Each corporation, NGO, or basically any other institution which works with money, has to keep books and pay taxes. Unless their representatives want to end in prison… Companies either employ accountants directly, or hire external accountants and tax managers, working as freelancers or for some accounting firm, to outsource their accounting.
Tens of thousands of accountants work all around the world, and the interview for this position belongs to most typical job interviews. We will have a look at one question now, which you will almost always face: Why accounting? You will face it in the interviews, but you will often also have to answer it when writing a short essay, while trying to study accounting at the university. It has different variations, such as “Why do you want to work as an accountant?”, “Why did you decide for accounting and not for another field?”, etc. But the principle is always the same.
You can talk about a variety of reasons in your answer–your skills, predispositions for the job, your career goals and plans (and the role position of an accountant play in them), your motivation, duties, education, etc. Let’s have a look at sample answers.
7 sample answers to “Why do you want to be an accountant?” interview question
- I’ve always excelled in Math and similar subjects at school. I enjoy working with data, and feel that analytical skills and attention to detail are my greatest strengths–at least when we talk about employment. I believe that we should do for a living what we enjoy doing, and for me that’s exactly accounting, and everything that belongs to it–taxes, laws, etc. That’s the main reason why I decided for this profession.
- My ultimate goal is to become a head of a financial department of some big company. I dream of running a big budget and having a huge impact on the success of an organization, ideally one I like, one that works on something important in the world. Before it can happen, however, I have to understand the ins and outs of running the business, I have to see behind the numbers. Position of an accountant seems to me like a perfect choice, at least at this stage of my professional career. It’s definitely the right step towards my ultimate goal.
- To be honest, it’s almost a family tradition. My father was an accountant and so was my grand father. I saw them working, I talked with them about their craft, and I enjoyed my time with the numbers. Having said that, my father is already retired, he doesn’t have his own office now, or anything similar. And I am not really an entrepreneur by heart. While I enjoy recording transactions, keeping books and submitting tax returns, I do not enjoy the “business part” of working as a freelance accountant–marketing, looking for clients, etc. That’s why I apply for a job with you.
- Well, I’ve been pursuing this career for many years now. Choosing accounting for my major, and later passing the CPA exam, I’ve been doing everything to have the best possible chance to get an accounting job with one of the big 4 companies. And today I am interviewing in one of them… Honestly there’s no way back, but I am not looking for one either, because I still want to work as an accountant, still haven’t lost passion for my field. Let’s hope I can succeed today.
* Do not forget to check: All entry level accounting interview questions.
- I’ve been working as an accountant for fifteen years, leading my own office. But you know how it goes in the business–new players enter the market, they offer unbeatable prices, they take your clients over. Then of course they have minimal margins, cannot afford to employ assistants and eventually end up out of business, because they work 20 hours a day and not earning much. To be honest I got tired from competing with such lunatics, closed my office and decided to pursue a career of a corporate accountant.
- I just feel that the job is a perfect match for my skills and preferences. I’ve always excelled with numbers, and I rarely make mistakes in my work. I can spot things others fail to notice, in the books, on the cash flow statement, with the tax return. In my opinion we should look for career that mirrors our strengths–it’s an only way to be successful in a long run. I honestly believe that I have what it takes to become an excellent accountant. And that’s the main reason why I decided to apply for this job and not for another one.
- I just enjoy what accountants do on a daily basis. It is as simple as that. I prefer to work on my own, head buried into books, and I like to work independently, without supervision, bearing the full responsibility for the results of my work. Reading the job description, line after line, I get an impression that career in accounting is the best possible match for me. Of course only time will tell whether I was right, but I am 100% sure that I want to give a shot to this career.
Words alone won’t convince the hiring managers
Do not forget that your non-verbal communication matters, as well as your tone of voice. Can they hear some enthusiasm in your voice, once you talk about your career choice, or about the duties you will be responsible for in your accounting job?
And how do you look overall? Do you look like you are happy to be in the room, perhaps even thrilled, because this is the career you’ve dreamed of for years? Or do you look like someone resigned, someone who simply has to be in the room, because they already invested years and savings into their studies, and now basically have to apply for the job, so all those investments do not end up in vain?
Think about it for a while. Your verbal and non-verbal communication has to correspond. That’s the only way to succeed in this interview…
Do not be afraid to dream big on your essay
Should you answer this question as a part of a study program application, writing an essay, you should dream big. Who else can be idealistic if not young people? Feel free writing that you want to be an accountant because you want to make a big difference in your career. Perhaps working for one of the multinationals and eventually spearheading their entire accounting department. Or working for some NGO, helping them to save money, so they can use more funds for their worthy activities.
Needless to say, the chances that you will eventually have such a career aren’t big. And maybe you do not even dream about such things… When applying for a prestigious study program, however, and competing with many other students with similar credentials, it is important to try to stand out, to get noticed. Maybe you cannot stand out with your grades or resume, but you can set yourself apart with your dreams and ambitions. Your essay definitely gives you such an opportunity, so use it wisely.
Hope this helps, I wish you good luck! And do not forget to check 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions you may face while trying to get a job of an accountant:
- Accountant – Tell me about yourself
- Accountant interview – Why should we hire you?
- Accountant interview – What are your strengths and weaknesses?