Invoicing and collecting payments is one of the most troublesome parts of being an accountant. No one wants to be the bill collector, but sometimes we can’t help it – it’s part of the job. You get anxious and prepare yourself for a battle over a bill; you also get frustrated because the client simply doesn’t understand that this is business, not personal.
Most invoice disputes can be handled through conversation, and misunderstandings are unavoidable and can escalate quickly, particularly when a large amount of money is involved. Thus, when you’re applying for an accounting position (where invoice disputes are always encountered), the hiring manager will be interested in how you handle these issues. He or she wants to hear how you deal with clients and customers; the interviewer wants to assess the depth of your patience, and wants to see if you’ve been involved in an invoice dispute and you resolved it.
How do you answer his or her question? How do you convince the interviewer that handling invoice disputes is a manageable task for you? There are a number of ways to do that, and here are five of them:
1. Prepare yourself beforehand by listing all of the qualities that an accountant should have when dealing with invoice disputes. Come up with a simple and professional yet impressive answer. Moreover, include these things on your list:
- Make all of your facts available. It’s easier to handle disputes when you have your facts and evidence at hand. Chances are, you and your client will come up with an agreement in little to no time.
- Be objective and firm. Understand the client’s situation, yet don’t forget to be rational. Calmly address the issue, and offer a solution if needed.
- Be organized and prepared. Prepare a contract, and never begin work without it. Before you work with the client, you should have already prepared for it so that if things don’t come easily, you’ll have the contract as a proof of your agreement.
2. Show the interviewer how understanding and calm – but also firm and objective – you can be. They’re looking for an applicant who has the ability to deal with stressful situations like this, so demonstrate your stress management skills.
3. Cite an example. The best way to explain how you handle an invoice dispute is by telling a story from your previous experiences. If you’ve already experienced it, then that’s better because you can now at least tell the interviewer how you were able to resolve it. On the other hand, if you don’t have any experience, you can at least create a scenario and describe what you would do to properly deal with the issue.
4. Be specific, especially when explaining the resolution to the problem. The interviewer is most interested in how you managed to come up with a solution, so be brief in the storytelling part and focus the conversation on your solution.
5. No matter how exciting your story is, you have to keep your answer short and simple. Even if your story sounds very interesting, the interviewer has other things to do. Don’t waste his or her time by saying something that he or she didn’t ask about in the first place. In other words, get straight to the point.
Handling invoice disputes can be a tough task in your position, but it can also be perfectly manageable if you know what to do. Sure, it can be stressful and nerve-racking, and the most important part is keeping yourself calm and composed. Follow these steps when answering interview questions about invoice disputes, and you could definitely find yourself on the short list of applicants.