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Accounting Interview

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    Job Interviews Careers Accounting

45 Accounting
Interview Questions

    Accounting

  1. Tell me about a time you updated or revised an Accounting process.

    • ANSWER ADVICE

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      This is a question that if you have no experience cannot be fabricated or guessed. You have to be honest with your experience, otherwise you're being unethical. Ethics is an important role for any Accountant and demonstrating this in your interview is important. If you have experience revising or updating a process or control, this is where you explain your experience, keeping in mind any NDA agreements you've signed. Once again, this points to ethics.

  2. Give an example of when internal controls needed to be changed or updated and how you handled the change.

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      This is a SOX related question. SOX compliance is critical for publicly traded companies because controls are constantly evolving as the company grows and change. If you have no experience with this, be honest and use your ability to learn quickly and adapt well to change. Mention how compliance changed drastically after ENRON and WorldCom. If you have experience, then describe the exact change that occurred unless you're prohibited from revealing details due to an NDA agreement.

  3. In what instance would you use LIFO compared to FIFO?

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      This is an inventory-based question. LIFO, or Last In First Out compared to FIFO, First In First Out. If you have personal experience, always draw on that for an answer. If you don't have personal experience, then provide an analogy that would help explain not only the difference, but the importance. Understanding various industry inventory methods is important for this. A food service business will always want to use FIFO, whereas a manufacturing company that doesn't have products that expire will use whatever is most convenient. The Accounting method changes based on the inventory method. While not a lot of companies use LIFO due to the government's indecision on whether to accept it and the additional documentation it requires, the tax implications are less compared to FIFO.

  4. Give an example of when you have seen or corrected the Trail Balance from being out of balance?

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      After posting all transactions from an accounting period, the trial balance is checked to verify that the total of all accounts with debit balances equals the total of all accounts with credit balances. The trial balance lists every open general ledger account by account number and provides separate debit and credit columns for entering account balances. An accurate Trial Balance means that debits and credits are in balance. If you have experience with out of balance books, this is a good time to demonstrate that knowledge. Be honest about the process you used to correct it, and ensure that you don't reveal any sensitive information. Generally, when you're talking about the financials of a previous company, you don' need to provide the company's name. Remember, everyone is a potential investor of your previous company, so you don't want to information leaked and the company stock falling because of a comment you made in the interview.

  5. Describe a time when you had to use numerical data or a graph to convince a manager.

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      Discuss how data, a chart, or a graph helped you make your case, and how the outcome worked in the organization's favor. If you don't have any working experience, then describe an class assignment. It's important to create visuals because sometimes simply showing numbers on a screen doesn't work for some people. Having a visual is a helpful way to get you point across.

  6. What cost-cutting initiatives have you been part of?

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      This is a very straightforward answer that can be successfully answered by anyone who has had any job in any field. Draw on personal experience of cutting costs whether it was at the fast food place where you worked during high school or cutting costs in your own budget to ensure timely bill payments. If you have accounting experience with cutting costs, this is the perfect place to demonstrate that knowledge.

  7. Give me an example of how your strengths help you in Accounting.

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      This is a subjective question and one that will be asked (maybe in a different way), but this is the strength vs. weakness question. I'd focus on about 2-4 strengths and give an example. Common list of strengths to choose from are: 1) Organizational and planning skills. 2) Perseverance. 3) Persuasive ability. 4) Communication skills. 5) Leadership ability. 6) Stress tolerance. 7) Ability to learn and apply new information and skills. 8) Flexibility. 9) Trustworthiness. 10) Detailed oriented. 11) Reliable. 12) Unwavering. 13) Ethical. Always try to give an example of how you've used your strengths to improve your performance or your company in some way.

  8. Give me examples of the accounting reports you've prepared.

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      The interviewer would like you to demonstrate your experience in maintaining accounting principles, practices, and procedures. As an accountant, it's critical that you ensure accurate and timely financial statements and reporting. Discuss the ability to meet tight deadlines and undertake a multitude of accounting activities. Many entry level individuals will not have experience in preparing accounting reports. If you're new to your career, don't worry about this. Discuss what you learned in school instead. Discuss a project you enjoyed, such as creating the chart of accounts or a hypothetical month end project you may have worked on.

