The Accounting Interview – Curveball Questions and How to Answer Them


We’ve all had them – interview questions that confound us and leave us struggling for a reasonable answer. But there is a method to this interview question madness. With soft skills such as coachability defining whether or not a hire is successful, prospective employers are getting savvier with the kinds of questions that they ask during a finance or accounting interview. Here are 3 unusual questions and how to answer them.

Question #1: What is the Biggest Misconception People May Have About You?
This question tests emotional IQ and self-awareness. It requires the candidate to be able to look outside of themselves and evaluate how others might see their behavior. Ultimately, the interviewer is assessing whether or not you’d be a cultural fit.

What they’re looking for

  • You understand other people and their motivations
  • You’re collaborative
  • You can adjust your behavior depending on the circumstance
  • You’re open to feedback

You could talk about a time you modified your behavior based on a new manager’s preference, or team environment. This approach shows adaptability and a willingness to change. Don’t have a misconception story? Talk about a time there was a misunderstanding at work and how you communicated to resolve it.

Question #2: If You Could Relive the Last 10 Years of Your Life What Would You Change?

This question tests whether you’ve made purposeful career choices. If you have, it tells the interviewer that the role you’re interviewing for is something that makes sense for your career goals. It means you’re invested.

What they’re looking for

  • You’re self-reflective
  • You make strategic career choices
  • If a mistake was made, you’ve learned from it
  • You deconstruct things from a solutions-focused, positive perspective

Maybe you wouldn’t change anything. If so, why? Is it because each step has gotten you to where you are today?  What key learnings have you extracted from each experience? Did a role connect you to a valuable mentor?

Resource: Read about other tricky interview questions and how to answer them by clicking here.

Question #3: Tell Us About a Time You Actually Failed at Something

Research is quite revealing on this point. The way you respond to failure can define your professional success. Successful hires exhibit grit and motivation.

What they’re looking for

  • You respond to adversity with resilience
  • You’re solutions-focused, not barrier focused
  • You can modify your approach if you’re initially unsuccessful
  • That you’re willing to admit failure, show that you’ve learned and grown from it

Successful candidates pick themselves up, dust themselves off and learn from the experience.

Key Takeaways

Don’t be thrown by a curveball question in your accounting interview. The hiring manager or HR representative is trying to understand if you’d be a good fit for their organization and culture. Show self-awareness and flexibility. Display a willingness to learn and a solutions-focused mentality. Demonstrate that you’re coachable, responsive and highly motivated. Ultimately, you want the organization to fit your needs as much as they want you to fit theirs. Honest, self-reflective answers will help achieve this.

Your Next Step

No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

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