Even with a degree in accounting, you need to pass through an interview test to become a practicing Accountant. Understanding the nature of questions to expect is very essential. Here we have compiled common interview questions and answers for accountants.
The competition in the Accounting field is on the increase due to the high number of Accounting graduates and Professional Accountants. Submitting your resume for a preferred accounting position does not automatically give you the job. Rather, in order to get an accounting job position, you need to acquire the necessary skills as well as prepare for the job interview.
Therefore, if you got an interview invite for the position of Accountant, you certainly wouldn’t want to blow it up. Read on to know the frequently asked accounting interview questions, how to answer the questions and make a good impression, possible answers as well as tips for the interview.
Nature Of Accounting Interview Questions
As the language of business and a core indicator of an organization’s growth, Accounting is an important part of any organization. Therefore, when organizations want to employ an Accountant, they usually hire someone who has good knowledge in the field.
Just like every other interview, an accounting interview is a face-to-face conversation where the interviewer asks specific questions to the interviewee who in turn answers them.
Typically, accounting interview questions differ among organizations; some are industry-specific. However, accounting interview questions are generally a mix of questions about accounting issues and your own accounting skills, as well as, behavioral questions regarding soft skills, character, and work habits.
Read on to know what to expect and how to make a good impression in an accounting interview.
What Should I Expect In An Interview For Accountants?
As said earlier accounting interview questions can come as a general mix depending on the industry. However, due to well-defined technical skills and regulatory requirements, accounting interviews are usually very straightforward.
Therefore, as an accountant preparing for the interview, below are the nature of questions to expect:
Basically, these questions should determine if the applicant’s skills and education match the job’s requirements. Here, accounting interview questions should focus on the skills and training needed for GAAP standards and company accounting requirements.
What are the general requirements of GAAP? Are private companies required to follow GAAP? What accounting courses did you take? What is the most important accounting lesson you learned in college? Do you plan on continuing to stay current on regulatory changes and accounting trends?
Here, questions focus on previous work experience and problem-solving skills. Basically, these questions should determine if the applicant is capable of handling stress and decision-making within the parameters of the job. In a situation where an applicant has little or no experience, hypothetical situations can then be used.
How do you react when things do not go as planned? Explain a time when you were left to make an important decision that would affect the company. Describe a period when you had to develop a solution to a problem. How long did it take you and how did it make you feel? How did others in the team react to the decision; did they cooperate with you or resist your authority?
Typically, career questions focus on the applicant’s career and educational goals. These questions should determine if the applicant is the right person for the company over the long term. Here, the questions are straightforward because they work best when determining if the applicant will fit into the company.
- Why did you choose to major in accounting?
- If given another chance, would you still choose accounting as a career?
- Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?
- Do you think being an accountant has given you the job satisfaction that you thought it would?
- Why should I hire or employ you?
- What makes you stand out from your peers; toot your own horn?
- Describe yourself and your accounting skills?
How to Make the Best Impression In An Accounting Interview
As important as anything, you will love to make a good impression of yourself to your interviewers. To do this, follow these strategies that have worked overtime:
Do not come later than the stipulated time and please dress well. You dress the way you want to be addressed. Therefore see yourself in the position of an Accountant and dress as such.
Shaking hands if possible (no sweaty palms, please!) and smile when you meet your interviewer. Also, during the interview, make eye contact, have good posture, and keep up a professional, enthusiastic attitude.
Your answers should be concrete; this is where you can practice the answers to some common questions we will provide.
Sending a thank you is simply a simple courtesy. It is a polite act, and also serves as a way of reminding the interviewer of your qualifications.
Tips On How To Pass Accounting Interviews
Your awesome resume and cover letter are not enough proof to give you the accounting job, hence the need for the interview. You need to show that you are the right person for the position during the accounting interview.
Here are some tips to help you in the accounting interview:
#1. Be prepared for questions: You have to keep practicing your responses ahead of the accounting interview. Also, review the job description again before the interview in order to know which of your qualifications and skills to focus on.
Preparing a few examples and stories that will demonstrate those skills and show your value as an employee will go a long way.
#2. Do research: Have background knowledge of the company and what they do before the interview. The more you know about the company, the more you can personalize your responses in the interview.
