When I decided it was time to make my next career move, I realized the easy part was behind me. The market for CPAs at the time was one that presented me with endless possibilities and I was interviewing for roles before I knew it. Unfortunately, it had been years since I’d had to market myself and I realized I was alarmingly unprepared. A quick Google search showed me hundreds of practice questions, which proved to be a lesson that too much of a good thing, is really just too much.
Now that I’ve been placed in a fantastic role, thanks to the Luminari search engine, friends going through the process want to know what advice I have. With some reflection, I realized that these few questions came up in almost all my CPA interviews:
What are your strengths?
This one seems like a no brainer, right? Wrong! Each employer you interview with is looking for different traits in a candidate, so make sure you’ve read the job posting once or twice beforehand so you can outline those specific strengths that make you well suited for this role.
Why do you want to leave your current role?
While it seems obvious you need to avoid anything too negative, coming up with a well thought out answer can be harder than you think! In most polished response, I explained that I was looking for greater stability and insight into the big picture. In my worst? I said I didn’t like when extra work came up at the last minute. Same reason, but very different answers.
Where do you expect to be in 5 years?
No need to predict the future here, just think of a few points that show you’ve thought ahead. It’s also important to be honest on this one, because as much as you want a job, you also want the right one, that suits your needs.
What’s your preferred work style?
Independent? In teams? Need lots of specific instructions? Prefer time to figure things out on your own, so you can really learn? Think it over ahead of time.
Any red flags that make you not want to join us?
When I was asked this, I said “None! Of course not!” What I should have done, was name a few things I’d be sacrificing from my current job to show I’d really considered the specific role.
Walk me through your resume.
Again, if you can highlight your experience based on what the posting (or company culture) is looking for, you can make a huge impact.
Did you work on any complex accounting issues at your previous role?
This one came up maybe half the time, but it’s worth thinking about before going into an interview. Think about what you did, why it was complex and don’t sell yourself short.
What questions have you been asked in interviews that you wished you’d been more prepared for? Comment below!