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Cost Accountant Interview
Questions

25 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns
Updated August 21st, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Job Interviews     Careers     Business    

Question 1 of 25

Do you plan on furthering your accounting education?

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1.

Do you plan on furthering your accounting education?

The interviewer would like to know your plans regarding your accounting education. A willingness to learn and improve are very important assets to a hiring manager. Discuss with the interviewer your plans for further education.

If you do not plan to further your accounting education: "Currently, I am satisfied with my level of education in accounting, however; I would be more than happy to further my education in any way that your organization may require."

Rachelle's Answer #1

"Currently, I am satisfied with my level of education in accounting, however; I would be more than happy to further my education in any way that your organization may require."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"If you plan to further your accounting education: "I have completed my BA in Accounting and plan to obtain my CPA designation in the next couple of years. I am confident in my abilities to be successful in this role with simply my BA, but I do value education and would like to challenge myself professionally, anywhere that I can."

2.

How will you earn the trust of your coworkers?

Workplace relationships are essential to nurture. Talk to the interviewer about how you plan to earn the trust of your new co-workers, should you be offered the position.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I feel that the best way to earn the trust of my co-workers is to be helpful, always do what I promise, and be honest with them at all times. Strong relationships have to be built on these principles."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I will win my new coworkers over by going above and beyond the expectations given to me. I want to be a helpful team member that they can always come to."

3.

How do you handle stress on the job?

Are you someone who can handle stress on the job? How do you manage the stressful times? Talk to the interviewer about your ability to control pressure in the workplace.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I handle stress very well, and when you call my references, they will attest to this fact. When I am under pressure on the job, I focus on the task at hand and make sure not to get distracted. Staying on deadline is very helpful, and I will delegate when necessary to alleviate some stress."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"Stress is part of any demanding job and I embrace it to the fullest. I take good care of myself personally and prioritize my workload to maintain a healthy balance in my stress levels."

4.

How long do you see yourself working for our company?

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.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I see your organization as a long-term fit for me. As you can see, I have a strong work history that includes minimal job hopping. This position offered is one that I have been on the lookout for, for quite some time, and I see it as a long-term fit."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I want to begin my career with a strong start, and stay as long as possible. I plan to learn as much as I can from your company, and your senior leadership. Your organization seems like a perfect fit for me, and I would like to stay as long as possible."

Anonymous Answer

"I want to begin my career with a strong start, and stay as long as possible. I plan to learn as much as I can from your company, and your senior leadership. Your organization seems like a perfect fit for me, and I would like to stay as long as possible."

Rachelle's Answer

Well said! It sounds like you have a genuine interest in the ways that you can grow with the company.

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5.

Have you ever broken a confidentiality agreement?

Companies will have confidentiality agreements for a variety of reasons. These could be to protect their trade secrets or to ensure that you do not bring clients over on the occasion that you leave their company. Talk to the interviewer about your thoughts on confidentiality agreements.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I never have, to my knowledge, broken a confidentiality agreement. Despite my reasons for leaving a position, I would never choose to hurt a previous employer in any way."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"No. I have only once had a confidentiality agreement and had no problem adhering to it."

6.

What do you know about our organization?

Researching the interviewing company is a critical step to success in your job search process. Display to the hiring manager that you have taken a strong interest in what their organization does.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"Prior to coming to the interview today I was able to take some time looking through your website, your social media accounts, and read some online reviews. One thing that I really appreciate about your organization is that you truly seem to care about your clients, your employees, and giving back to your community. Your brand messaging is strong and that makes me feel confident in this company's capabilities."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I have researched your company through your social media channels, and on glassdoor.com. Your employees have great things to say, and overall it seems that you have fun while you work. I am looking forward to joining an organization, like yours, that is upbeat and thoughtful with an eye on helping the community at the same time."

7.

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

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.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I am highly detailed and organized on the job and truly, that is the only thing you can be when in this line of work. I was able to establish very good habits from the start of my career. When you speak with my previous manager for a reference, she will attest to my strong organizational skills."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"My attention to detail is a point that I have been working on a lot this past year. I am meticulous but, in the past, have pushed my documentation back a little bit. It's something I am conscious of and continually working on."

