Top 25 Accountant Interview Questions (Example Answers Included)

By Mike Simpson

When you’re trying to land a new accounting position, the accountant interview questions that hiring managers can fire your way can be real doozies.

While you’re going to see some classic ones – like the infamous, “Tell me about yourself” – you’re also going to have to tackle some surprising and unexpected ones. But don’t worry, this article will set you up for success.

The accounting field is very competitive. Not surprising, considering working as an accountant can be very lucrative. Plus, it comes with long-term career potential. The median salary for the 1.26 million professionals working in these roles comes in at $70,500.

So the question is, how can you differentiate yourself from the competition?

That’s what our next section is all about!

How to Answer Accountant Interview Questions

Before we dig into the actual accountant interview questions you’ll tee off against, let’s spend a moment on something that’s equally important.

How to answer these questions properly!

How do you make that happen? By using a winning strategy (Luckily we’ve got one for you 😉 ).

To begin, consider what the hiring manager is trying to find. Trust me; they have a perfect candidate in mind. What you need to do is position yourself as close to that ideal as possible, while ensuring you remain genuine and honest.

MIKE'S TIP: While it may be tempting to hide the fact that you don’t know the answer to an accounting interview question, don’t. If you’re asked to define or describe something, and you have no clue what it is, admit it. Then, pivot the conversation. How do you do that? By discussing how you’d figure out the answer. That demonstrates your resourcefulness, problem-solving skills, agility, and ability to function under pressure. All of that can work in your favor, usually more so than trying to guess, not seeming confident, or being blatantly wrong.

While every accountant role can be a bit different, let’s go over some qualities that are generally desired. Good accountants are often critical-thinkers with superior math skills and strong communicators with prior experience using key pieces of software. Candidates with time management and organizational skills are always going to be favored, as well as those who can work well as part of a team but also handle their responsibilities independently. Having an understanding of relevant laws and regulations is also critical.

IMPORTANT: These are skills and qualities that are usually desirable in an accountant. But as we discuss often on this blog, you need to find out what skills and qualities your specific company/firm is looking for. The best way to do this, is by going over your accountant job description with a fine tooth comb.

Now that you’ve gone over your job description (you have right!?), you now have a solid idea of what the hiring manager is looking for. Now you have to find a way to convey that you’re the perfect candidate that possesses these skills and qualities during your interview!

Usually, behavioral interview questions are where you’ll get the chance to do just that. But these frequently seem like the trickiest ones to answer. You have to discuss your past experience or how you think you’d act if you encountered various scenarios. Technically, there is no right or wrong answer. However, that doesn’t mean some responses aren’t better than others.

Nailing behavioral interview questions typically requires a two-step approach. First, it’s time for the STAR method. With that approach, you can turn your interview answers into compelling stories, making them a lot more engaging than your typical response.

But you can’t stop there. If you want your response to stand out like take it up a notch with our Tailoring Method. With that, you can customize (ie tailor) your answers and speak to the company’s or hiring manager’s needs. You are highlighting your capabilities in a way that brings them value, and that’s critical if you want to make a genuine connection and show your worth in concrete terms.

Ok, on to the questions!

Top 3 Accountant Interview Questions With Example Answers

Now that you have a strategy to answer accounting interview questions, you might be feeling pretty pumped. Having a great approach feels good, no doubt about it. But that doesn’t mean a few examples won’t help.

Here are the top 3 accountant interview questions you’ll probably face and tips for answering them.

1. Describe one of the biggest challenges in the accounting field and how you strive to overcome it.

When the hiring manager asks this question, they are assessing your overall knowledge of the accounting industry. They want to make sure that you are informed when it comes to common yet significant challenges. Additionally, they are hoping that you have a plan in place for dealing with the inevitability when it occurs.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“I think one of the biggest challenges that accountants face is dealing with frequently changing laws and regulations. Along with income tax code updates on the federal and state level, compliance and reporting rule changes, shifts in sales tax rates, and adjustments to employee compensation requirements, just to name a few, have to be accommodated. Maintaining an appropriate level of familiarity can be difficult. However, I’ve found that by subscribing to industry publications, setting up news alerts, and monitoring upcoming legislation, I can be suitably prepared. Ultimately, staying informed is the key to remaining ahead, ensuring I am ready to implement changes to my approach as needed.”

