Accounting interview questions and how to answer them

Interview

Being invited to interview signals that a company believe you could match their vacancy – but you must convince them. Along with dressing the part and knowing your CV back-to-front, you will need to answer a slew of accountancy questions. GAAPweb have compiled some of the most common accounting interview questions, so you can know what to expect and prepare accordingly.

Common accounting interview questions

  • What knowledge do you have of accounting standards?
  • Which accounting platforms and programmes are you familiar with?
  • Tell me about a time you led the implementation of a new or improved process.
  • How do you go about detecting fraud in the ledger or journal on which you are working?
  • How do you ensure accuracy and minimise error in your work?
  • In which kind of working environment are you most productive?
  • How do you respond to finance questions from non-finance colleagues, management or clients?

Accounting interview questions and how to answer them

What knowledge do you have of accounting standards?

For questions like this you will need to first explain which accounting standards you are familiar with. Secondly, the interviewer will expect to hear about the depth of your knowledge and how you intend to apply your understanding of accounting standards to the role.

Which accounting platforms and programmes are you familiar with?

As well as possessing a high level of Excel proficiency, employers will expect you to have experience using specialist accounting platforms or ERPs. Be detailed in your answer, offering names and versions of the specific platforms you have worked with. Explain which features you know best and how you have used these programmes to your advantage in previous roles. It is also a good idea to express your willingness to learn how to use systems and platforms that you are currently unfamiliar with.

Tell me about a time you led the implementation of a new or improved process.

Your answer to this kind of question will tell the interviewer whether you are a proactive or reactive worker. As an accountant your employer will expect you to be highly proactive, so when answering this question, you need to highlight the foresight you possess to address financial risks before they manifest. Describe to the interviewer any specific occasions where you made recommendations to improve or streamline processes, and how you went about implementing the change.

How do you go about detecting fraud in the ledger or journal on which you are working?

As an accountant you are trusted to monitor and protect the integrity of a company’s finances, so you must be vigilant in the detection and reporting of any potential fraud. When answering this question, you need to express to the interviewer your understanding of the importance of fraud detection and prevention, plus any resources, tool or techniques you use to spot any possible fraudulent activity. Recount an example from your previous experience where you noticed potential fraud, how you spotted it and the subsequent actions you took.

How do you ensure accuracy and minimise error in your work?

As an accountant you have very little room for error – any mistakes you make that go unresolved can cause huge financial implications for the business. It is important here to stress the steps you take to ensure accuracy in your work. Explain to the interviewer all the tools and resources you use to spot errors and how you correct your mistakes. Don’t be afraid to describe errors you have made in the past as these anecdotes can reveal how you deal with inaccuracies and demonstrate your capacity to learn from mistakes.

In which kind of working environment are you most productive?

This type of question calls for existing knowledge of the role for which you are interviewing. The interviewer isn’t testing your accounting abilities but trying to determine if you are a good fit for the role and business. For example, an SME accounting role may often require you to work independently, whereas there is more possibility for collaboration and teamwork in a large finance department or in an accountancy firm. Make sure you research the role and company prior to interview so you can answer this kind of question as appropriately as possible.

How do you respond to finance questions from non-finance colleagues, management or clients?

With this type of question, the interviewer is assessing your communication and interpersonal skills, as well as your patience and any teaching talent you may possess. This is also a test of your accountancy knowledge; if you have a solid grasp of accounting fundamentals you will be able to explain complex financial information and concepts to non-finance colleagues using analogies and simplified terminology that they will understand.

Each job you apply for will come with its own unique set of requirements, challenges and responsibilities, so it follows suit that each interview you attend will also be unique. Prepare yourself fully by researching the role and company, getting to know your CV and using this guide to familiarise yourself with some of the most common accountant interview questions. Think you’re ready to interview? Search and apply for the latest accountant jobs today on GAAPweb.

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