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Accounts Receivable Specialist Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by Bobbi Witt

Updated January 7th, 2019 | Bobbi has been a finance manager for over 15 years, with direct recruiting and hiring experience in her field.
Question 1 of 30
When have you had to be extra thorough in completing tasks?
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How to Answer
The interviewer would like to know that you are willing to go the extra mile when it's required. Some accounts receivable tasks will require a keener eye and additional diligence. Discuss a time when you were extra thorough during work-related tasks.
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Top 30 Accounts Receivable Specialist Interview Questions with Full Content
1.
When have you had to be extra thorough in completing tasks?
The interviewer would like to know that you are willing to go the extra mile when it's required. Some accounts receivable tasks will require a keener eye and additional diligence. Discuss a time when you were extra thorough during work-related tasks.

Bobbi's Answer #1
"In my current inventory control job the company was getting a lot of complaints about late deliveries. I met with the delivery staff and discovered that the problem seemed to be with the stock arriving on time. I investigated and found kinks in our new inventory request process. The backlog was in the orders department as they were not following up adequately with the suppliers. I implemented a system for faster and more accurate follow-up. This system sorted out the stock problems, and the delivery staff was able to meet their deadlines."
Bobbi's Answer #2
"We changed our product catalog recently, so I had to re-memorize a lot of products, codes, and pricing. That following week was month end, so I needed to have my product knowledge up to snuff so that I could invoice quickly. I was proud of my ability to retain all of that data in such a short amount of time."
2.
Have you ever had to prepare a bill or invoice for services rendered? If so what should be included?
The interviewer wants to hear proof that you understand the basics of accounting. The information you need to include on an invoice varies depending on the specific services you perform, but most invoices should consist of:

- Company contact information
- Company logo
- Customer purchase order number (also known as a PO)
- Number of service hours, or price per item
- Dates
- Client contact information
- Total amount due
- Item descriptions
- Freight, for physical products
- Payment terms
- Payment due date

Express to the interviewer that you understand the work that goes into invoicing. Also, if you have ever made invoice templates before, you can mention this experience.

Bobbi's Answer #1
"Depending on the company and what they are purchasing, there might be some differences, but the preparation of a bill usually includes: service provider's details, description of service or product, the organizations name and address, taxes, appropriate dates include the invoice and the due date, and net terms. I have created thousands of invoices in my A/R career and fully understand the importance of accuracy and consistency."
Bobbi's Answer #2
"For the most part, we used templated invoices when I was learning about billing and invoices, in school. I can follow any template or create custom invoices, depending on your needs. A bill for services rendered should have appropriate contact information, dates, a clear breakdown of the services rendered, total amount with tax rates, and due date with payment terms."
3.
Walk me through your accounts receivable experience.
Bring your resume to life, walking the interviewer through a brief history of your accounts receivable experience. This question is open-ended, and it can be easy to give a long-winded answer. Remain focused by discussing your past job titles, how long you were employed there, and the volume of work you handled. You could also explain the type of customers you were typically working with, or what your most significant achievement was in each role. Mention one thing that you enjoyed about each job. This question offers an excellent opportunity to show the interviewer your passion for accounts receivable.

Bobbi's Answer #1
"I have spent the last eight years as a Senior Accounts Receivable and Collections Specialist. I currently oversee a team of three A/R specialists, focused primarily on keeping accounts receivable current by collecting from customers 15 days in arrears, or more. With a total of four team leads, my department has the lowest Days Sales Outstanding in over three years. This low DSO is something I'm very proud of, and it shows how diligent my team has been in collecting payment promptly."
Bobbi's Answer #2
"I currently work for Company ABC as an Accounts Receivable Specialist. This role has been my only A/R position since graduating with my Associates' Degree in Accounting. I'm solely responsible for invoicing, applying payments to the correct accounts, and collections. I am in a department of thirteen other A/R specialists, and I report directly to the accounts receivable manager. I have worked for my current employer for two and a half years and have drastically helped to reduce aged receivables and increase customer cash flow."
4.
Do you have any plans for continued education?
Some A/R roles do not require post-secondary education, while others need an Associate's Degree or even a Bachelor's Degree. The interviewer would like to know if you are planning to complete some higher education. If you are, it is essential that you express your desire to work in tandem with your classes. The concern of the interviewer is that you will be hired, trained, and then want to leave your job to go back to school full time.

Some organizations will offer tuition support or a reimbursement program for their employees who wish to continue their education. If they do provide this type of perk, you can indeed show interest but make sure that your continued education aspirations are related to the industry and job. If you are working as an accounts receivable professional, you want to avoid saying that you would like to take courses in zoology.

Bobbi's Answer #1
"I believe that continued education is always a good idea. I like to expand my knowledge when possible. With that said, my job would always come first. I understand that you have a tuition reimbursement program for your employees seeking related coursework. I would be interested in learning more about this down the road."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I like the idea of taking some coursework in Excel and Powerpoint; however, I have no plans to exit the workforce to gain another degree for instance. If other industry related opportunities present themselves, I would be interested."
5.
In your opinion, what makes you a great problem solver?
Employers want to know that you have a systematic approach to problem-solving. Consider the skills and qualities that help you successfully face problems. Perhaps you have a keen eye for detail. Maybe you can see opportunity when others can only focus on the issue. Share your strengths as a problem solver, and your ability to come up with innovative solutions.