Anonymous Answer

"My attention to detail is a point that I have been working on a lot this past year. I am meticulous but, in the past, have pushed my documentation back a little bit. It's something I am conscious of and continually working on."

Rachelle's Answer

Your response is very honest but also shows that you are self-aware and willing to admit when you fall short. Good job on taking action as well!

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8.

What areas could you improve to be a better accountant? What are you currently doing to improve your skills?

Everyone has room for improvement in some area of their career. Be honest with the hiring manager on where you feel that you could expand your knowledge. Be sure to keep your answer positive and avoid criticizing yourself to the point that you no longer look like a strong candidate.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I feel that an area I could improve in would be my level of knowledge and ability in Excel. I am an intermediate user, however; there is a plethora of things that I do not know yet. I have signed up to take a weekend course starting in March."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"As a recent graduate, I am aware that there are many things for me to learn in this industry. I am willing to do everything it takes to become well skilled as a cost accountant. This includes taking additional workshops, furthering my formal education, and finding a mentor in this industry."

9.

What questions do you have for me about this cost accountant role?

It's always a great idea to have questions ready for the interviewer. Review the company website and other online resources to ensure the questions you are asking are not mundane, or redundant. The last thing an interviewer wants to hear is a list of items you could have found the answers to from merely watching a video on their company site.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"A few questions come to mind. Who would you say your biggest clients are at this time and are there new markets that your firm plans to break into in the next few years?"

Rachelle's Answer #2

"Here are some sample questions:

- When would you like to have this position filled?
- How long has this role been vacant?
- Is this a replacement search or a newly created role?
- What is your favorite part about working here?
- What is the company's primary goal for this position in the next 12 months?
- Is there anything from my background and experience that I can clarify for you?
- What do you see as the most significant change in this industry over the past three years?
- Is there any reason why you would not hire me?"

10.

What are your salary expectations?

Before your interview, make sure you have researched the median salary for the position (and location). You can look at salary reviews on Glassdoor.com or Payscale.com.

Always make sure you give a salary range, not just a number. Providing a range allows you to negotiate down the road if you are given an offer. However if you just tell the employer you are looking for $50K it doesn’t leave room for negotiating later on. Also, make sure the lowest number of your range is something you are comfortable with!

Another great option is to tell the interviewer what you are currently earning and tell them that you are seeking a competitive offer.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I am currently earning a base salary of $68K per year plus an opportunity for bonus, based on my results. I am looking for a position that will offer me competitive growth and salary."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I am new to my career as a cost accountant, so I would appreciate a salary that aligns with my balance of experience and education. I understand that to be in the $55K range for this city and size of an organization. What are you offering for this role?"

11.

What role do you usually take in team projects?

The interviewer truly wants to understand the role that you naturally take on, when put into a team-based environment. If you tend to take the lead, let the interviewer know this, but avoid sounding overbearing. If you usually like to generate new ideas and allow someone else to execute them, share your creative side but express that you prefer for others to take the lead.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I am usually the 'ideas person' in team projects. In my current position, I am not the most seasoned cost accountant, but I am highly creative. This means that, in most projects, I am great at creating a strategic plan but am most comfortable passing the final client-facing tasks to our more extroverted personnel."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"When it comes to team projects I do not mind taking a backseat and, rather than being the leader, being more of an administrator. I like to organize data and analyze progress rather than lead others."

12.

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

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.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"While attending University, I began working for XYZ firm as an apprentice. I was hired on full time after graduating with my Bachelor's Degree in Accounting. I spent three years at that particular firm learning directly under the Sr. Cost Accountant which I feel gave me a major advantage in kick-starting my career. Since then, my biggest highlights include some great promotions. My career trajectory has been strong."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I recently graduated with my Bachelor's Degree in Accounting. Post graduation, I was a successful applicant for Nestle USA's 2017 Finance & Accounting Summer Internship Program. I had the opportunity to work on high-value projects during those 12 weeks. I gained a great deal of analytical and business knowledge. Now, I am ready to enter my career in a full-time, paid position."

