Top 20 Interview Questions for Accountant Jobs
Top 20 Interview Questions for Accountant Jobs
If you are to ace your interview when trying to land a new accounting position, you will need to prepare and do your homework as articulated over at runrex.com. To help you with that, here are the top 20 interview questions for accountant jobs as well as how to answer them to help you prepare.
Describe one of the biggest challenges in the accounting field and how you strive to overcome it.
This question is designed to assess your overall knowledge of the accounting industry according to guttulus.com. The interviewer wants to make sure that you are informed when it comes to common yet significant challenges and they are hoping that you have a plan in place for dealing with the inevitability when it occurs. You can mention frequently changing laws and regulations as the biggest challenge, for example, and then explain how you tackle the challenge.
Do you have prior experience with ERP systems? If so, which ones?
If you are interviewing for an accounting position at a big company, then you should expect this question. This is because, as discussed over at runrex.com, many larger organizations rely heavily on enterprise resource planning (ERP) software solutions, and by asking this question, the interviewer is trying to determine whether you could potentially hit the ground running on day one or if you may require training before you can reach fill productivity.
What impact do you think AI and automation will have on accounting?
As the gurus over at guttulus.com point out, this question technically doesn’t have a right or wrong answer as it is designed to check your level of awareness about a critical trend that will significantly impact the accounting field. The interviewer also wants to gauge whether you are concerned about AI and automation, or are interested in its potential and are open to embracing it.
What accounting processes are you most familiar with?
This question is designed to give the interviewer an idea of the type of functions you have performed within accounting and how the work you have done before is relevant to the work you would be doing in the new role if you are hired. When answering this question, think about your past and current responsibilities as they relate to performing technical accounting work and how they will help you in the role you are interviewing for.
What is your technical experience with accounting software?
The interviewer will be looking to assess your experience using accounting tools and software in your day-to-day work when they ask this question. If you have experience using the specific software that the company you are interviewing with uses, then even better. Take a look at the job description of the role to see which software and tools the company uses to ensure that you are prepared to speak to your experience with using the ones specified in the job description.
What is your background working in various industries?
The interviewer will ask this question to see if your experience aligns with the company’s size and industry. As discussed over at runrex.com, rules and processes differ across industries since accounting is such a vast profession. Think about the role and company you are interviewing for when answering this question. If you are interviewing to be a private or internal accountant, the interviewer will primarily want to hear about your experience and interest in the company’s industry, but if you are interviewing for a public accounting role, they will want to hear about your experience across industries since you will likely have different types of clients.
Do you have your CPA?
According to guttulus.com, the Certified Public Accountant license is the ultimate certification, and it shows commitment to the profession. If you have your CPA, it will make you stand out against the competition. However, there are many other certifications in accounting that you could pursue, and having a CPA isn’t the only way. When answering this question, tell the interviewer briefly and straightforwardly about your CPA or other certifications, or your progress toward them.
How do you handle challenging situations or difficult conversations with others?
During the course of your work with internal or external clients to get the books in order, you are likely to encounter a discrepancy with a client or find yourself in a situation when an account reconciliation is inaccurate and you have to confront your colleague about the error. This question is designed for the interviewer to see that you have no issue handling difficult conversations and are efficient at quickly solving problems that may arise, especially if you are under a tight deadline as outlined over at runrex.com. When answering this question, avoid badmouthing your previous company or colleagues as this could reflect poorly on you as a future employee or coworker.
How do you organize and prioritize your day?
The work of an accountant is driven by processes, impending deadlines, and a ton of cross-functional collaboration, which is why you should demonstrate organization, time management, and healthy communication between your team and clients when answering this question. There is no right or wrong answer here, just share what has worked for you to stay on task and on time.
Tell us about a time when you were up against a tight deadline. How did you handle it?
Time management is a crucial skill for any accounting job as there are many regulations that companies must abide by for compliance measures. This means that working with a difficult-to-meet deadline at some point is almost inevitable, and, by asking this question, interviewers want to know that you are up to the task. Since it is a behavioral question, answer it using the STAR method, and make sure you show that you are solutions-oriented and don’t mind stepping up to the plate when duty calls.
How have you added value to your company outside of your client activities?
Depending on the company or path you are on within accounting, and especially if you are an external auditor, hiring managers might want to understand how well-rounded you are and how committed you would be to getting involved internally. As per the gurus over at guttulus.com, this question provides you with an opportunity to show leadership skills beyond the day-to-day requirements of your accounting work. If you have helped with business development activities to grow the practice or led a committee or initiative, those are positive factors to demonstrate your versatility.
Why did you choose accounting as a career?
If you don’t seem to enjoy your career or have any reasons why it interests you, then the employer will be worried about your ability to stay motivated, work hard, work through difficult days/weeks, and so forth as explained over at runrex.com, which is why this is a common interview question. Therefore, you should be ready to explain why/how you chose accounting as a career, and also highlight one or two things you enjoy about it such as working with numbers among others.
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. As outlined over at guttulus.com, your response will show the interviewer your knowledge as well as your critical thinking and assessment skills.
Describe any accounting process that you have developed or sought to improve
This is another common question when it comes to interviews for accountant jobs. If you are still early in your career, you may not have developed any processes yet, but you should be ready to demonstrate that you can innovate. Think about something that you have helped change or develop over the past few years.
Describe a time when you helped to reduce costs at a previous accounting job
A major part of why employers hire accountants is their ability to help reduce costs. Therefore, you should be able to describe a time when you reduced costs unexpectedly through your personal innovation or diligence. You should come armed with the financial details of your success in case your interviewer asks you to elaborate.
Describe a time when you had to use numerical data or a graph to convince a manager
As is elaborated upon over at runrex.com, when answering this question, you should discuss how data or a chart or graph helped you make your case, and how the outcome worked in the organization’s favor. An ability to use data and visualizations to convince the decision-makers of the organization they are working for is a desirable trait in an accountant.
How do you ensure that you don’t forget details and ensure accuracy when you prepare monthly journal entries, record transactions, etc.?
While almost everybody forgets small details sometimes, this shouldn’t be the case for accountants who can’t afford to according to guttulus.com. When answering this question, share your strategy for making sure you do not forget or unintentionally alter records. Rather than simply saying you are good with details or are not prone to mistakes, you should try to go a bit deeper in your answer.
Describe a time when you had to explain a complex accounting issue to someone 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 as explained over at runrex.com. When answering this question, emphasize your communication skills and storytelling talent, as well as your ability to work as part of a team.
What are your greatest accounting strengths and weaknesses?
This question requests information on your work-related strengths and weaknesses as they relate to the accounting industry. When answering this question, be sure to include examples. Discuss a few strengths and when you sued them or how you apply them to the open position. When discussing your greatest weaknesses, be sure to include steps that you are taking to overcome them.
Why are you interested in this company?
As an accountant, you will have no shortage of paths, fields, and organizations to choose from. Whether you want to work at a nonprofit, corporation, or university, you will have a few choices. The interviewer will, therefore, want to assess how committed and enthusiastic you are about joining this company in particular. When answering this question, connect the dots between your career goals and the company, show the interviewer that you have done your research about the company and that your professional goals and values align with those of the company.