2. Do you have prior experience with ERP systems? If so, which ones?

Many larger organizations rely heavily on enterprise resource planning (ERP) software solutions. The hiring manager is trying to determine whether you could potentially hit the ground running on day one or if you may require training before you can reach full productivity.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“In my previous roles, I’ve worked with a range of solutions. I’m familiar with Netsuite, Oracle Enterprise Manager, and Microsoft Dynamics GP. Additionally, I am confident in my ability to learn new systems as needed. Since I’m familiar with the ERP concept, I believe that I could become proficient in a new system quickly, if needed.”

3. What impact do you think AI and automation will have on accounting?

This is a question that doesn’t technically have a right or wrong answer. Usually, when a hiring manager asks this, their goal is to check your level of awareness about a critical trend that will significantly impact the field. Additionally, they want to gauge whether you’re concerned about AI and automation, or are interested in its potential and open to embracing it.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“From my perspective, AI and automation are interesting advancements. In accounting, these technologies could streamline operations significantly. This is especially true for highly repetitive tasks, such as data replication between two accounting systems. In that context, AI and automation will free up accountants to focus on tasks that genuinely require the human touch, which could potentially boost engagement. Plus, it could reduce error rates and enhance overall productivity. While many people are concerned about job losses, especially entry-level roles, I believe the potential benefits outweigh those fears.”

22 More Accountant Interview Questions

Here are 22 more accountant interview questions you’ll likely cross paths with:

    1. How would you define the role of an accountant?
    2. Which skills do you think are essential for accountants?
    3. What accounting software solutions are you familiar with?
    4. Can you describe an accounting process that you helped develop or improve?
    5. Tell me about a time you were able to reduce the cost of a critical process or procedure?
    6. Can you tell me about a time when you had to work with a particularly difficult client? How did you handle the situation?
    7. Describe a past experience where you were faced with an incredibly tight deadline. What did you do to make sure you could hand over the deliverable on time?
    8. Tell me about a time when you had to discuss a complex accounting concept with someone who wasn’t familiar with it. How did you make sure they understood?
    9. Please define and describe the three kinds of financial statements and what they contain.
    10. Errors can be detrimental in accounting. How do you reduce the chance that you’ll make a mistake?
    11. Can you tell me about a time when you made a mistake? What did you do once it was spotted?
    12. What is the difference between public and private accounting?
    13. Please describe your experience with Microsoft Excel.
    14. Why did you choose accounting as a career?
    15. What is the difference between accounts payable and accounts receivable?
    16. Do you have any certifications? Do you plan to get any in the near future?
    17. When tax season arrives, are you open to working long hours?
    18. Which accounting skill do you like using the most? What about the least?
    19. Describe your experience with developing business metrics.
    20. Can you tell me about a time you and another accountant did not see eye to eye? How did you handle the situation?
    21. In your previous positions, what processes have you used to estimate bad debt?
    22. Describe your auditing and fraud analysis experience.

5 Good Questions to Ask at the End of an Accountant Interview

As your interview begins to draw to a close, you should get a chance to ask the hiring manager a few questions. Make sure you are ready for this. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the job and if it’s actually right for you and will make you stand out from the crowd. (Never don’t ask any questions!) If you can’t figure out what to ask, here are some questions that can work in most situations.

    1. What separates your good accountants from your great ones?
    2. What is the biggest accounting challenge this company faces? How can this role help solve that problem?
    3. Is the company planning to implement any new accounting technologies in the near future?
    4. Does the accounting team spend most of its time working collaboratively or independently?
    5. Are professional development or continuing education opportunities available to employees?

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, landing an accountant interview is exciting, but it’s also okay to be a bit nervous about what’s to come. A new job usually means taking a step forward in your career, and that can put a lot of pressure on the interview. But, by making use of the tips above and reviewing the accounting interview questions, you can be ready. You’ll have a strategy that showcases you as the perfect candidate, allowing you to demonstrate to the hiring manager why you’ll be a great addition to their team.

As always, good luck!

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About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.