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Forensic Accountant Employment Interview Questions

by Linda Ray

Forensic accountants usually are certified public accounts and provide many of the same services as CPAs, such as examining financial statements for accuracy, inspecting accounting books and procedures and assessing the financial management strategies for companies. The field of forensics calls for additional skill sets that should be explored in a job interview, such as the ability to work well with law enforcement, a solid understanding of the law and investigative techniques, and the ability to speak well in court.

Explain the Process

Recruiters want to know how you think and arrive at your conclusions, so they will ask you for examples of your processes. Rather than just compiling figures and completing financial reports, forensic accountants must be able to piece together a story of how a company arrived at various conclusions about their finances. To highlight your analytical skills, you should be able to talk about the processes you use: how you start a project, what kinds of paths you might take and how your process leads to answers. Give an example of a particularly difficult assignment and go over the process you used to arrive at your conclusions to solve a case.

Communicate Complexities

Well-developed analytical skills may allow you to crack any kind of forensic puzzle, but you also have to be able to explain your findings. When asked to talk about your skill level or to provide specific examples, use layman’s terms so the recruiter realizes your ability to translate your findings effectively. If you can’t communicate your complicated formulas into language that juries and clients can understand, the information may be useless, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Tout Your Credentials

You will be asked about your training and experience during the interview. You can prepare by building a portfolio of your certifications and credentials. The Certified in Financial Forensics credential is one of the most recognized in the industry and, in addition to your certified public accountant designation, will show that you’ve undergone the requisite training for the position. Through your training, you’ll study family law, forensic techniques, fraud prevention and financial statement misrepresentation, among other topics. Talk about which areas most intrigued you during your training and how you will be able to best use your training for the firm you’re interviewing with.

Relay Relevant Abilities

An important skill needed by forensic accountants is the ability to interview subjects under investigation. According to the Journal of Forensic and Investigative Accounting, exceptional investigators have mastered interviewing skills that often are overlooked in standard training programs. When asked what you bring to the table, highlight the psychology courses you took or the experience you have in conducting successful interviews. The added skill set you bring up in the interview may be the clincher to set you apart from the competition.

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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