13.

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

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.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I worked on a project this year where the material and labor costs were both being disputed by the client. In this situation, I went through every line and was able to uncover a few areas that were not aligning. I am accustomed to working around disputes such as this and feel confident in my abilities to do so."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I am new to my career as a cost accountant and have not had the experience of a dispute surrounding material costs. If I were to come across a situation like this, I would dig into the data until an explanation was found. If I needed a second set of eyes on the situation, I would ask for assistance."

Anonymous Answer

"I am new to my career as a cost accountant and have not had the experience of a dispute surrounding material costs. If I were to come across a situation like this, I would dig into the data until an explanation was found. If I needed a second set of eyes on the situation, I would ask for assistance."

Rachelle's Answer

You answered perfectly. Despite lacking the experience, you readily discussed what you would do in this situation. Great response!

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14.

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

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.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I chose cost accounting over other accounting fields simply due to my interest in business costs when it came to production and manufacturing. I find the business analysis components to be very intriguing."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"While completing my accounting degree, I found that I performed the best when it came to cost analysis, business analysis, and strategic planning. These components are all important when it comes to being an effective cost accountant."

Anonymous Answer

"While completing my accounting degree, I found that I performed the best when it came to cost analysis, business analysis, and strategic planning. These components are all important when it comes to being an effective cost accountant."

Rachelle's Answer

Very solid answer, and well supported. Nice work!

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15.

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

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.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"The most difficult assignment that I have faced recently was a company-wide audit ordered from our headquarters in Boston. We had to gather the required information in a very short period of time and, at the same time, continue our regular workload as per usual. Teamwork is truly what helped me to complete my tasks successfully. Also, I am not afraid of working overtime hours as needed."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"The most challenging point in my career so far was gaining a reputable and challenging internship. Luckily I was able to find an opportunity with a large firm in our city, thanks to a family connection. I realized through this challenge that it's essential to keep a positive and active network."

Anonymous Answer

"The most challenging point in my career so far was gaining a reputable and challenging internship. Luckily I was able to find an opportunity with a large firm in our nearby city, thanks to a LinkedIn connection. I realized through this challenge that it's essential to keep a positive and active network."

Rachelle's Answer

You discussed what the challenge was, how you overcame it, and what you learned. A perfectly crafted response!

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25 Cost Accountant Interview Questions
Win your next job by practicing from our question bank. We have thousands of questions and answers created by interview experts.

Interview Questions

  1. Do you plan on furthering your accounting education?
  2. How will you earn the trust of your coworkers?
  3. How do you handle stress on the job?
  4. How long do you see yourself working for our company?
  5. Have you ever broken a confidentiality agreement?
  6. What do you know about our organization?
  7. Are you a detail oriented person? Do you like to be organized?
  8. What areas could you improve to be a better accountant? What are you currently doing to improve your skills?
  9. What questions do you have for me about this cost accountant role?
  10. What are your salary expectations?
  11. What role do you usually take in team projects?
  12. Bring your experience to life for me and highlight some of your biggest wins in your career as a Cost Accountant.
  13. Tell me about any disputes you have surrounding material costs for a particular project you worked on.
  14. Why did you choose Cost Accounting rather than another field of accounting?
  15. What was the most difficult assignment you have faced? How did you complete the task?
  16. Why do you feel cost accounting is important in our business?
  17. Are you familiar with Simply Accounting? Rate yourself as a Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced user.
  18. Why do you believe you are the best fit to be our cost accountant?
  19. Are you familiar with QuickBooks? Rate yourself as a Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced user.
  20. Why are you looking for a new accounting position?
  21. How do you explain complicated concepts to those who may not understand?
  22. How do you handle a larger than average workload?
  23. Have you ever used an SAP or ERP program? If so, which one(s)?
  24. Are you familiar with Microsoft Excel? Rate yourself as a Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced user.
  25. When you suffer a setback, how does that emotionally affect you and your work?
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