Interviewing people for jobs has evolved a lot in the last decade. Behavioral questions prevail, and the entire hiring process has become more sophisticated. Days when the only questions you faced were “Tell me about yourself”, “What are your goals?”, “Why do you want to work as an Accountant (or other position)” are gone for good. However, you may still get these questions, and especially one about your strengths and weaknesses. They are more typical in early stages of the hiring process (phone interview, screening interview), and you will have to deal with many other questions to eventually get the job. But you may face them, and should get ready.
Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to the question about your strengths and weaknesses. I picked strengths fitting for Accountants in most of the answers, but I also decided to include some unconventional answers on my list. At the end of the day, sometimes the most important thing is to stand out, and say something else than the others will say. Do not forget to check also the text below the sample answers, for additional explanations and hints.
7 sample answers to “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” interview question for accountants
- Attention to detail and excellent math skills are my greatest strengths. At least everything I’ve experienced so far during my studies and professional career suggest so. Just like everyone else, however, I have my weaknesses. I am impatient at times, and I definitely have to improve on my communication skills. Because I understand that a good accountant cannot only record each transaction properly. They have to be able to communicate their findings and suggestions to the managers from the company. But I really hope that working in an international corporation like this one, I will be forced–in good means, to improve on my communication skills, simply by having more interactions with others.
- My experience is my greatest strength. I’ve had my own accounting business for over a decade, with dozens of clients. Companies and freelancers from all sorts of industries, having all sorts of activities. Both local and international transactions, investment, cryptocurrency, payroll, you name it. I had to learn a lot, and I believe that I have faced almost every challenge an accountant can face in their practice. This gives me some edge over other job applicants–or at least I fancy my chances. On the other hand, I have never worked in a corporate environment, and may find it hard to fit into the place, with everything that belongs to a typical corporate culture. This is definitely my weakness, but I believe I will be able to eventually overcome it. I am up for the challenge to say the least.
- My greatest strengths are motivation and willingness to learn. This is my first job application, but I have all motivation in the world to learn from more experienced colleagues, and eventually become an excellent accountant. My weakness is lack of experience. Of course, I’ve earned my degree from Economics and we did a lot of accounting at the college, and I have always excelled in my accounting exams. But I also realize that there’s a big gap between the theory at school, and real practice of an accountant, and I have to learn a lot to bridge this gap. It is definitely my weakness, but I see it as something temporary.
* Do not forget to check also: Why do you want to be an accountant?
- 100% focus on results is perhaps my greatest strength. In my opinion, the role of an accountant isn’t simply to record every transaction correctly, and make sure that the tax return is in order. That’s just a mere plateau, the very basic level. But I aspire to do much more than that for my employer. I always strive to find creative ways of cutting tax expense, or save my employer money in some other way. Not many accountants have such an attitude to work. In terms of weaknesses, I would pick perfectionism, and sometimes also expecting too much from myself, which can easily lead to a crisis of motivation or even mental health issues. I’ve been there before, and I know that I cannot be so hard on myself, if I am to enjoy life and my career, and achieve my best for my employer on an ongoing basis.
- One thing I definitely struggle with are computers. I am an old school accountant. Having had this job for over thirty years, I can count everything with the help of pen and paper and a basic calculator. Depending on your perspective, it is either a strength, or a weakness. Because when someone relies only on computers to do their job, in the moment the computer stops working, or they lose their data, or simply cannot use the computer for any other reason, they are lost, and won’t manage to do anything. On the other hand–and I am aware of it, computers make our work much easier and faster, and also more accurate. And I should definitely rely on them… Well, I believe I’m not too old yet to fail to learn something new. Hence I try with the computers, I am getting better, but still it is definitely my disadvantage when you compare me with younger applicants. On the other hand, I believe I can compensate for it with my vast experience and excellent face to face communication skills.
- I’d say my biggest strength–at least in relation to this particular job offer, is the fact that I’ve been working as a cost accountant for four years already. I won’t start from scratch in the field, I’ve been doing the same job for years, and understand the ins and outs of the profession. What’s more, I enjoy my work immensely, which is something I believe you cannot say about that many accountants. On the other hand, my weakness–or least what I observed as such over those four years–is that I sometimes over-complicate things, digging too deep, which means that it often takes me longer to get the job done. But I am trying to improve on my weakness, and find the right balance, that means paying attention to detail but at the same time working effectively.
- Speaking honestly, I believe my former managers would be able to say better. Because I am never quite satisfied with my skills, or even with my results. I always try to improve on everything I do, be it at work or outside of it. So I may be too critical on myself, because I do not think I am a great accountant at the moment. I still have to learn a lot to consider myself as such. But I’ve achieved good results in my former job, and perhaps my former managers would point out certain strengths, or they even see my accounting skills in a different light. However, I want to continue in my pursuit of perfection, and hence I do not want to boast here about my strengths. It’s just not my attitude to work or life.
* May also interest you: How to dress for an interview? – 5 things to consider when choosing your clothes.
Admitting a weakness is also a strength
Let’s face it: perfect employees, or perfect accountants, do not exist. Hiring managers are well aware of it. It doesn’t matter if we talk about a fresh graduate or someone with twenty years of accounting experience. Everyone has some weaknesses–be it on a professional level, or on a personal level. But only those aware of their weaknesses can actually improve on them.
Do not be afraid of admitting your weakness. It is even more important than pointing out some correct strengths, relevant for the job. Once you admit your weakness, however, ensure the interviewers that you aren’t satisfied with the status quo, and try your best to eliminate your weakness, or at least to minimize the impact it has on your work and relationship with your colleagues. That’s the attitude they are looking for.
Experience, or a lack of it, is always a go-to answer
When you cannot figure it out, or decide which strength or weakness to pick, you can always refer to your experience. Either you have it–which is a big plus, especially if you’ve worked in the same field, on same types of transactions, or you don’t–and then it is your weakness, but one that will eventually diminish over time, because you will naturally gain it in your new job.
Some job seekers think that they have to talk about their character and personal traits once questioned about their strengths and weakness. But that’s not true. You can talk about your character, but also about your education, experience, attitude, or anything else that will help you in the job (as your strength) or will hinder your progress as an accountant. Broaden your horizons, read my sample answers one again, and pick one for your interview answer.
Ready to answer this one? I hope so! But it is not the only tricky question you will face in your accounting interview. Check also sample answers to the following questions:
- Why do you want to work as an accountant?
- Describe a time when your work was criticized and how you responded.
- Tell us about a time when you had to make a decision without all information you needed.