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Accounting Clerk Interview
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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.
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Question 1 of 25
What do you do when priorities change quickly? Give one example of when this happened.
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How to Answer
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.
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Answer Examples
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."
2.
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."
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."
4.
If a customer came to you and asked you to alter their account without payment, how would you handle that situation?
This is an ethics questions as well as a how well you handle guilt. Imagine someone coming to you with a sob story about their finances. They can't afford to pay their bills, they're overextended. They can't pay for the plasma TV they purchased from your company because they need to feed their six kids. How are you going to handle this both in a respectful but firm manner?

Will you fall for their story and adjust their account to help them steal from the company? Or will you offer other assistance?

Samantha's Answer #1
"I'd talk to them about a payment plan. If they couldn't afford any type of payment, I'd put their account in delinquent statues. I'd discuss the late fees associated with that and if necessary, the return of our product to get them out of the payments all together."
Samantha's Answer #2
"I'd let them know I couldn't alter their account without payment. I'd discuss payment plan options or the consequences of making late payments. If the company offers a grace period, I'd inform them of that."
5.
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."
6.
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."
7.
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."
8.
Give an example of a time you had too many extra duties and had to delegate or reject taking on extra duties.
This is important as there will be times when you're overloaded with work and will need a break or someone to help you. The interviewer is trying to determine if you know when to admit you need help and that someone needs to help you.

If you like to please people, this becomes difficult because you don't want to stop taking on more or helping out, but then you can't say no when it's necessary.

Samantha's Answer #1
"I was doing month-end duties and my boss kept signing me up for training events and extra projects. Finally, I had to sit down with them and let them know that I couldn't take on any more tasks as I was getting in at 6am daily and leaving at 7pm. I wasn't getting any time with my wife and kids so I had to take a step back from some of the tasks."
Samantha's Answer #2
"When I was in high school, I was on three different sport teams, coached my little sister's soccer team, had a part time job at a fast food place, and was concurrently enrolled at a nearby college. When it was time for finals, I had to make some choices. I took three weeks off of work to study for all my finals and missed about a week's worth of practices. My mom covered for me on the coaching standpoint so that I could get all the study time I needed for both high school and college."
9.
Give me an example of time you had to fix the journal entries, how you found the error, and how you fixed it.
This is a simple question. If you've ever discovered an error in the journal entries and had to correct it, then you can easily answer this. If you've never found an error, then explain it and describe the process of how your team inputs the data to ensure there are no errors.

If you have no experience entering journal entries or reviewing them, be honest. This is a low level position and is great for learning the field. Being honest is the best policy here.

Samantha's Answer #1
"I was the reviewer for the journal entries for my previous company and it was common to find an error. Basically, when I found the error, I sent it back to the person who input it and used it as a training moment to show them why it was out of balance."
Samantha's Answer #2
"I've never found an error in journal entries as our company has a policy of checking our work before submitting the entries. When we input the data, we verify with another team member that it's correct. That way, we learn from each other."
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."
11.
If a vendor called and tried to demand payment two weeks early, how would you handle it?
This is a rare occurrence, but can happen. If a vendor seriously needs cash or there's an error regarding the invoice due date, then it will result in an awkward phone call. The important thing to remember is to always check your files. They should have due dates and agreed-upon amounts.

The correct way to handle this is to take the message, go to your manager to discuss the situation, and then follow whatever your manager says. If they're unavailable, go to your files and let them know the due dates you've recorded and the amount due. Don't authorize payment without permission from a manager.

Samantha's Answer #1
"I'd place them on hold and see if my manager is available to discuss the issue. If they're not, I'd pull the file and review the due date and the amount on file. If they have a special reason for their situation, I'd inform them that I'd contact them after discussing the situation with the manager."
Samantha's Answer #2
"I'd let them know our policy on file regarding the due date, and then escalate this to my manager as I'm not allowed to pay something that's not scheduled."
12.
When you make a mistake, who usually notices? You or the auditor?
Hopefully, you catch most of your mistakes. Interviewers understand that we're all human, and it's likely that an auditor will catch one of your mistakes at some point in your career too. Think through your career. What's been the average? Do you routinely catch errors in your work? Odds are, you do! Go ahead and share how often you catch your own errors to ensure the auditor doesn't need to find them for you.

If you make a lot of errors, this may be a good way for you to explain how you correct the mistakes before they leave your desk.

Samantha's Answer #1
"When I was very new to this career,I thought I'd entered all the journal entries correctly so I got cocky and didn't double check my work before passing it to my boss to submit for the general ledger. She caught a mistake and asked why I didn't check my work. I was so embarrassed that I never made that mistake again."
Samantha's Answer #2
"In college, I was late to class one day because I got caught up at work and came in the middle of class. My teacher was talking about the book we were supposed to be reading and they were explaining that we'd be switching books because most of the class had already read it. I was so caught up in my own thoughts that I didn't pay attention and went home and read the same book again instead of picking up the new book at the front of the classroom. I wrote a paper on the wrong book and got an F. I learned to always pay attention. Instead of rushing out of class thinking I knew what was going on, I'd ask the teacher what I missed due to work."
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."
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."
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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25 Accounting Clerk Interview Questions
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Interview Questions
  1. What do you do when priorities change quickly? Give one example of when this happened.
  2. Give me an example of time you caught an accounts receivable error and how you fixed it.
  3. Do you enjoy working with deadlines?
  4. If a customer came to you and asked you to alter their account without payment, how would you handle that situation?
  5. Give me an example of a time you handled documentation preparation for an audit. How did you ensure you had everything required?
  6. Give me an example of an ethical dilemma you experienced regarding your work and how you handled it.
  7. Outside of inputting sales and expenses, what other accounting tasks have you completed before?
  8. Give an example of a time you had too many extra duties and had to delegate or reject taking on extra duties.
  9. Give me an example of time you had to fix the journal entries, how you found the error, and how you fixed it.
  10. Give me an example of an accounting goal you set for yourself and achieved.
  11. If a vendor called and tried to demand payment two weeks early, how would you handle it?
  12. When you make a mistake, who usually notices? You or the auditor?
  13. What do you hope to achieve in the accounting clerk role?
  14. You may have multiple deadlines to complete your tasks. When have you been in such an environment and how did you handle it?
  15. What made you decide on a career in bookkeeping?
  16. In your previous accounting experience, what's the toughest group you had to get cooperation from? How did you handle it?
  17. When given a new bookkeeping assignment, how do you approach it?
  18. Give an example of a time you were helping on a project but maintained your normal duties as well.
  19. Are you proficient using the 10 key pad?
  20. As an accounting clerk, you'll act as the receptionist for the accounting department. What reception experience do you have?
  21. What's your career plan and how does the accounting clerk role fit into it?
  22. If I were to look at your home office, or previous work station before you left, what would it look like?
  23. What is your personal method for double checking your work?
  24. How proficient are you with Excel? Please share some projects you created and regular accounting tasks you completed on Excel.
  25. What accounting tasks did you perform at your former job?
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