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Accounting Clerk Interview
Questions

25 Questions and Answers by Samantha Hamilton
Updated February 4th, 2019 | Samantha H. has almost three years of experience
in recruiting and loves to help people obtain their dream jobs.
Job Interviews     Careers     Business    

Question 1 of 25

What do you do when priorities change quickly? Give one example of when this happened.

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Interview Questions

1.

What do you do when priorities change quickly? Give one example of when this happened.

Adapting to change is an essential part of any job, and interviewers want to hear that you'll happily adapt to change when necessary. Begin by telling the interviewer that you're an adaptable person, and you simply change directions when priorities change while maintaining a positive attitude. Next, think about a time when something really urgent came up. This is your example! There are all sorts of last minute urgent situations that might have occurred. Simply share yours with the interviewer. Try to connect this to an accounting clerk history so they know you can do this in the job and not just in life.

If you have no accounting experience, use an example from personal experience.

Samantha's Answer #1

"During my regular duties, my manager rushed in one day looking frazzled. I asked if she was ok and she said that her boss had arrived two days early and none of the reports were ready. She asked me to drop everything and handed me a list of reports we needed. I sent urgent emails and started pulling query reports myself to gather as many of the reports as quickly as possible. We were able to get all the documentation to review with her boss pretty quickly and he was satisfied."

Samantha's Answer #2

"In college, I worked at a hotel as a bartender. I was really motivated to learn new job functions so I'd also been trained on front desk and night auditor roles. On New Year's Eve, I was told to keep the bar open until two in the morning. I did and got extra tips from very happy guests. Our night auditor decided to do a no call no show, and the front desk associate had never been trained on night audit, so at one a.m. I was working both the bar and the front desk. After I closed the bar, I ran the audit reports and easily handled the night shift. I'd been scheduled for the 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift the next morning, so I continued my shift after trying to reach both the assistant manager and general manager. Neither responded. I was exhausted and still in my bartender uniform at 3 p.m. New Year's Day when the 3 p.m. girl called and quit. I was honestly about to cry. I was exhausted, no one was answering their phones, and I couldn't leave the hotel with only a limited housekeeping staff there. No one apart from myself was trained on the front desk. The assistant manager never showed up for his shift that day and the general manager was out of state on vacation. At 7 p.m. I finally got the GM on the phone and explained the situation. She called that night's auditor and he came in several hours early to relieve me. I worked from 2 p.m. New Year's Eve until 8 p.m. New Year's Day without a break to ensure that the hotel ran smoothly. Shortly after that, I was promoted to the assistant manager of the hotel. I believe it was my ability to handle changes and challenges that got me the promotion."

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2.

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

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.

Samantha's Answer #1

"At my previous company, we had an Excel spreadsheet with a master list of what the auditors would ask for and how to review the documents to ensure they were complete. I just followed the list and reviewed what was needed. I found one document that hadn't been properly updated and was able to send it back to the accountant on duty to revise it before handing over the audit package."

Samantha's Answer #2

"I've never had real world experience with this, but I'll say that in school I was part of the student government and had to organize everything as the secretary. I ensured everyone had the documentation they needed and kept track of all budgets and accounts to help the treasurer because they weren't as organized as me."

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3.

Do you enjoy working with deadlines?

This is a straightforward question. Most accounting positions have strict deadlines for the majority of their work. If you can't work with a deadline or are consistently late, that adversely affect your career if it hasn't already. Be honest if you struggle with deadlines and explain that it's something you're improving on daily to ensure you meet your company's timelines.

Talk about your time management system so they know you have something in place to help you meet all deadlines.

Samantha's Answer #1

"I'm great at meeting deadlines. I have a planner that I live by and as soon as I get a task, I break it down into manageable pieces and tackle them one at a time. I ensure that I always turn in my projects early if not on time."

Samantha's Answer #2

"I'm great with deadlines. I've never turned in a task late at school and with any job I've had so far."

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4.

What is your personal method for double checking your work?

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.

Samantha's Answer #1

"I tend to double check my work by completing a task, then putting it on hold for at least thirty minutes, then reviewing the data once more before submitting it. I find that if I missed anything, it will jump out at me when I review it."

Samantha's Answer #2

"I'll complete a task, take five minutes to review the process, then review what I completed before submitting it. That way I know if I missed anything."

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5.

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

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.

Samantha's Answer #1

"I found that a client had been paying ten dollars over their monthly bill at the internet company I worked for. There was no reason for that because they didn't have a balance to pay off beyond their monthly fee. After reviewing the account, I found they'd been paying too much for over a year. I spoke with my manager and we both called the client to let them know that due to the overcharge on their auto-pay, they'd receive free service for the next five months. We adjusted the auto-pay for the correct amount to be withdrawn on the sixth month. The customer was so excited that they weren't even upset about the overpayments."