  9. What courses were your favorite in college while preparing to be an accountant?

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      Be honest. If you didn't have a favorite then pick the class you did the best in. If college was 15 years ago, then talk about some of your most important learning experiences with the updated laws and regulations that have been enacted. You don't want to sound like your bragging, but you do want to brag a little. This is a good time to casually mention the grade you got in that class or the way you were able to implement what you learned into your work.

  10. What financial planning have you handled in the past?

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      Financial planning has to do with the stock market. This could be for a financial analyst position or financial planning position. This means looking at someone's finances, finding out how much they can and will invest, and where they should invest it. It requires an analysis of their age, financial status, and the length of time they want to invest. This can be used for anything from saving for retirement to someone wanting to make big market money moves with a day trader.

  11. Cost Accountant

  12. Why did you choose Cost Accounting rather than another field of accounting?

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      Because there are so many choices when it comes to types of accounting, the hiring manager should have a good understanding of why you specifically chose cost accounting. Talk to the hiring manager about your choice and why you are pleased with it.

  13. Bring your experience to life for me and highlight some of your biggest wins in your career as a Cost Accountant.

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      The interviewer would like to have an overall snapshot of your career successes. Discuss with the hiring manager some of your proudest career moments. Take the time to bring your resume to life for the interviewer.

  14. Have you ever used an SAP or ERP program? If so, which one(s)?

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      Tell the hiring manager about any type of SAP/ERP program that you have been exposed to, and how comfortable you are in using these types of programs.

  15. What was the most difficult assignment you have faced? How did you complete the task?

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      As a cost accountant, you will often face difficult and challenging tasks. Share with the hiring manager how you are able to complete these tasks and face these workplace challenges with confidence.

  16. Are you familiar with Simply Accounting? Rate yourself as a Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced user.

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      Discuss with the hiring manager your level of knowledge in Simply Accounting. If you have been recently tested on your abilities, be sure to include those results as well. Mention any courses or additional training that you have taken in Simply Accounting.

  17. How long do you see yourself working for our company?

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      The interviewer would like to know that you see this role as a long-term fit. What would cause you to stay in a position long term? Talk to the hiring manager about your previous tenure and discuss what motivates you to continue working for a company.

  18. Tell me about any disputes you have surrounding material costs for a particular project you worked on.

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      The interviewer would like to know about a time that you have had to dispute material costs. Assure the hiring manager that you are capable of managing any material cost disputes. Keep your reply concise and avoid speaking negatively about any conflicts that have come up in your current role.

  19. Are you a detail oriented person? Do you like to be organized?

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      As a cost accountant, it is incredibly important that you pay close attention to detail and remain highly organized. Tell the hiring manager about your abilities in these areas and be sure to include any feedback that you have received from previous supervisor reviews.

  20. How do you handle a larger than average workload?

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      The interviewer wants to be assured that you can handle the workload required of you in this position and that you will not become overwhelmed if/when workloads unexpectedly increase. When workloads increase, stress levels do too. How do you react?

  21. Why do you feel cost accounting is important in our business?

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      The interviewer would like to have the assurance that you take pride in your work and understand why your role as a cost accountant is essential. It is critical to display to the hiring manager that you know the significance of your role as a cost accountant. Do you feel that you play an active role in the success of your organization?

    READ: View All Cost Accountant Interview Questions

  22. Staff Accountant

  23. Are you willing to work overtime, nights, weekends?

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      Be candid and open with the interviewer expressing what type of availability you have. Be sure to factor in your family's activities, and understand that you may be disqualified from consideration if you are unavailable to work weekends and it is a requirement of the position. It is better to make this determination during the interview process rather than after starting in the position.

  24. Tell me about a suggestion or successful contribution you have made in your past job or in college?

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      Employers are looking for team members who will be actively involved in the department. How have you been actively involved? Have you initiated a positive change within the department or on a college project? Have you thought of a process improvement that was implemented? Or, have you completed a major project for the team? Go ahead and share how you have contributed while being actively engaged either in the workplace or in college.

