over $10,000 worth of food donations for our local food bank.
Tell us how you communicate with your fellow peers.
In today’s workplace, diverse communication methods are available. Displaying the ability to discern when to use each form signifies strong communication skills. When responding, showcase your adaptability and attentiveness to effectively convey your message.
For brief queries, I prefer using instant messaging. However, if the response requires more than a minute of explanation, I opt for email. When dealing with sensitive or potentially misunderstood discussions, I arrange a face-to-face meeting or make a phone call.
Tell me about a time that you provided exceptional customer service to a client.
This is another frequently asked accounting interview question. Customer service skills hold immense value in an accounting position. While numbers are a significant aspect, they are ultimately linked to individuals who require guidance and education to effectively manage their financial records.
During my time as an assistant at a senior living facility, I encountered a situation where a resident awaited their family member in the lobby for a doctor’s appointment. Unfortunately, the family member faced car trouble and wouldn’t arrive on time. Recognizing the resident’s anxiousness regarding test results, I took the initiative to offer assistance by driving the resident to the appointment, ensuring they wouldn’t have to reschedule.
How do you ensure no mistakes are made while you are making a data entry?
When dealing with numerical data, meticulous attention to detail is paramount. To account for the possibility of human error, implementing safeguards becomes essential. Beyond simply mentioning this skill on your resume, take this opportunity to showcase your capability of consistently producing error-free work.
While working, I make a conscious effort to reduce distractions in the workplace. Additionally, I incorporate straightforward data validation checkpoints into my workflow. These validations act as safeguards, allowing me to identify and rectify any errors early on, preventing them from progressing further into the work.
What are the relevant skills/certifications that you have?
The relevance of this aspect varies based on your experience and the specific job you are applying for. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to respond truthfully, expressing your willingness to address any potential gaps in knowledge or skills.
As this will be my initial full-time accounting role, I have completed various accounting courses but have not pursued any certifications yet. I’m particularly enthusiastic about the numerous professional development opportunities that this company offers.
What will be your course of action if you don’t immediately know the solution to a problem?
In contemporary workplaces, employers seek resourceful employees who can work independently and adeptly resolve challenges on their own. Being proactive in tackling tough problems is highly appreciated by busy managers. Demonstrate your ability to handle unfamiliar situations effectively.
I thoroughly enjoy researching and finding solutions to problems using diverse methods. My approach may involve online searches, seeking guidance from peers, or revisiting old textbooks to refresh my memory.
What will you do while planning a large project to reduce all accounting errors?
Given the time-consuming nature of accounting work, which often includes extensive data entry, this question addresses your project planning process and how you mitigate errors. Describe your process in a step-by-step manner, ensuring to highlight specific measures taken to prevent mistakes.
Initially, I schedule a meeting with my team leader or client to grasp the project’s expectations and objectives. I seek details about individual goals and deadlines. Next, I prefer breaking down the project into weekly tasks, further subdivided into daily duties. Progressively, I set weekly goals to steadily advance the project towards successful completion.
What are the accounting programs that you are most comfortable using?
This interview question pertains to your accounting background and seeks information about the accounting programs you have used in school or during your internship. Highlight the programs you are proficient in and elaborate on your comfort level and experience with each.
During my accounting educational program, I extensively studied FreshBooks and NetSuite. Additionally, I gained hands-on experience with NetSuite while volunteering at the community center. In my internship, we mainly utilized Tipalti and FreeAgent, allowing me to familiarize myself with their accounting functionalities. I remain up-to-date with industry publications to be aware of new accounting programs, and I consistently enhance my skills with existing ones.
Have you ever had to work with a difficult client before?
This interview question seeks insights into your communication and client skills. Accountants frequently collaborate with clients to gather information and comprehend project objectives. When responding, employ the behavioral STAR method: Start by describing the situation, then outline your task, elaborate on the actions you took, and conclude with the overall result.
During my internship at Delta Group, I encountered a client who consistently requested tight timelines and submitted necessary documents at the last minute. As someone who prefers planning projects well in advance, meeting these deadlines presented challenges. I addressed my concerns with the client, leading to a conversation where I discovered they were feeling overwhelmed with their project responsibilities.
Tell us about a time when you faced issues with a particular transaction.
This situational interview question is best answered by relating it to a specific example. Consider how you would approach the challenge of reconciling a transaction. Utilize this opportunity to demonstrate your problem-solving, analytical, and collaboration skills.
When a customer presents a check with a hold, my first step would be to suggest trying an alternative payment method. If that’s not feasible, I’d delve into the reason for the check return and carefully assess the situation. I would then record the hold in the system and adjust my workflow accordingly.
Differentiate between revenue recognition and accrual accounting.
Revenue recognition follows the principle of recognizing revenue when the product or service is delivered to the customer. Consequently, if a product goes missing or gets stolen, no revenue will be acknowledged. Accrual accounting recognizes revenue regardless of whether the product or service remains under your control.
The critical aspect to remember is that revenue recognition should occur when the product or service is delivered to the customer. In cases of theft, if the product cannot be returned to inventory, revenue should not be recognized. However, if the product is returned, the revenue can be recognized. The key is to prevent such situations from happening in the first place.
Tell us the difference between GAAP and IFRS.
IFRS stands for International Financial Reporting Standards, a globally adopted system. Accounting interns must possess a clear understanding of the distinctions between GAAP and IFRS, as this knowledge will significantly impact their responsibilities.
IFRS is a system that was implemented by the International Accounting Standards Board. It is intended to provide uniform accounting standards for the whole world. Previously, accounting standards were decided by governments or each country’s own accounting bodies, leading to inconsistencies. However, IFRS is considered more transparent. This is because it ensures consistent accounting procedures are used throughout the world.
What type of internship are you looking for?
My response should focus on my background, career aspirations, and the advantages an internship with this company could offer me. Employers seek interns who align well with their organization, thus it is crucial to showcase my authentic interest in the company and how I can contribute to its success. English language proficiency is maintained.
I lack prior internship experience, but during my college years, I had the privilege of working with a comparable company. Following thorough research of the role, I am enthusiastic about the chance to join as an accounting intern in this organization.
Did you work with other interns previously?
When applying for the accounting intern role, it’s essential to consider potential collaboration with fellow interns. The interviewer seeks insights into any prior experience in this regard and your aptitude for effectively managing a team. Demonstrating qualities of a compassionate, fair, and experienced leader, capable of fostering productivity in the workplace, will be advantageous.
My strong rapport with peers and colleagues is a valuable asset. Being a team player hinges on actively listening to the team and ensuring clarity on tasks and responsibilities. To achieve this, I prioritize over-communication, maintaining a comprehensive list of everyone’s duties as a reference for their guidance. Additionally, I offer an open line of communication for them to reach out to me whenever needed.
How do you determine which client to focus on?
Providing an effective answer requires not only explaining your reasoning but also showcasing your industry knowledge and outlining your approach to prioritizing clients. There isn’t a singular correct response to this interview question. Emphasize your individual priorities and the methods you employ to determine which clients deserve focus.
My primary focus would be on clients generating the highest revenue, while also paying attention to those experiencing rapid revenue growth. In my assessment, I would balance potential revenue with the level of effort required to manage the client, their long-term prospects, and their capacity to refer new business. For instance, I might prioritize a client from a different industry but with a proven track record of generating referrals and a consistent influx of inbound leads, as this would contribute significantly to revenue generation.
Once you have your own well-crafted responses to all ten accounting interview questions, it’s time to practice. Remember, thorough preparation holds the key to acing your interview and opening the door to a prosperous accounting career.