Prior to an accounting interview, you want to prepare yourself for the most common questions you’ll face. Ideally, you want to rehearse your answers so that you’re able to conduct a smoother interview, raising the odds that you’ll be able to secure a place in the organization of your choice. These three questions commonly appear in accounting interviews, making them an essential part of your interview preparation strategy.
Question #1: How would you define intangible assets?
Tangible assets are easy: they’re the ones you can easily assign a dollar amount and move on. Intangible assets, on the other hand, are harder to define–and for many of your clients as an accountant, you’ll find that they’re just as important. Intangible assets could include, but are not limited to:
Intangible assets can have a significant impact on how a business runs and operates–not to mention future profits. In today’s society, there is more emphasis placed on intangible assets, including items that can lead to brand recognition, than ever. As a result, these intangible assets can be a critical part of the value of many businesses. It’s important, as an accountant, that you recognize them so that you can help clients assess the full value of the business, especially if they’re planning to sell. Being able to discuss this in detail with your interviewer will prove that you’re able to see beyond the physical numbers when you’re working with clients.
Question #2: How would you define fair value accounting?
Fair value accounting is all about the numbers–and your interviewer wants to know that you can clearly define it. In fair value accounting, a list of all the assets belonging to the business are listed on a balance sheet along with the “fair value” those assets would receive if they were sold. Typically, this includes tangible assets: the equipment owned by the business, any vehicles that are considered part of the business, physical property owned by the business, and other items. Generally, these are estimated amounts used to help value the business, since these items are probably still in use by the business owner.
Question #3: Should accounting standards be mandatory? Why?
If your interviewer asks you whether or not you believe accounting standards should be mandatory, make sure that you answer honestly, but clearly. The only right answer in most interview settings is, “Yes, of course accounting standards should be mandatory!” It’s the “Why?” part of the question that can trip you up. Make sure to include these factors:
Accounting standards help prepare high quality, accurate reports. These standards mean that accounting reports are trustworthy and contain the right information no matter what company has prepared them.
Accounting standards help ensure reliability. You want to know, when you’re reading a financial report, that it has been created by a reliable source. Accounting standards help define “reliability” so that anyone looking at the report knows what they’re looking for.
Accounting standards increase relevance. Without standards on which to base information, it’s difficult to make that information relevant. With accounting standards, you have highly relevant information that makes it possible to easily define key factors.
If you are planning to interview for an accounting role, make sure you have the answers to these questions prepared before you head in for an interview. Take the time to think them through, prepare answers in your own words, and make sure that you understand any necessary concepts so that when you’re asked these questions in an interview, you’re ready to provide your interviewer with the reassurance they need that you are the right candidate for the job.
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