In addition to searching for news stories about the company and browsing their website and social media, you can also go through your interviewer’s profile on LinkedIn.
#3. Look organized: Accounting is a professional field; as such, you need to look organized. Looking organize is an important skill for many roles but in particular demand for accountants. On the interview day, bring multiple copies of your resume in a neat portfolio and also make sure your interview outfit is particularly neat as well.
#4. Have questions ready for your interviewers: You can show your interviewers that you are interested in the accounting position and the company by preparing some questions for them. These questions can include:
Accounting Interview Questions And Possible Answers
Below are some frequently asked interview questions for Accountants and the approach to answering them.
#Question 1: Which accounting applications are you familiar with?
What Interviewers Want to Know: There are many applications out there, and no one person could know them all. Basically, the interviewers want to know if you are aware of more than one application and have knowledge of the tools of the profession. In addition to listing the ones you prefer (and why), you could also talk about recent developments in relevant software.
I am most familiar with ABC Company Name’s accounting software since it’s what I used day-in and day-out in my previous positi1on. I have also used X and Y accounting applications in other roles. And, after a former co-worker recommended it, I recently started an online course in how to use the Z application for businesses.
#Question 2: Describe a time when you helped to reduce costs at a previous accounting job.
What Interviewers Want to Know: Basically, accountants should be able to reduce costs. This is a major reason why employers hire them. Describe a time when you used your personal innovation or diligence reduced costs unexpectedly. Have the financial details of your success available in case your interviewer asks you to elaborate.
Often unused licenses to software programs that charge a per-license fee (regardless of whether the licenses are in use or not) take a significant amount of budget.
I led an audit of our software, spending time with each department to understand what programs and services were in use. Through the audit, we discovered that several departments had purchased programs that did essentially the same task and that we were paying for more licenses than were being used.
Therefore, I did an analysis to uncover that streamlining our programs could result in a 15% savings in this area of the budget, and presented my findings to the executive board.
#Question 3: What do you consider to be the biggest challenge facing the accounting profession today?
What Interviewers Want to Know: There is no specific answer that is right to this question. Rather 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 also care about your job enough to have an opinion.
For instance, recent changes to the tax code are one big challenge for the industry since we have to go through all the new rules and guidelines and adjust accordingly. Therefore, responding to new tax laws is familiar to the accounting industry.
Another challenge for everyone in the field is technology. Readily available online accounting services can make the job of a seasoned professional seem less essential, which means as accountants, we have to offer clients something that a computer cannot.
#Question 4: 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?
What Interviewers Want to Know: Time management is an important skill for accountants, who deal with multiple deadlines throughout the year. Here, they want you to share an example that shows how you smoothly handled the situation. Try your best to avoid exaggerating, which could be seen as less than honest by your interviewer.
The most difficult deadline I can remember was preparing the year-end FY report at ABC Industries because there is so much prep work involved. Also, there were many dependencies on other team members’ providing data from their departments.
The good news, however, is that everyone knows how important it is to create and present the findings in this report. So, my co-workers were really good at sticking to the deadlines I established for turning in information (and I built in a few extra days of wiggle room just in case, too).
#Question 5: Describe a time when you had to use numerical data or a graph to convince a manager.
What Interviewers Want to Know: Discuss how data or a chart or graph helped you make your case, and also, how the outcome worked in the organization’s favor.
For years, my company had been turning to the same vendor to stock paper products. However, despite increasing moves away from paper, and toward online communication each year, the overall price we paid went up.
My manager was reluctant to dissolve the relationship, because finding new vendors can be difficult. I showed a chart of the year-over-year increase, as well as researching alternatives and getting bids for services, and showed her that we could be saving 40% on these costs. Seeing the data on the chart was tremendously persuasive.
#Question 6: 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?
What Interviewers Want to Know: Interviewers want to see how hardworking you are. In addition, they want to know how much you are willing to go the extra mile beyond the job description or the 5 p.m. end of the day. Here, you can share information on what you did to provide service and how you accomplished it.
One story really comes to mind here. In my role as an accountant for ABC Company, which served small businesses, we had a new client who recently started a small business. His business was doing well, but it was clear that bookkeeping was not his favorite.