Strong problem solvers are:

- Systematic thinkers
- Open minded
- Okay with being wrong sometimes
- Always researching and exploring
- Able to identify the core problem
- Able to reverse engineer a challenge to avoid future issues
- Ready to come up with multiple avenues that work well for all stakeholders
- Are do-ers and not worriers

Bobbi's Answer #1
"I am a great problem solver because I can compartmentalize all aspects of a problem before studying it. I also like to bring more experienced team members in to add to the solution. I will never try to be a hero and solve a complicated problem without tapping into the resources around me."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"What makes me a great problem solver is that I have a keen ability to research, read, and explore so that my recommendations are based on fact and study rather than guesses."
6.
Have you ever worked in a cross-functional environment?
If you work for a larger company, you may have been asked to work on a project with teams from another department. Your ability to work with cross-functional teams will be a significant asset to your potential employer, especially if they are a larger organization. Maybe you headed a collections project which required you to collaborate with the members of the accounting and sales teams. Share any challenges that came up and what you learned from the experience.

Bobbi's Answer #1
"Yes, I have indeed worked in many cross-functional environments. Currently, I lead the A/R team and collaborate with the sales folks very regularly. We all work well together to ensure customer satisfaction and prompt payment with reasonable terms."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"My current company is pretty flat, as it's a family owned business with a few A/R clerks like myself. I can certainly see how a cross-functional environment would be helpful when it comes to having different team members with varying levels of expertise."
7.
What is your current A/R Specialist salary?
It is important to note that this question may be illegal, depending on your geographical location. If you are in a place where it is unlawful for a hiring authority or recruiter to ask this question, you can politely decline by saying, 'I am aware that this question breaches my rights as a candidate in the state of XYZ.'

A potential employer will often want to base their offer on your current salary. Whenever possible, you should be transparent about your most recent earnings and be prepared to back up any salary requests in states or provinces where it is entirely legal to ask about compensation. Keep your answer simple, and to the point. It is indeed okay to ask the interviewer what they are offering in return!

Bobbi's Answer #1
"I am currently making $38,000 per year with two bonus opportunities based on collections on aged accounts. I am looking for compensation that is aligned with the role and provides an opportunity for growth. Could you share further details with me on your compensation plan?"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"As I am a recent graduate, I would like to be offered a fair salary that reflects my new education. I am most concerned with joining an organization that will help me to grow my career in marketing. Compensation is not my primary driver."
8.
Have you ever broken company rules, or payment terms, to make a customer happy?
Breaking the rules, and bending them, CAN be different from each other. Often, organizations are okay with you bending the rules to keep a customer happy. You need to know your audience, though! If the company is very stringent when it comes to their policies and procedures, then approach this question with caution. If the organization is well known for being flexible, then you can indeed be more free with your answer.

Bobbi's Answer #1
"My current company is pretty strict with their policies, so I do not bend to make a customer happy, but I will escalate the issue to someone who has the seniority to decide that. I agree with your organization that it's important to offer some flex on policy, within reason of course."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have been trained to know that rules and policy are there for a reason. If I were not sure what to do or were asked to break or bend a rule, I would refer to my employee manual or ask a manager to assist."
9.
As an A/R Specialist, you will be customer facing. Have you received any formal customer service training?
The interviewer would like to know about any formal training you have received, related to customer service. This training could include a robust onboarding plan, on-the-job training, courses taken, or even books that you have read in your spare time. Show the interviewer that you have an interest in bettering your customer service delivery. This question is a great time to ask the interviewer about their company-specific customer service training and manuals.

Bobbi's Answer #1
"Near the beginning of my career, I did take a course on customer service basics as well as training on collection calls. There are best practices that I still implement today, such as active listening, not interrupting, and repeating the problem back to the customer. Because much of my role is over the phone and computer, I have to rely on my voice or wording so keeping a pleasant tone is important."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am newer to my career so I cannot say that I have received any customer service-specific training. I would be happy to take any training that you recommend and would love to hear more about your specific training program."
10.
Explain to me the term DSO or, Days Outstanding.
The interviewer is looking for your level of familiarity with the term DSO or Days Outstanding. DSO or Days Outstanding and is a measure of the average number of days that it takes a company to collect payment after a sale is made. This metric is a significant one in accounts receivable. DSO = Total Accounts Receivable/Total Sales x Number of Days.

Bobbi's Answer #1
"Days Sales Outstanding is a method used to evaluate how active a company is at collecting receivables. This metric is used to measure the average number of days it takes a company to collect what is owed to them after a sale is complete. Put in fewer words; it is the average collection period. DSO has always been an emphasis for all companies I have worked and is calculated by total accounts receivable over total sales, multiplied by the number of days passed. A low DSO is an excellent thing!"
Bobbi's Answer #2
"From what I learned in my latest accounting course is that DSO, or Days Outstanding, is determined on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. It is a calculation of a company's average collection period. A low DSO can have a remarkable effect on a company's cash flow."
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