Samantha's Answer #2

"I've never found an error working in accounts receivable, but when I was in college, I started handling the inventory for the restaurant where I worked and found we were being shorted a case of fries every order. I followed up with my manager, who contact the supplier and we were credited the money for the missing case. Apparently, it had been happening for a while and the delivery driver was retrained in how to verify deliveries."

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6.

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

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.

Samantha's Answer #1

"I have some reception experience with answering phones and directing calls. I handled the phones at a small marketing company for a year in college and it was fun. I didn't have to do much apart from direct phone calls and foot traffic when it came in."

Samantha's Answer #2

"I've never worked as receptionist, but I'm good at customer service and am a people person so I can definitely handle calls. I keep a very tidy filing system at my house and could definitely handle whatever tasks come along with that part of this job."

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7.

What's your career plan and how does the accounting clerk role fit into it?

This is a career oriented question. Where do you see yourself in five, ten, or twenty years? What are your long-term goals? All of this is basically the same but they want to know why this role fits into your long-term plans. Do you plan to stay with the company or are you a job hopper? While they may not ask this question outright, it's implied.

Answer honestly. If this doesn't fit into your long-term goals, then maybe you shouldn't be applying for this role.

Samantha's Answer #1

"This is a step toward my goal of helping a company grow. I'd love to start as a clerk here and work my way up to a management role or high level executive position within your company. Ideally when your CFO is ready to retire in about ten years, I will have worked my way up to be his right hand person and will be in line to take over his position."

Samantha's Answer #2

"Being new to accounting, the clerk role will give me the experience I need to qualify for my CPA exam. I'll be able to work with your CPA manager and learn from them while getting on-the-job training so I can sit for the CPA exam, which will help me get promoted later on."

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8.

How proficient are you with Excel? Please share some projects you created and regular accounting tasks you completed on Excel.

Be candid with the interviewer when sharing your level of experience with Excel. Your honest response will help the interviewer prepare a better training plan for you if you're hired for the job. Tell the interviewer if you're a beginner, intermediate, or advanced user of the system. Then share a few projects you created using Excel as well as accounting tasks that you regularly complete in the system.

Don't assume that you don't need Excel knowledge to handle an accounting role. Yes, there are many types of software available but none can currently replace Excel. It's the most widely used and most companies prefer it.

Samantha's Answer #1

"I'm an intermediate user. I can use formulas to do vlookups and concatenations. I'm well versed with most Excel functions but I can't do power queries yet. I'm open to training opportunities to further my knowledge on this."

Samantha's Answer #2

"I'm a basic user. I can do searches and filtering but haven't used it much in my career at this point. In college, I learned how to do use formulas like vlookups and hlookups, and feel comfortable doing those as well as pulling data from one tab and inserting it on another."

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9.

What accounting tasks did you perform at your former job?

The interviewer is trying to gain an understanding of your average workload in your most recent position. A great way to approach this question is to walk through a typical day or week at your most recent job. Discuss what accounting tasks had to be completed daily by providing a high-level overview. After doing so, be sure to mention your level of comfort with this workload. Did it feel comfortable for you? Were you bored in your past position? Or did you feel overworked?

If you have no work experience in accounting, be honest. This isn't the time to exaggerate your knowledge.

Samantha's Answer #1

"In my previous role, I handled all accounts receivable and payable. I balanced the books and ensured that all filing was up to date. I answered phones for the accounting department and routed inquiries where they needed to go."

Samantha's Answer #2

"I have no experience in the accounting world at this time. I'm eager to get my foot in the door and would love the opportunity to learn all the aspects of the accounting clerk role."

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10.

Give me an example of an accounting goal you set for yourself and achieved.

This is a variation on the standard question of goal-setting but with an accounting focus. They want to see that you can overcome obstacles and set your goals high. If you think that you haven't set or achieved goals in this area, then look to your education. You set the goal to become educated and take on this career, so you achieved whatever level of education you have.

If you're self-taught, that's also a goal. Discuss a project you took on or how you became interested in the field.

Samantha's Answer #1

"When I was in college, I worked as a receptionist at a dental clinic four days a week. Their accounting clerk walked out on them in the middle of month end. They asked for help because at the time, I was an economics major and somehow they thought that tied together. I dug in and learned a lot about accounting on the internet. When I got stuck, I went to YouTube and found these walk-through videos that taught me so much. Shortly afterward, I changed my major to accounting because I fell in love with the process."

Samantha's Answer #2

"The biggest accounting goal I set for myself was obtaining my Bachelor's degree in Accounting. I started school with no idea what I wanted to do, but after a lot of research and development, I was able to narrow the field to accounting. I set the goal of achieving my Bachelor's degree early to start my career. I was able to double my class load a couple semesters in a row and graduate a year early."

