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Account Management Interview Questions & Answers

by Linda Ray

Account managers work in a variety of fields ranging from advertising to insurance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the primary responsibilities of account managers are to prospect and bring in new accounts to the firm and then to manage the needs of those clients. While technical industry-specific knowledge is important for account managers, well-honed customer relations skills are vital. Effective interview questions and answers best reveal those skills.

Show Off Strengths

Recruiters believe that candidates possess the basic attributes needed for the job, such as being friendly and customer-oriented, a team-player and solution-oriented. According to Insurance Resourcing, if you didn’t already possess those basic qualities, you wouldn’t even have been asked in for an interview. To stand out, you should present examples of how you relied on your customer-oriented attitude to keep a frustrated client or how the boss turned over an important account to you while he was out of the country. Examples and success stories best illustrate the strengths needed in an effective account manager.

Stress Successes

When asked to talk about previous successes, you’re given the opportunity to share specific examples of how you applied your skills to serve both the account and previous employers. Prepare detailed success stories in advance to take full advantage of the opening question. Stress highlights by including actual numbers such as “50 percent increase,” “20 percent higher retention rate after two years on the job” or “30 percent increase in orders from existing accounts.” Bring up actual figures such as “$100,000 in additional revenue” or “an increased value in new accounts of $1 million.”

Emphasize Solutions

Most interviewers include questions that call for candidates to relay negative experiences or weaknesses. In every response, talk about how you solved a problem or found ways to improve. For example, if you lost an important account, you might relay the lessons learned from the experience and how you turned around your overall retention rate as a result. If you had issues turning in correct written reports, you might explain how you took a writing course to improve your skills and was lauded by a company auditor as having the most complete reports on the staff.

Showcase Presentation Styles

Recruiters want to know how account managers think and interact with co-workers and clients. They want to see how you handle conflict and deal with stress, how well you work on a team and what aspirations you have for the future. Various direct questions can bring out those answers and give interviewers a general perception of your style of communication. Quick changes in the direction of questions from the personal to the technical can reveal how you react under pressure and how you control your emotions. Stories and examples that highlight conflicts with co-workers and how you resolved them give interviewers a glimpse into your maturity level. Answer direct questions about your goals with industry projections about future trends and how you plan to tap into those trends to be successful. According to talent manager and author Dr. John Sullivan at ERE.net, answers that reveal your knowledge about the company also showcase your commitment to and understanding of the position.

About the Author

Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."

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