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Accountant Interview Questions

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Accountants prepare and analyze a company’s financial records. Accountant duties and responsibilities typically include reconciling bank accounts, recording monthly expenditures, preparing tax returns, ensuring the accuracy of financial statements and conducting forecasting and risk analysis assessments.

When hiring an accountant, look for ​​knowledge of fiscal programs, budget control methods and accounting theory, as well as familiarity with popular accounting software packages. Great candidates for your accountant role may also have strong time management skills, attention to detail, and logical and analytical thinking skills.

Ask 5-10 of the following interview questions to get a better sense of a candidate’s accounting skills and experience.


  1. Which accounting platforms have you worked with? See answer
  2. How have you used automation or workflow streamlining to improve your accounting processes at previous jobs? See answer
  3. What do you do when you have a tight deadline and multiple accounting projects to finish? See answer
  4. How do you answer questions from clients who don’t have any background in accounting? See answer
  5. What strategies do you use to detect fraudulent entries in a journal or ledger? See answer
  6. How do you maintain accounting accuracy? See answer
  7. How have you helped companies or clients save money or better use their available financial resources? See answer
  8. How do you feel about working with other accountants on a daily basis? Can you give me an example that demonstrates your teamwork skills? See answer
  9. What do you do to make sure you maintain up-to-date knowledge of accounting software and practices?
  10. How would you describe the role of an accountant within the larger framework of an organization?
  11. Can you tell me what the three types of financial statements are and why they’re important to accountants?
  12. You discover a discrepancy between the total assets on a balance sheet and the total liabilities and shareholders’ equity. What is your process for investigating this discrepancy?
  13. Are you okay with completing work after business hours and potentially on weekends to help our business during tax season?
  14. Can you define and differentiate between accounts receivable and accounts payable?
  15. How would you define working capital and its role in corporate finance?
  16. What is deferred revenue and what is it categorized under on the balance sheet?
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8 Accountant Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

Which accounting platforms have you worked with?

A:

Experienced accountants often have worked with multiple accounting applications or enterprise resource planning systems. This question allows the applicant to show their familiarity with prominent accounting and business software packages. Look for answers that include the name and version of the software, as well as the features the applicant is most familiar with. What to look for in an answer:

  • Familiarity with prominent software packages
  • Understanding of how to use basic features
  • Willingness to learn new platforms
Example:

“I used QuickBooks when I worked at a small business and Microsoft Dynamics GP at larger enterprises. I’m most familiar with QuickBooks Online and helped my previous employer track and categorize their expenses and invoices.

Q:

How have you used automation or workflow streamlining to improve your accounting processes at previous jobs?

A:

Experienced accountants learn how to do their jobs more efficiently by using advanced tools or software features. The applicant reveals whether they try to look for ways to continually improve their processes and how to use tools to accomplish this goal. What to look for in an answer:

  • Creative thinking
  • Understanding of accounting business processes
  • Strong skills in the accounting solution
Example:

“I synchronized the business bank accounts and corporate credit card statements with our accounting solution to decrease how much I had to type manually. I used the extra time to look into accounting discrepancies and follow up with employee expense reports.”

Q:

What do you do when you have a tight deadline and multiple accounting projects to finish?

A:

Many accounting projects have a strict deadline, and accountants may be working on more than one at a time. This important question gives you insight into how the job seeker prioritizes tasks and responds to high-pressure situations. What to look for in an answer:

  • Time management techniques for quickly and accurately entering transactions
  • Good prioritization for focusing on the most important accounting duties
  • Multi-tasking for completing different types of reports at the same time
Example:

“I would focus on the most time-sensitive tasks first, as well as those that other people depend on to move forward on the project. If I needed additional resources to remain on schedule, I would ask the appropriate department.”

Q:

How do you answer questions from clients who don’t have any background in accounting?

A:

Accountants may need to explain processes or concepts to other people in your organization who don’t know anything about accounting. Look for a response that conveys a willingness to simplify complex information and present it in an easy-to-understand fashion. What to look for in an answer:

  • Teaching skills
  • Fundamental understanding of accounting concepts
  • Patience
Example:

“I would use analogies to help the person understand the information that I’m trying to convey. I wouldn’t use any terminology that’s accounting-specific, as that would make it difficult for this person to follow along. I spent a lot of time talking to the software development team about what the accounting team needed in our applications. I framed everything in technology terms, such as referring to a general ledger as a database.”

Q:

What strategies do you use to detect fraudulent entries in a journal or ledger?

A:

Accountants need to remain vigilant in fraud detection to protect the company’s finances and values. The applicant should have familiarity in using a combination of software features and their own judgment to identify unusual or fraudulent patterns. What to look for in an answer:

  • Understanding of common fraudulent behavior
  • Familiarity with fraud monitoring tools
  • Appropriate ethics
Example:

“I use proactive monitoring features in the enterprise resource planning platform I use, alongside manual spot checks. The automated monitoring catches errors and anomalies that may indicate fraud. I conduct a thorough investigation and double-check the numbers to discover what happened.

Q:

How do you maintain accounting accuracy?

A:

A small mistake could cost your organization a lot of money, especially if it goes undetected. Applicants should have several ways to check the accuracy of their accounting, as well as know what to do if they make a mistake. What to look for in an answer:

  • Detail-oriented mindset
  • Ability to recognize and address mistakes
  • Dedication to accuracy
Example:

“I use every tool and resource available to check my work and limit the potential for an error to slip by. At my last job, employees used Expensify to track receipts when they went on business trips. I looked at the real-time reports and compared them to the credit card statements to confirm the numbers. When errors do happen, I address them quickly to limit the damage it could cause.”

Q:

How have you helped companies or clients save money or better use their available financial resources?

A:

Accountants can identify areas of wasteful spending and put together strategies to reduce unnecessary expenses. Look for answers that display logical and analytical thinking, with critical problem-solving skills. What to look for in an answer:

  • Going the extra mile for their organization
  • Developing optimization processes
  • Reviewing historical data
Example:

“I looked through the company’s financial trends to discover redundancies in the business service contracts during slow seasons. By moving to a lower service tier when the extra capacity isn’t needed, the company reduced costs by 15%.”

Q:

How do you feel about working with other accountants on a daily basis? Can you give me an example that demonstrates your teamwork skills?

A:

Accountants perform mathematical calculations that contribute to paychecks, tax returns and financial statements. Being able to work with others and ask for assistance is an important trait for accountants, as it helps them catch and correct accounting errors. This question helps interviewers verify whether a candidate can work well with other accountants to uphold the accounting operations within their company. The candidate's answer should emphasize:

  • Team-oriented mindset
  • Personableness
  • Communication skills
The following response is an example of how a great candidate might answer:
Example:

"I enjoy working with other accountants and finance professionals as we can check each other's work and investigate discrepancies when comparing the total assets on the company balance sheet to total liabilities and shareholders' equity. In my previous job, I worked with four other accountants. We divided accounting duties and took on additional work when someone was out sick. During tax season, we worked long hours, and it was super helpful to be part of a team as it made the processes faster and more efficient."

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    Last updated: Apr 21, 2021