So, it would have been easy to sell him a package he couldn’t use on his own and lock him into an annual subscription. Rather, I provided four training sessions on the software so he could independently track his sales and expenses. Since then, he has recommended us to other small businesses that signed on to our services because of his praise.
#Question 7: Walk me through the three financial statements.
What Interviewers want: Here, they want you to give a brief explanation of the three financial statements.
The statement of financial position shows a company’s assets, liabilities, and shareholders’ equity. On the other hand, the income statement outlines the company’s revenues and expenses. Meanwhile, the cash flow statement shows the cash flows from operating, investing, and financing activities.
#Question 8: If I had only one statement and wanted to review the overall health of a company, which statement would I use and why?
What Interviewers want: They want to know if you really understand the purpose of each financial statement.
Cash is king in most businesses. Therefore, the cash flow statement gives a true picture of how much cash the company is generating.
That being said, it is also important to note that all three statements truly are required to get a full picture of the health of a company.
#Question 9: What happens on the income statement if inventory goes up by $10?
What Interviewers want: They are still testing your understanding of financial statements. Nothing; this is a trick question. The only impact of inventory will be on the statement of financial position and cash flow statement.
#Question 10: What is working capital?
What Interviewers want: Here, they want are testing your basic accounting knowledge.
Basically, working capital is defined as current assets less current liabilities. However, in banking, working capital is normally defined more narrowly as current assets (excluding cash) less current liabilities (excluding interest-bearing debt).
#Question 11: What does having negative working capital mean?
What Interviewers want: Here, they want are testing your basic accounting knowledge.
Negative working capital is common in some industries like grocery retail and the restaurant business. In the case of a grocery store, customers pay upfront, inventory moves relatively quickly but suppliers often give 30 days (or more) credit. This means that the company receives cash from customers before it needs cash to pay suppliers. Therefore negative working capital is a sign of efficiency in businesses with low inventory and accounts receivable. However, in other industries, negative working capital may signal a company is facing financial trouble.
More Interview Questions and Answers For The Position of An Accountant
#Question 12. How many types of business transactions are there in accounting?
There are two types of business transactions in accounting. They are revenue and capital transactions.
#Question 13. Explain real and nominal accounts with examples.
A real account is an account of assets and liabilities. For instance, land account, building account, etc.
On the other hand, a nominal account is an account of income and expenses. For example, salary account, wages account.
#Question 14. Do you have knowledge of accounting standards?
According to Bill Driscoll, a senior district president for technology staffing services at Robert Half International, this question requires a two-part answer:
“First and foremost, be sure to share if you have knowledge of accounting standards such as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and Sarbanes-Oxley,” he says.
“Then, explain the depth of your knowledge, how it applies to the role you are applying for and how you stay up-to-date with changes and developments.”
#Question 15. Do you have experience doing/handling X, Y and Z?
According to Andy Hsu, director of corporate finance and accounting practice at Michael Page, avoid saying no even if you don’t have any.
Instead, tell them how motivated you are to have the opportunity to learn X, Y, and Z. Also, when interviewers ask you to walk them through your resume, pick out the accomplishments that tie into the job description. The message here should be that there is nothing that you can’t do.”
Hsu suggests that it can help to have notes handy about any relevant strengths you have for the position. He also added that it is wiser to say your experience is limited in XYZ, but you do know ABC. Do not give the interviewers a reason not to hire you.
If you are truly interested in a role, then, your enthusiasm can make up for a few skill gaps. For instance, if you don’t hit 10 out of the 10 prerequisite skills or types of experience, but maybe you hit eight. Hsu also suggests that on the other two, you find a way to highlight elements of your background that relate tangentially, to overcome the missing bullet points.
#Question 16: What methods have you used for estimating bad debt?
Typically, this question can open a conversation about the ways you have approached this routine process with previous employers.
According to Driscoll, your answer can reveal the level of your understanding of the methods most commonly used. It can also open a dialogue about how the company you are interviewing with handles this.
As an accounting graduate or a professional in the field, your resume will only get you in the door with a prospective employer. However, your performance in the interview sets you apart from the other applicants. Therefore, taking time to study potential interview questions for the position of an accountant will help you prepare for your interview.
I hope the Accounting interview questions and answers as wells as the tips given above helps you in your next job interview.
Good Luck An Success!!!
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