Whether it’s individual clients or an entire organization, everyone needs a highly-skilled accountant to assist in financial reporting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, financial forecasting, and advisory. That’s why it doesn’t come as a surprise that employment agencies in Canada are scrambling to fill accounting roles in various companies and ensure that they are staffed with the most qualified candidates.
Your resume as an aspiring professional accountant is only one piece of the hiring process. A strong resume may get you through the door — and past the algorithms used to screen candidates — but it’s the face-to-face interview that will set the most qualified candidate apart from other equally skilled and experienced accountants.
It’s not just one interview that you have to do well in. Large companies and established accounting firms use a series of interviews to learn about your skills and experience and even test how well you can perform on the job.
To impress the hiring manager and lead accountants on your team, you need to establish confidence in your skills. Learn how to interview successfully, and land your dream accounting job in Canada:
1. Communicate your “why”
“Why do you want this job?” is the most common, and often deciding question in any job interview.
As an accountant, you need to tackle this question as precisely as when preparing an audit report or financial statement or filing taxes. Don’t just cite your love of numbers — paint a full picture of your skills, hobbies, and interests, and connect these to your passion for accounting to demonstrate why you care about the job beyond the paycheque.
2. Remember the basics
When an employment agency recommends you for an interview, your primary focus should be embodying the professionalism that accountants are known for. You need to demonstrate the required core competencies for the job, which you will be asked about through technical questions.
You can’t be an accountant without a good grasp of basic accounting principles. While simple, interviewers may ask these questions to test your fundamental knowledge on the spot and confirm whether what is listed on paper is valid. It doesn’t matter how much you do this work every day — practice concise verbal answers, and weave in this technical knowledge when discussing your professional experience.
3. Be a good storyteller
Everyone loves a good story, especially hiring managers. An interview isn’t designed to test how well you know and can recite your resume — hiring managers are interested in learning about the circumstances that honed your professional experience.
Employment agencies find that the most successful interviews involved success stories wherein accountants solved a technical problem or handled a difficult client. While any good accountant can recite technical information on financial reporting, the best ones show how they have mastered and successfully applied these to deliver positive outcomes.
But don’t just launch into a story right away — use these success stories wisely, such as to elaborate how you would solve a certain problem if asked. Start with a summary of the situation you were faced with, then detail your approach and the outcome, preferably with data. When used wisely, success stories demonstrate transferable skills that you have previously learned and apply to any professional environment.
4. Present a solution
Professional accounting exists to comply with financial regulations and streamline processes and controls for managing budgets, accounts, and debts to ensure an organization’s financial health and survival. As an aspiring accountant in Canada, you are hired to solve these problems daily.
To assess how well you can do the job, employers will tell you about these challenges and upcoming projects; your task is to demonstrate how you can support the company using technical expertise and soft skills like communication and organization. Your ability to present an innovative solution grounded in basic accounting principles demonstrates your value to the company — it indicates that you are a good hire.
5. Fit with the company culture
An interview is a great way to meet your future co-workers. They are often involved in the hiring process and brought in by HR to help assess your professional competencies. Meeting your future manager and other senior members of the team is also a great way to establish a rapport and determine how well you would fit in with the company culture.
When meeting your future co-workers, be prepared to answer questions ranging from technical accounting information to your work ethic and methods. Strengthen your case by reviewing and connecting the company’s core values to your own and telling stories about how you have done so in previous roles to do an excellent job of representing its best interests.
Similarly, take this opportunity to ask relevant questions that help you understand the position and the organizational dynamics — this tells the company that you are a serious candidate, invested not only in joining the company but also in contributing to its future growth.
6. Do your research
An employment agency only recommends the best candidates for the job. To become one of them, you need to do your research and come prepared. Beyond communicating the skills and experience that make you most qualified, you need to demonstrate knowledge of the company and emerging trends in the industry, such as new financial reporting standards, tax laws, and other regulations. This level of attention to detail is characteristic of a great accountant.
7. Schedule wisely
When contacted by an employment agency to interview in Canada, make sure to secure the best slot possible; often, this is the first. The first candidate sets the benchmark to which everyone that follows will be compared against, so you are at an advantage to make a strong and lasting impression.
To achieve this gold standard status, make it a point to schedule your interview as soon as possible — this indicates that you are highly interested in the position and ensures that any unconscious and immediate preferences are awarded to you over the competition.
For more tips to help you nail your next accountant interview, call 905-273-6765 or contact us here.