Accounting Interview Questions and Answers
When you're interviewing for an accounting position, the interview questions will vary depending on the job. Accountants have important roles in virtually any business, organization, or government agency that handles money. Those that are not large enough to hire in-house accounting staff often hire accountants as outside contractors. Accountants also work for financial advisory firms, for banks, or as tax advisers.
Accounting Interview Questions
While you should never try to present a false front during a job interview (among other issues, your interviewer might notice and decide that your lack of candor is a red flag for deeper problems), you can increase your chances of interviewing well and getting hired by practicing with some typical questions.
Prepare answers to these common accounting interview questions, and give yourself a leg up on the competition:
1. What do you consider to be the biggest challenge facing the accounting profession today?
There is no one right answer to this question, but you should be able to demonstrate knowledge of and commitment to your profession by having a well-thought-out and intelligent answer.
The interviewer wants to see that you are familiar with the industry and its challenges and that you care about your job enough to have an opinion.
2. Which accounting applications are you familiar with?
There are countless accounting software packages out there, and you can’t possibly know them all.
That said, if you only know how to use one software package, that could look bad – even if the application itself is well-regarded. Know enough about the tools of your profession to have an opinion on which are good and which are not so good – and be ready to defend your answer. Know about recent developments in relevant software.
3. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of different accounting packages you have used in your most recent accountant jobs.
Be prepared to share specific examples of the pros and cons of the accounting software you have used.
4. Describe any accounting process that you have developed or sought to improve.
If you’re still early in your career, you may not have developed any processes yet, but you should be ready to demonstrate that you can innovate.
5. Describe a time when you helped to reduce costs at a previous accountant job.
All accountants should be able to reduce costs. That is a major part of why employers hire them. Describe a time when you reduced costs unexpectedly through your personal innovation or diligence. Have the financial details of your success available in case your interviewer asks you to elaborate.
6. Describe a time when you had to use numerical data or a graph to convince a manager.
Discuss how data or a chart or graph helped you make your case, and how the outcome worked in the organization’s favor.
7. Describe a time when you had to work exceptionally hard to provide great service to a customer or client. What did you do and what was the outcome?
Share information on what you did to provide service and how you accomplished it.
8. Describe a time when you faced a particularly demanding deadline to prepare a financial statement or report. How did you react? What was the result?
If you don’t have a professional example to share, a relevant experience from college might work. Regardless of the example you pick, do not exaggerate or over-dramatize for effect. Your interviewer will notice, and might decide that you’re being less than honest.
9. How do you ensure that you do not forget details and ensure accuracy when you prepare monthly journal entries, record transactions, etc.?
Almost everybody forgets small details sometimes – except accountants, who can’t afford to. What do you do to make sure you don’t forget or unintentionally alter important numbers? If you happen to be a savant who doesn’t need any special method, be sure to explain this so that your interviewer knows you are not simply trying to make yourself look good.
10. Describe a time when you had to explain a complex accounting issue to someone with without an accounting background. How did you help your audience understand the situation?
Your ability to communicate with non-accountants may be very important, especially if you will be in an advisory role with direct contact with clients or with team members from other departments. Emphasize your communication skills and storytelling talent, as well as your ability to work as a part of a team.
More Interview Questions and Answers
Typical job interview questions, plus sample answers you can use to practice for a job interview.
Questions to Ask the Employer
Don't forget to be prepared with a list of questions to ask. Here are interview questions to ask the employer, as well as questions you shouldn't ask an interviewer during a job interview.