11 Interview Questions for Accountants (With Example Answers)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 5 August 2022 | Published 25 June 2021
Updated 5 August 2022
Published 25 June 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Job interviews allow you to expand on the information listed on your CV. Sharing examples and communicating your skills can demonstrate how you could benefit the company. In this article, we discuss common interview questions for accountants and provide sample answers to help you prepare for your interview.
Related: How To Prepare for an Interview
Common interview questions for accountants
Employers may ask you a range of questions to learn more about your experience and qualifications. It's important to provide answers that accurately reflect your skills and make a good impression on the interviewer. Preparing for an interview may help you provide better answers.
Here are some common interview questions for accountants with sample answers to help you develop your own:
What types of accounting software are you familiar with?
An interviewer may ask this question to learn more about the accounting programs you've previously used. They may also want to assess how quickly you learn new programs. Discuss which software you have the most experience with and which you've most recently used, but also include other programs you've previously used in your answer.
Example answer: 'I have almost 10 years combined experience of BookKeeper Pro, and it's the primary program we use at my current position. I've previously worked with AgentTrack and NumberSuite. In my spare time, I've completed an online course about the new software from RecordKeep Master to advise my employer if we should change our system to that software.'
What accounting software do you like best? Why?
An interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your preferences. Your answer may also provide the interviewer with insight into how you work. Explain your preferences, and include details about specific features.
Example answer: 'At my current company, we changed from Accounting Assitant to NumberGuide Pro last year. I'm really pleased with the change as I believe NumberGuide Pro makes it much easier to generate invoices, set automated payment reminders and charge late fees. As a result, fewer clients miss their payments and I have more time to focus on more complex tasks.'
In your opinion, when choosing accounting software, does price or functionality matter more?
An interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your preferences and assess your decision-making skills. Consider providing an answer that emphasises the value of both. Be sure the answer you give communicates that you know a higher price doesn't necessarily mean the software will function better and vice versa.
Example answer: 'I believe you don't need to choose between paying a fair price and finding excellent accounting software. Instead, I believe adequate research based on exactly what the company needs from a program matters most. With the vast number of programs available, it's possible to find a £300 per month software that functions just as well as a £3,000 per month software."
What's the difference between private and public accounting?
An interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your accounting knowledge. Give examples of each type of accounting, and highlight the differences between them. Consider mentioning the experience you have with both.
Example answer: 'Private accountants generally work with one company and focus on internal affairs. A public accountant, however, works with multiple clients, including both companies and individuals. I have experience with both, and I enjoyed the unique challenges of both. In fact, I believe my time as a public accountant helped me become the successful private accountant I am today because I learned about so many industries.'
Tell me about the three financial statements.
An interviewer may ask about the three types of financial statements. They may ask this to verify your basic accounting knowledge. Explain what each financial statement is and how it works.
Example answer: 'The three financial statements are balance sheets, cash flow statements and income statements, and they may slightly vary for each company. Balance sheets include information about a company's assets, liabilities and shareholder equity. Cash flow statements provide details where the company's cash comes from, including financing, investing and operating activities. Income statements comprehensively detail all of a company's expenses and revenue.'
If you could only use one statement to assess the overall health of a company, which would you choose? Why?
An interviewer may ask this to evaluate your decision-making skills and understanding of accounting basics. Most employers consider cash flow statements as the most important statement. Explain why this is the best statement to review and consider mentioning that viewing all three of the statements is the best way to evaluate a company's health.
Example answer: 'If I could only have access to one of a company's statements to determine its health, I would choose the cash flow statement. This would allow me to evaluate how much cash the company generates. However, this would still be an incomplete assessment without the other two statements.'
Do you have experience with developing your own accounting processes?
An interviewer may ask this question to evaluate your innovation and problem-solving skills. Discuss the process you created, and include details, especially about how the process positively affected your company. If you don't have experience with developing processes, be honest, but consider sharing other examples of being innovative at work.
Example answer: 'At my previous company, we had an issue with not properly charging late fees. We would miss the window to be eligible to charge clients the fees. I proposed a new system to review client statements halfway through the month to send payment warnings, and we created a list with the companies that had not paid yet.
Before sending invoices for the next month, we would review the list. If a company still had not paid, we would add the late fee to their next invoice. This reduced both missed payments by 10% and missed late fees by 30%.'
Give me an example of how you reduced operational costs in a previous role.
Accountants have a strong understanding of the company's financial health, allowing them to better identify unnecessary operational costs. An interviewer may ask you this to determine how well you evaluate operational costs and how you could save the company money. Provide an answer that demonstrates your analytical and problem-solving skills to reduce costs without compromising quality.
Example answer: 'At my last company, members of different departments would frequently sign up for paid services without communicating with each other. I asked each department manager to compile a list of every service they signed up and paid for, and I audited each of the lists for duplicate accounts. I discovered we had at least 25 different services where we were paying for two or more accounts. We consolidated to master accounts for all paid services, reducing subscription costs by 7% or £4,000 per month.'
How do you prevent human errors when working as an accountant?
An interviewer may ask this question to evaluate your organisational skills and ability to notice small details. Provide an example with details about your previous experience. Consider using the STAR technique to give your answer. STAR answers discuss the:
Situation: What happened
Task: What your role was in the situation
Action: What steps you took to resolve the issue
Result: What the result of your actions was
Example answer: 'As an accounting manager, I believe a fair workload is one of the most effective ways to prevent the risk of human error. In my current position, we noticed an increase in small errors, likely caused by employee burnout. I held individual meetings with each team member, and we discussed how they felt about their workload.
Based on these meetings, I developed a new system to better delegate work and recruit two more accountants to better distribute responsibilities. I hold weekly team meetings for each member to discuss difficult projects or if they may need more help. With our new methods, employees are overall happier, errors are less frequent and client complaints decreased 20%.'
In your opinion, what's the biggest challenge accounts face?
An interviewer may ask this question to evaluate your knowledge of the accounting industry overall. While there is no right or wrong answer, it's important to provide a reasonable explanation that supports your feelings. Your answer may also help interviewers assess how you approach challenges and handle change.
Example answer: 'While new technology is often an incredible asset in accounting operations, it can be difficult to learn. To help with transitions, I've started to research the new software as soon as our managers begin to discuss the possibility of changing our system. This allows me to become more familiar with the new tools before I need to use them.'
Why do you want to work for us?
Accountants often have a variety of job opportunities they may choose to pursue. An interviewer may ask this because they want to know why you specifically want to work for them. In your answer, focus on how you could add value to the company. Research the company before your interview, and relate your answer to its goals, mission and values.
Example answer: 'It would be my honour if Astrid Financial Group offered me an accounting position. I believe my familiarity with the latest accounting software and practices could help revolutionize your operations. Also, I'm very interested in your commitment to give back to local communities, especially through mentorship programmes for students, and I would love to help others.'
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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