It's best to start at the beginning of your accounting career, and work your way to your most recent position. Talk about any complicated projects you have worked on, who you have supported, and if you have ever led a team.
"I began my career with company XYZ immediately after graduating with my Bachelor's Degree in Finance. I have worked my up from there to a Senior Accountant role with the same company. I primarily work with corporate accounts but do have experience in personal accounting as well."
Assure the hiring manager that you are the best possible fit for the role by discussing your qualifications, strengths, and what sets you apart from the others.
"In addition to meeting all of the educational experience you are asking for, I also have the additional PMP designation which qualifies me to lead accounting based projects for your firm. This is a unique combination and I feel it is just part of what makes me a stand out candidate."
Take the hiring manager through your budget preparation steps. Be to the point when giving your answer. If the interviewer would like for you to elaborate on particular steps, they will ask.
"My latest budget preparation was a very in-depth project. I began by updating the budget assumptions. Then, reviewed any bottlenecks. Next, I determined whether any step costs existed and then created a budget package."
Being organized is very important when you are working with numbers and finance. Discuss with the hiring manager how you are able to remain organized on the job.
"I stay organized by utilizing all programs provided to me by the firm I currently work for. We use a couple of web based programs that are very easy to use. Also, I ensure that my team meets every day in order to discuss our priorities and upcoming deadlines."
Talk to the hiring manager about how you came to choose Accounting as your career path. You can make the answer a bit personal if you wish.
"Growing up, my father was an Accountant and my mother was a bookkeeper. I always took an interest in problem solving and numbers. Accounting was a natural career for me to pursue."
Are you a generalist, or do you prefer to be an accountant in a particular industry? Talk to the hiring manager about your industry preference. Be careful not to express interest in an industry that the hiring company does not have work in.
"I really do prefer corporate accounting within the hospitality industry. I think this is because I am familiar with the industry and find it easier to uncover unique ways for my clients to leverage their money."
Tell the hiring manager that you are able to understand the qualifications required to be successful in this position and that you personally possess these qualities.
"I feel the qualifications required for this role would be a strong mixture of education and experience. You would really benefit from a candidate who has experience working on more complicated corporate financial portfolio's, which I certainly do."
Being able to manage the timeline and delivery of multiple assignments is really vital. Talk to the hiring manager about how you remain organized and on track.
"Currently, I manage 6 staff members. In order to ensure that all assignments are tracked, I use a web based service called Freedcamp. This allows me to track the stage that each project is in. Everyone can update their progress in office and remotely as well."
Talk to the hiring manager about the type of growth that you would like to see in your immediate career. Discuss why this is important to you and what you plan to do to get there.
"My short term career goal is to complete my CPA. I have just one course remaining. This will allow me to take on even more senior accounting tasks in the near future."
Assure the hiring manager that you are able to meet very tight deadlines on complex projects. Give an example of the project by discussing the clients' needs, any support you have received during the project, what the expectations were, and how you met them.
How do you remain up to date on tax law changes? Talk to the hiring manager about how you ensure that you stay up to date on the latest tax law changes.
"I stay up to date on the latest tax laws through subscribing to a variety of finance and accounting related publications such as money.com, Forbes and time.com."
It is important to be technically savvy. Talk to the hiring manager about your ability to learn new programs and use a variety of software.
"I am very savvy when it comes to new technology. Learning new programs and software comes very easily to me. Currently, in my position, I am the Subject Matter Expert when it comes to Excel, Quickbooks and Simply Accounting."
Having the proper designations for the role is very important. Tell the hiring manager about your post secondary experience and accounting designations.
"I attended my post-secondary education at the University of Florida. Completing my Bachelors of Finance in 2009, I returned to part time studies in 2011 to obtain my CPA."
Talk to the hiring manager about the type of growth that you would like to see in your career, long term. Discuss why this is important to you and what you plan to do to get there.
"My long term career goal is to complete my masters' degree in finance. I plan to attend evening and weekend courses. This will allow me to take on even more senior accounting tasks while still remaining employed on a full time basis."
Tell the hiring manager about your level of comfortability with QuickBooks. Have you been tested recently on your QuickBooks abilities? If so, you can certainly talk about that.
"Recently I was given the opportunity to test my skills in QuickBooks when I was being considered for an opportunity through a placement agency. They tested me on my QuickBooks skills and I came out as an Advanced level user."
What was your best course, and why was it so? Talk to the hiring manager about your best post-secondary course.
"My best course while attending my post-secondary education was Management Accounting and Control. I feel that I did so well because the Professor was very interesting. I really enjoyed learning about budgeting, organizational architecture, product costing and decision making."
While working on a project, errors can happen. Talk to the interviewer about how you manage/control these errors.
"I am always sure to check in regularly when it comes to the progress of a project. I ensure that my staff members feel comfortable bringing up changes and suggestions to me when they see room for improvement. Having everyone's eye out for required changes and potential errors really helps with controlling any potential mistakes."
Are you a natural born leader? Do you enjoy leading a team? Discuss any leadership qualities and experience with the hiring manager. Be sure to use examples of times when you have taken on a leadership role. What was the feedback that you received?
"I am a natural leader and I really do enjoy being a leader. I have taken on multiple projects in my current role. Most recently, I was leading a team of 12 junior accountants. The feedback on the project was strong and I felt that the accountants working under me in this project received my guidance openly."
As an Accountant, you will often be working on high pressure deadlines. Assure the hiring manager that you are able to be productive even under high pressure situations.
"As an Accountant, I am very accustomed to working under very tight and important deadlines. They don't bother me at all and I work quite well under intense conditions."
As a Senior Accountant, you will have to make important decisions on a regular basis. Talk to the hiring manager about the biggest work related decision you have been asked to make.
"The most significant decision I have been asked to make this year was when our firm was downsizing. I needed to make recommendations on who to lay off. It was very difficult but I remained diplomatic when making the recommendations."
Discuss with the hiring manager how you keep on top of new regulations that affect the Accounting industry.
"I am a member of IFAC and, as such, I am able to stay up to date on new regulations that affect the accounting industry. I am also a strong researcher which helps me to keep on top of the regulations and any changes. "
Talk to the hiring manager about how you are able to prioritize your work when there are multiple deadlines present.
"When I have multiple deadlines present, I am able to prioritize by keeping a full understanding of what my client is looking for. I realize that all deadlines must be met so I will, of course, work any overtime hours required to meet my deadlines."
Making a difference quickly after being hired is really important to the interviewer. How will you do this?
"I plan to make a difference with your company right away by bringing my organizational and strong corporate accounting skills to you. I have the ability to influence clients and mentor staff which I plan to utilize in order to make an impact on your firm immediately."
Display that you have researched the company prior to your interview. Talk to the interviewer about your findings.
"I have researched your company a great deal prior to the interview and I was also familiar with your firm prior to applying as well. What I enjoy most about your company is your clean reputation in this city. Your brand is a great one and the level of customer service is impressive."
Tell the hiring manager about any exposure you have had to SAP or ERP systems. How do you feel that you could improve? Where do you feel your strongest skills are.
"Yes, I have used both an ERP and SAP system in my previous roles. I would say that I have approximately 8 years exposure in each. My strongest experience comes with data analysis and documentation through SAP."
The senior accountant is responsible for applying accounting principles and procedures to analyze financial information, prepare accurate and timely financial reports and statements and ensure appropriate accounting control procedures.