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Accounting interview questions
Like most industries, the questions you’ll be asked when applying for an accounting job will typically depend on the role you’re applying for. For example, if you’re interviewing for a tax accountant role, your interviewer is most likely going to want confirmation that you have a solid understanding of tax legislation. For a company accountant role, the hiring manager will want you to demonstrate that you’re skilled in managing financial statements and ledgers.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all set of accounting interview questions, we’ve collated some of the most common interview questions for accounting professionals, as well as useful questions to ask as the interviewee.
Common accounting interview questions
1. How do you manage explaining complex financial concepts or simplifying data for stakeholders?
Whether you’re applying for a corporate, government, or tax accounting role, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll need to be able to break down complex financial information at some point so it’s easy for managers, colleagues, or customers to understand.
With that in mind, explain how you extract key information and concepts and present them in a simplified format, such as a graph or chart. If possible, talk about a specific time you’ve done this in the past and the steps you took to make the information simple to comprehend by all stakeholders involved.
2. Which accounting tools and software are you familiar with?
There are hundreds of accounting tools and software programs out there, and it’s impossible to know them all inside and out. However, you should be able to show that you have a solid understanding of some of the most widely used tools and which ones are most effective for different situations.
Even if you haven’t used a specific application that is included in a job listing, research its use and test it out yourself before the interview so that you can show you have a basic understanding of how it works.
3. What processes would you put in place to ensure the accuracy of your data?
There are few industries where attention to detail is as critical as it is to accounting. However, everyone is prone to some level of human error, so you should have systems in place to ensure mistakes are caught early. Use examples to explain how you cross-check your work or utilise software or tools to ensure accuracy at all times.
4. Tell me about a time you’ve developed or improved an accounting process.
Regardless of what stage you’re at in your career, you should be able to show that you take an innovative approach to your work. Make note of a time you’ve improved a process in the past – this could be as simple as improving email communication with your direct colleagues or overhauling an entire business’ financial approach.
5. How have you helped reduce costs or better use available financial resources in the past?
Accountants should be able to identify areas of overspending and put together strategies to reduce unnecessary expenses. Aim to answer this question in a way that highlights your logical and analytical thinking problem-solving skills with a specific example.
6. Tell me about a time you’ve had to work to a strict deadline to prepare a financial statement or report.
Most accountants know the joys of working to tight deadlines or handling busy times of the year like EOFY. Memorise an example or two of times you’ve successfully handled strict turnaround times and explain what you did to prioritise your workload during those times.
If you’re new to accounting, you can also use examples from university or otherwise that show you can capably handle a fast-paced work environment.
Questions to ask as an accounting interviewee
Don’t forget that a job interview is a chance for you to ask questions and find out whether the role in question is right for you. Here are some questions you might find useful to ask in an accounting interview:
1. What does a typical day look like for the person in this role?
This question is a great way to find out whether the day-to-day role encompasses the sort of work you want to be doing, and puts you in a better position to judge if it’s appropriate for you.
2. What skills and qualities would the ideal person for this role possess?
Here is an opportunity for you to speak about your key strengths and skills that you may have missed during the interview. Listen carefully to how the interviewer answers and see if you can elaborate on why you are the perfect fit for the job.
3. What training initiatives and opportunities for progression are there?
The opportunity to develop professionally is crucial for most jobseekers, so it’s important to find out if the company you’re interviewing at can offer you adequate encouragement to learn and grow. This question not only demonstrates that you want to develop your own skills but also that you are looking to grow within the company.
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