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Accounts Payable Specialist Interview Questions

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  1. What strategies do you use to keep track of accounts, tasks and stay organized? How do you decide which task to tackle first? See answer
  2. What types of bookkeeping software have you used in the past? See answer
  3. Imagine that while reviewing vendor invoices, you discover that a vendor has underbilled us compared to our purchase order records. What do you do?
  4. Describe your level of experience making spreadsheets and reports on the computer?
  5. Can you describe a time when you couldn’t resolve a discrepancy in an account or ran into a technical roadblock?
  6. A vendor claims they haven’t received their check for the previous month’s work, but you mailed out their check last week. What do you do?
  7. Can you tell me the difference between accounts payable and accounts receivable?
  8. Can you describe your role in helping an employer prepare for tax season?
  9. How do you stay energized throughout the workday as an accounts payable specialist?
  10. What counts as a short-term liability? How do short-term liabilities differ from long-term liabilities?
  11. What happens to a bill in accounts payable after you pay it off?
  12. You still have vendors to pay, but there isn’t enough cash flow. Where do you get the money from?
  13. In your opinion, what is the relationship between the accounting team and the sales team in accomplishing accounts payable tasks?
  14. Why are invoices important when reviewing accounts payable?
  15. Have you ever disagreed with a coworker about how to complete accounting tasks? How did you address the situation and maintain your professionalism?
  16. Do you have experience with making electronic payments to vendors? What software are you most familiar with using?
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6 Accounts Payable Specialist Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

What strategies do you use to keep track of accounts, tasks and stay organized? How do you decide which task to tackle first?

A:

Accounts payable specialist positions require superb organization skills to keep track of financial documents. While many of the technical skills accounts payable specialists use every day can be learned on the job, organization is more difficult to teach. Highly organized candidates will cite specific strategies they use to stay organized while less organized candidates will have a more general response to this question.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Level of detail in the response
  • How the applicant approaches scheduling and prioritizing tasks
  • Past experience overcoming organizational challenges

Example:

“I start my day by making a list of the most important tasks that I have to accomplish and create folders for each task.”

Q:

Imagine that while reviewing vendor invoices you discover that a vendor has underbilled us compared to our purchase order records. What do you do?

A:

Accounts payable specialists are often tasked with maintaining vendor relationships through prompt payment of bills and careful handling of billing discrepancies. Most companies have clear policies on how to record and reconcile account discrepancies. This question reveals an their general knowledge of record keeping as well as their ability to follow company policy. It can also give insight into their customer relations skills.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Attitude to company policy
  • Willingness to seek help
  • Recognition of the need to reconcile the accounts

Example:

“I’d refer to company protocol and follow standard procedures to address the discrepancy and ask someone higher up for help if it wasn’t clear.”

Q:

Describe your level of experience making spreadsheets and reports on the computer.

A:

Accounts payable specialists must have strong computer skills to perform their daily tasks. A familiarity with basic spreadsheet and document creation programs is a requirement of most accounts payable specialist positions. Applicants must be able to clearly describe these programs and their uses in order to prove that they have the basic level of computer proficiency required for the job.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Level of familiarity with the programs
  • Examples of past work experience that required these programs
  • Overall computer literacy

Example:

“I started using these programs in high school but really became familiar with them in my first job where I used them every day.”

Q:

What types of bookkeeping software have you used in the past?

A:

Bookkeeping software is used by many companies that employ accounts payable specialists. While bookkeeping software can be learned on the job, prior familiarity with this type of program demonstrates past job experience and the ability to learn advanced programs. An applicant’s answer here can also demonstrate how comfortable they are working with unfamiliar software and learning new skills on the job.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Past job experience
  • Comfort with advanced computer tasks
  • Willingness to learn new programs

Example:

“I mostly used QuickBooks at my previous job, but I also taught myself Zoho Books and Xero when I was in school. I’ve seen changes in the industry and always updated my skills as necessary.”

Q:

Please describe a time when you couldn’t resolve a discrepancy in an account or ran into a technical roadblock.

A:

No matter how much skill or practice applicants have, there will always be occasions when they have to learn something new. In addition to providing insight into their past accounting experience and technical abilities, this question reveals how they deal with challenges and frustration. An candidate’s answer here reveals how much they rely on others to come up with a solution.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Level of technical proficiency
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • A routine that includes double checking

Example:

“I had to format a report in a way our accounting software didn’t allow. I exported it to another program and made changes there.”

Q:

A vendor claims they haven't received their check for the previous month's work, but you mailed out their check last week. What do you do?

A:

Accounts payable specialists interact directly with vendors to make sure they get paid. Their ability to handle complex situations is important in maintaining positive relationships with vendors. This question allows interviewers to gauge a candidate's customer service skills and their commitment to protecting their company's financial information.

A candidate's answer should emphasize:

  • Customer service skills
  • Smart financial practices
  • Problem-solving skills

Here is one example of a quality candidate answer:

Example:

"The first thing I'd do is issue an apology on behalf of myself and thank them for bringing the issue to my attention. Then I'd do some investigative research to make sure the check hadn't been cashed yet. Once I confirm that the vendor or an unknown entity didn't cash the check, I'd cancel it and let them know that another one was on its way."

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    Last updated: Apr 21, 2021