COMMON ACCOUNTING INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
By ConnectPoint Search Group
The interview is scheduled, and it is time to make a great impression! Accounting professionals, when preparing for an interview, there are a few key questions that you should plan for that will review your experience, background, accuracy, prioritization, and communication. While technical questions will vary depending on the specific role, preparing for the following common accounting interview questions will help to land your dream job!
5 Common Accounting Interview Questions
The following are common accounting interview questions that you should prepare for in advance of your interview…
1 | What accounting software programs are you familiar with?
Many companies utilize enterprise resource planning (ERP) software solutions or other platforms to manage their accounting. A hiring manager will likely ask this question to determine your experience, technological abilities, and any potential training that would be required, should an offer be made. Can you hit the ground running on day one or will extensive training be quired before you reach full productivity? Many software solutions are similar and if a candidate can successfully work in one, it is likely that those skills can be transferred to a similar system with minimal training.
Prepare a list of your prior software experience and bring it to the interview. Avoid simply listing off the technology that you are familiar with, as if it were a grocery list. Instead, explain how you used each software and note your level of experience in them.
Further, ensure to thoroughly review the job ad before your interview and note mention of any specific software knowledge that the company desires for a candidate to have. If you are not familiar with that software, prepare accordingly by researching the software to learn more about it before your interview. When asked about your experience with the software, respond honestly and ensure to confidently note your ability to quickly learn.
2 | What is your industry background?
Regulations, policies, and procedures differ across industries and it is not uncommon for companies to seek candidates with specific industry experience. When answering this question, hone your response to emphasize your background in the industry or industries relevant to the role. If you are unsure what industries the company specializes in, this is a great opportunity to ask the interviewer and open the conversation.
If you do not have experience in the specific industry for which you are interviewing, expand on how other industry experience you have could be applicable. For example, if you are a candidate with public accounting experience interviewing for a private company, discuss your experience across industries and how this diversifies your skills.
3 | How do you minimize the risk for errors in your work?
Accounting professionals take on a great responsibility to perform with precise accuracy because even the smallest error could lead to detrimental consequences. Companies must feel confident that they can rely on those they hire to be committed to accuracy; when an interviewer asks this question, they tune into your processes and how you establish a system of checks and balances to avoid errors. When responding, ensure to explain how you perform the work, review it, and crosscheck. Include specific examples and emphasize your process to minimize miscalculations.
4 | How do you organize and prioritize your day?
There are many moving parts that comprise an accounting professional’s daily schedule so an interviewer will need to be able to determine if candidates have keen prioritization skills and can efficiently organize their days. Between juggling various processes, cross-functional collaboration, client communication, and impending deadlines, how do you determine what takes precedence? Provide a response that clearly explains your organization and planning processes, communication efforts, and time management. For example, do you plan your schedule by the day, week, and/or month? Do you utilize a checklist system to manage your to-do list? How do you determine what tops that list? How do you communicate with involved parties and where does that time fit in?
Additionally, the ability to flexibly navigate through your day is essential; how do you handle urgent (unplanned) matters that need attending to or a sudden increase in workload? Provide specific examples to showcase how you prioritize your time.
5 | How do you explain a complex accounting process or financial data to managers, clients, or other laypeople who do not have a background in accounting?
When an interviewer asks this question, their purpose is to learn about your communication skills. An essential competency of an accounting professional is to be able to simplify and clearly present complex information to people who do not speak the technical language of accounting. This question also confirms that a candidate fully understands the information themselves.
In order to successfully answer this question, thoroughly explain your process of communication in such instances, providing specific examples. For instance, reviewing financial statements and interpreting common acronyms may be second nature to you as an accounting professional… how will you explain it to someone who is entirely unfamiliar with them?
Tips for Successful Interviewing
HONESTY IS KEY
An interviewee should be able to clearly communicate their knowledge, skills, and experience in a confident and concise manner. If you do not know the answer to a question or lack the questioned experience, honesty is key. It is best to admit that you are not familiar with or do not have experience in that area. Integrity is essential and the interviewer will appreciate your candor.
The interview process can feel overwhelming. Therefore, it is helpful to prepare for your interview and practice your responses to these common accounting interview questions. Likewise, for additional assistance in formulating clear and complete responses, practice the S.T.A.R. METHOD.
An interview will gauge professional, technical, and behavioral skills/experience to determine the company and position fit of a candidate. Interviewers often ask S.T.A.R. questions because they want to know whether you have had the experiences that prove you can handle the position. S.T.A.R. interview questions are also a great way to learn how a candidate thinks.
For more information on the S.T.A.R. METHOD and additional samples of common interview questions, download your complimentary copy of ConnectPoint Search Group’s Interview Question Guidelines & Samples here.