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11.

Outside of inputting sales and expenses, what other accounting tasks have you completed before?

This one should be easy! The interviewer wants to get a better understanding of your background. Break down your tasks by each past employer. State the name of the company, your job title, and the typical tasks you completed in each role. This will allow the interviewer to understand what tasks you're already skilled with and will help the interviewer implement a stronger training plan customized for you if you're selected for the position.

Bear in mind any non-disclosure agreements you've signed. It's not uncommon to sign an NDA in the accounting field. You're dealing with sensitive information, and if you leak that information, it could cost the company investors, which is why most companies require you to sign something. If you've signed an NDA, be vague about the company while going into detail about the work you completed.

Samantha's Answer #1

"At one of the companies I previously worked for, I handled all AR and AP to include updating journal entries and ensuring the accuracy of the general ledger."

Samantha's Answer #2

"While I've never worked in real world accounting, as a new graduate I took several courses on AR and AP. I also aced my auditing course as well as the bookkeeping courses. I can use several different accounting software programs like Quickbooks or XERO. I'm eager to learn and grow within this field."

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12.

Give me an example of an ethical dilemma you experienced regarding your work and how you handled it.

This is important because you'll have ethical dilemmas not just at work but in life. Having strong ethics is important in the accounting industry. Being able to differentiate right from wrong is very important.

Taking the ethical high ground is important in accounting. Unethical people only cause the company problems in the future. If you don't get hired because you're unwilling to bend your ethics, then you don't want to work there. It will ruin your career.

Samantha's Answer #1

"There was a month end when I found an error my manager had made. He asked me to adjust the balances to hide it. I told him I didn't feel comfortable with that and after some convincing, he let me adjust the balances to show the error, which we explained. No one got in trouble due to the low amount."

Samantha's Answer #2

"In college, I found out that this guy behind me was cheating by copying from my exams. I knew this was unethical so instead of turning him in and getting him kicked out of school, I offered to tutor him. We spent two nights a week studying together and he agreed to move seats to the front of the class where he couldn't see anyone else's paper. He ended up passing the class with a B and avoided unethical situations moving forward."

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13.

What do you hope to achieve in the accounting clerk role?

This is an important question that asks if you see yourself growing with the company. They want to know if you'll be looking for advancement or if you're happy to be in the same role year after year. This could be a double-edged sword question as well. If it's a small company, then they may be concerned that if you're too eager, you won't be satisfied without pay raises later on. If you don't seem eager, they may fear you won't help them grow.

Be honest with where you are in your career. If you don't want advancement, let them know so they can place you in the right position.

Samantha's Answer #1

"I'm hoping to grow into a more managerial position in the future and to help this company grow so that it will need multiple new roles that present growth opportunities not only for me but others as well."

Samantha's Answer #2

"I'm always open to new possibilities and responsibilities, so if the company is growing, I'd like to grow with it."

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14.

You may have multiple deadlines to complete your tasks. When have you been in such an environment and how did you handle it?

Deadline-driven environments are a breeze for you as an accounting clerk! Planning and organization are key for any environment, and the interviewer simply wants to hear that you're not daunted by it. Begin by sharing an example of a deadline-driven environment you've participated in. It can even be a school setting if you're a recent graduate. Share where you were employed (or were a student), what types of deadlines you had to meet, and how you approached the tasks. Mention what organizational tools you utilized, and be sure to mention how successful you were in handling the multi-tasking deadline environment.

Samantha's Answer #1

"I've worked on several projects at once with different deadlines. I'm well versed with this as all it takes is good time management skills to handle the completion of different tasks."

Samantha's Answer #2

"I have experience in handling various projects at the same time. In college, I was in my week of final exams and projects due, and was working with Habitat for Humanity building homes for the less fortunate. I was a veteran volunteer, so they relied on me for many hours and to help train newcomers. I was able to schedule myself enough time to study and complete my projects while helping the charity I hold so close to my heart."

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15.

What made you decide on a career in bookkeeping?

This is a personal question that you should be able to answer. If you don't know why you want to be a bookkeeper, then you probably don't want to be one. Being a bookkeeper is detail and math-oriented. You have to be organized and able to handle multiple types of accounting functions as well as filing policies the company has in place.

If you don't have an answer for this, then I suggest researching exactly what the accounting clerk role has to offer and see if you'd enjoy it. If you don't enjoy the job, you'll be more likely to miss a detail important to the role.

Samantha's Answer #1

"I love detail-oriented work and thrive on finding the last detail or piece of the puzzle."

Samantha's Answer #2

"While I have no experience in bookkeeping, I've always loved detail-oriented work. I always put a lot of detail in my projects and love to do puzzles. Finding the details and ensuring their accuracy is important to me."

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