  25. What do you know about our company?

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      With any job interview, it is crucial to understand the organization you are applying to. We recommend visiting the company website to learn key information such as current seasonal promotions and ongoing events. Watch the videos on their website, and take note of the information on their Careers page if one is available. Come prepared to list 5-6 things you learned from the company's website such as number of locations they have, when the company started, who started the company, mission statement, vision statement, core values, etc...

  26. What is your greatest strength? How does it help you as an Accountant?

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      What things have you repeatedly been complemented for? What are the common positive comments you receive on your performance reviews? These can be great starting points for identifying your greatest strength! Share one of these things with the interviewer stating that others have told you this is your greatest strength. Next, share how this strength will help you as an accountant. You might say something like this, "I have been told by past managers that my greatest strength is my ability to strike up a conversation with anyone! As an accountant, this will help me build relationships with my clients making us a stronger team."

  27. What is your greatest weakness? What are you doing to improve it?

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      Pick one of your weaknesses that is not a necessity for the role. Be candid and humble in your answer recognizing that you really aren't great at something and acknowledging your need to improve. Be sure you have an action plan in place for improving on this weakness too. Perhaps you are watching speakers talk about the weakness, reading the latest-and-greatest book on the subject, or maybe you are taking a seminar at a nearby community center in the near future. We are all human and all have weaknesses, so don't be afraid to share yours!

    READ: View All Staff Accountant Interview Questions

  28. Senior Accountant

  29. Describe to me what qualifications you feel a person applying for this position will need, in order to have the most success?

    • ANSWER ADVICE

      Tell the hiring manager that you are able to understand the qualifications required to be successful in this position and that you personally possess these qualities.

  30. Tell me about a time you handled a complex financial project with a tight deadline that required precise data collection and analysis.

    • ANSWER ADVICE

      Assure the hiring manager that you are able to meet very tight deadlines on complex projects. Give an example of the project by discussing the clients' needs, any support you have received during the project, what the expectations were, and how you met them.

  31. Do you work well under pressure?

    • ANSWER ADVICE

      As an Accountant, you will often be working on high pressure deadlines. Assure the hiring manager that you are able to be productive even under high pressure situations.

  32. What are your short-term career goals as an Accountant?

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      Talk to the hiring manager about the type of growth that you would like to see in your immediate career. Discuss why this is important to you and what you plan to do to get there.

  33. We require a Senior Accountant with strong technical skills. Are you able to quickly learn new programs?

    • ANSWER ADVICE

      It is important to be technically savvy. Talk to the hiring manager about your ability to learn new programs and use a variety of software.

    READ: View All Senior Accountant Interview Questions

  34. Accounting Clerk

  35. Give me an example of a time you handled documentation preparation for an audit. How did you ensure you had everything required?

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      Accounting clerks have to wear many hats. Not only do they have to reconcile financial data, but they have to prepare it for the auditors. If you have experience with this, it will be an easy question. Most companies have a system or a list of things required for auditors that clerks have to prepare. If you don't have experience, then be honest. It will show your integrity and you can use another story that shows that you're highly organized.

  36. Give me an example of time you caught an accounts receivable error and how you fixed it.

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      This is a straightforward question. If you've worked in accounts receivable before, you've likely found an error, whether it was yours or someone else's, and you followed a process to correct it. Explain that process here. If you don't have experience with this, be honest. Entry level candidates are just that, entry level. Provide a story when you found an error at work or school and how you corrected it. This isn't to boast, but to demonstrate your attention to detail, which is important.

  37. As an accounting clerk, you'll act as the receptionist for the accounting department. What reception experience do you have?

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      Some smaller companies use accounting clerks as receptionists as well. This is a question you'll have to be prepared to answer. Accounting clerks must cover a wide variety of functions beyond financials, so having some reception and human resources knowledge is helpful. Being too proud to answer the phones or do no accounting tasks could cost you a job that could turn out to be an amazing opportunity. There are personal assistants that make six figures that started as accounting clerks. They took on various tasks and worked their way up to the highest tiers of the corporate ladder in this role.

  38. In your previous accounting experience, what's the toughest group you had to get cooperation from? How did you handle it?

