FAQ – The 1 interview question you need an answer for to break out of Accounting & Audit
In these FAQ posts, we answer the most frequently asked questions we receive from clients and readers making their career moves out of Accounting & Audit, what else you need to be mindful of and hints & tips to ensure you give yourself the best possible chances of securing that next dream role.
In this FAQ, we’re covering the 1 question that stumps most people in an interview and how you can best prepare for it – “walk me through your CV / Resume”.
Are you wondering:
- What’s the point of this question?
- What I NEED to do to make sure I nail this question?
- How do I stop myself talking on…and on…and on?
Let’s get to it…
What’s the point of this question?
So you might argue that this question is just downright lazy of the interviewer. I mean, did they not have time to read your CV / Resume before the meeting?
It may well be the case that this is partly true, however smart interviewers also use this question as a TEST to get to know you better at the beginning of an interview.
And they’re testing a range of things including the following:
- What’s your story and how does it lead to you being a good fit (both from a motivation and skills perspective) for this role and company today?
- What do you consider to be your most relevant skills and experience and how well do you understand this job role you are applying for?
- Are you concise in your answers which can indicate conciseness in your work?
- Can you handle an open ended and slightly pressurised question?
The first 2 points require a bit of homework, however if you have put in the time and written your CV / Resume well in order to best show case yourself for this particular role then you will already have a good base to work from.
The other points will all come with a bit of practice and organisation. Having an answer that lasts up to but no longer than 5 minutes is ideal (Note: some interviewers will ask additional questions throughout your answer so be ready for this).
We’ll cover all of these in the next sections of this article.
What I NEED to do to make sure I nail this question?
It should be clear by now from the section above that the interviewer wants to know how you are a good fit for this role and company.
For the purpose of this article we can split this into 2 parts (1) What’s your story & (2) How do your skills and experiences make you a good fit.
In reality you will need to combine these when you are answering the question (e.g. when discussing each of your previous roles bring out the key parts that relate to this role you are applying to and also explain how it led to the next role you took/piece of work you moved onto).
1. What’s your story?
I don’t mean literally give them your life story here.
What they’re hoping to see from you is a clear path that lead you to apply for this role and company.
So for example if you started in Audit and specialised in Banking but then moved to work in the Entertainment industry for a year or two and are now applying for a role in Hospitality then now is your chance to explain why you’ve decided to take these very different opportunities.
If the roles were also quite different (e.g. Audit vs Sales) it’s a good chance to mention that you wanted to broaden your experience.
They will appreciate your honesty and it can actually be a positive spin on your history if you took what may seem less traditional routes as they are unlikely to have many candidates that have a blended mix of skills.
It’s also ok to say that there was no clear plan but that the opportunities seemed interesting and useful at the time because of ‘X’ reason.
Whatever the answer is, make sure it clearly indicates what lead you to this role and company now!
2. How do your skills and experiences make you a good fit
You WILL have picked up relevant skills and experience from your past jobs. Do not underestimate yourself here and believe me when I say you will definitely have some relevant topics of discussion from whatever background you have come from.
If you’ve spent time tuning your CV / Resume to this role then you will have the key points you want to make already on paper.
If you didn’t have time to do this when making your initial application, then make sure you understand the role and company you are applying for in detail.
Consider how you might make the interviewer comfortable that you have had similar experience in the past or that you would at least get up to speed with everything quickly.
Try and predict where the gaps are on your CV / Resume vs the job description and try and fill them with either:
- Previous examples of work you have performed that are relevant/transferable.
- Completing or at least getting something in the diary before the interview that you can mention and will show your interest in learning/improving your skills in this area.
If you’re not sure you fully understand the role and how it fits into the wider finance spectrum check out our digital Exit Options guide which details this all and more!
If you’re still unsure of which experiences from your Accounting and Audit career would help you win the interviewer over then you can always get personalised advice from one of our Co-Founders. We’ve been where you are, we are passionate about helping others move into more Strategic and Commercial roles from Accounting and Audit and we can help you forge your swift exit. Click here to Get Coached.
How do I stop myself talking on…and on…and on?
From the interviewer’s perspective, rambling in your answer could indicate that you don’t have any relevant experiences from your career that relate to this role you are applying for and that you’re not a confident speaker under pressure.
It’s very easy to go wrong on this question but preparing well is a sure way to help you manage any “waffling on” and will help you be more concise.
I would recommend having a variety of examples from your career that cover all of the aspects (or as many as possible) of what would be expected of you in this new role. That way you have at least covered everything to some degree in case the interviewer had some concerns about a particular area of your skillset and didn’t plan on asking you about it.
Furthermore you will feel SO MUCH MORE confident all round for the interview if you have the answer to this question in your back pocket as all of your smaller “give me an example of when you did this…?” answers will already be top of mind.
If you need to stop yourself talking then just end with why you have chosen this role and company as your next career move out of traditional Accounting and Audit. That’s a pleasant and clear ending to your answer that opens the floor back to the interviewer.
This FAQ-series intended to give you a quick and dirty overview to some of the most frequently asked questions about making career moves after Accounting & Audit. This particular post covered the 1 interview question you need to answer to move out of Accounting and Audit into more strategic and commercial roles, with other articles coming soon!
Exit Options | Mapping the post-accounting & audit landscape
A lot of the clients we coach ask about moving into more strategic & commercial roles after spending time in traditional accounting & audit, but don’t know where to start or even what opportunities exist …so-much-so that we’ve put together a map of the landscape of accounting exit opportunities, which I encourage you to check out!
Spice up your CV/Resume for the post-accounting & audit world
We’ve created a digital guide specifically to help those of you applying for more commercial & strategic roles. Our straight-talking CV/Resume advice for Accountants/Auditors is the only guide that is highly-specific to the traditional accounting & audit background: we give you real-life good & bad examples for showcasing your experience for strategic roles, the best structure & content to win over recruiters, a strategy for distributing your CV/Resume, interview advice, and more!
Want personalised advice from one of our Co-Founders?
We’ve been where you are and can help you forge your swift exit. Click here to Get Coached.