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      Getting buy-in can be a challenge from time to time for various reasons. Possible issues might include: major company changes, new company vision, launching new company processes, or even cultural differences. What has been your toughest sell to get the cooperation of others? Often, it's the situation that's challenging and not the group itself. Begin by telling the interviewer your situation. What were you trying to get cooperation for? Who were you trying to get cooperation from? Next, share the group's reaction. What kind of pushback did you get? Then, share how you successfully overcame the pushback to achieve cooperation from the group. Sometimes departments do not mesh well together so when you are reliant on another department to get you data it can sometimes be a challenge.

  39. What is your personal method for double checking your work?

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      In other words, what steps do you take to ensure the accuracy of your work? The interviewer simply wants to hear that you have a plan in place to catch any possible errors. Accounting is a detail-oriented field, and the interviewer wants to know you can be trusted with these details. Share what steps you take to ensure accuracy. You might discuss that you utilize a buddy system to check each other's work. You might mention that you simply re-work each task to ensure your numbers match. Or you might mention that you double check your totals by dropping the data into an Excel spreadsheet. Simply share what works for you. Having a plan is key.

    READ: View All Accounting Clerk Interview Questions

  40. Project Accountant

  41. Provide an example of a project you had to complete in a short period of time, and what you did (alternatively, would do) to successfully complete the project in a timely fashion.

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      Your answer must provide information as to your time management skills and ability to work under pressure. Answer this question by giving an example of a project which you have demonstrated your ability to prioritize, manage your time and go above and beyond to ensure successful project completion. What did you do differently? Did you delegate? Did you work longer hours? Do you enjoy working on such projects?

  42. How do you determine accurate labor costs for a particular employee that has worked on several projects?

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      Answer this question by providing information as to your organizational and project management skills.

  43. How would you come to a resolution disputing material costs for a project that you shared materials with?

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      Provide an answer outlining your team-playing and dispute resolution skills.

  44. Tell me what your greatest weakness is, and what you are doing to improve yourself in that area.

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      Tell the interviewer your greatest weakness which can nevertheless benefit you in this position.

  45. Please confirm when you received your Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation, or alternately when you plan on receiving one of these designations.

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      Tell the interviewer whether you already received any of these designations and when, or when you will be receiving them.

    READ: View All Project Accountant Interview Questions

  46. Junior Accountant

  47. What are your career goals as a Junior Accountant?

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      In other words, what do you hope to achieve in this position? This question is all about you, and the interviewer is trying to determine if they can help you achieve your goals. What are you hoping to get out of this position? Simply share what you hope to achieve in this position, and be sure to mention that you look forward to learning as much as possible along the way!

  48. How do you minimize the risk of errors in your work?

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      The interviewer wants to hear that you have some sort of method for ensuring the accuracy of your work. Do you read your work out loud to help you catch errors? Do you utilize dual monitors to help you cross-check information? Do you use a buddy system to cross-check each others work? Whatever method you are accustomed to using, share it with the interviewer!

  49. Tell me about your math skills.

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      Basic math is essential for an accountant, and the interviewer is trying to learn more about your level of expertise. Share what college math courses you took. Talk about what math you typically utilize in your job on a day-to-day basis. Mention any math honors that you have received such as winning a math competition, and be sure to mention how you utilize programs like Excel to keep math simple on the job!

  50. Describe a situation in which you received instructions with which you disagreed.

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      The interviewer wants to hear that you work for the betterment of the organization while respecting your company's leadership. Think about a time a decision was made that you disagreed with yet you had a positive reaction. Tell the interviewer the instructions you were given and explain why you disagreed with the instructions. Next, describe your positive response. Did you simply comply with the instructions because you wanted to respect your leadership team? Did you mention key information that the person may not have thought of before giving you the instructions that made the person change their mind? Be sure to mention that being a team player is key, and there are times when you just go with the flow of leadership's direction, and there are times when you need to speak up with key information that others may not have thought about.

  51. Are you efficient with your time?

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      Yes, I am!. You understand that all accountants have a lot of work to accomplish every day, and you must be efficient with how you use your time to achieve your goals. You may even mention that you spend time each day prioritizing your focus for that day to ensure you are meeting deadlines, responding to urgent needs, and staying on track with meeting goals.

    READ: View All Junior Accountant Interview Questions

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