Accounting is a career path on the rise, and entering the job market with a degree in this field can open many doors. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a 7% growth rate in this industry; that’s faster than average.
The competition for accounting jobs is fierce even as the need to fill positions grows. Accounting is about mastering the language of business: numbers. It requires discipline and attention to detail.
People who pursue roles in this industry are forward thinkers. It just makes sense that they would prepare for a job interview as fiercely as they prep for exams. That starts with developing an understanding of the questions that might pop up in an interview. Accounting interview questions will range from the fundamentals of accounting and business to personality questions to see if you are a good fit for the culture. Consider some questions you may encounter as you interview for a job in accounting.
Be Prepared with the Basics
Accounting is based on fundamental concepts, and anyone working in this field will need to have a good grasp of them. An interviewer will want assurance of your knowledge of the basics. Even if you know the content inside and out, prepare vocal responses ahead of time. It is normal to be nervous during an important job interview, so drilling these answers into your mind will help keep your responses accurate and strong.It isn’t easy to know what questions a job interviewer might ask, but here are some common ones to expect:
Working capital, what is it, and why is it important in business?
Working capital is a concept that applies to most business ventures. An interviewer will expect you to understand what it means and why it matters to a company. They may expand on this question to ask how you might enhance the company’s working capital, so do some research on the employer before your interview.
What does TDS stand for, and why does it matter?
Tax Deducted at Source or TDS is another critical accounting concept. It is also on most balance sheets in the assets section.
What is the difference between managing accounts payable and accounts receivable?
Understanding the difference between these two critical accounting functions isn’t enough, especially if you are hoping to move up in the company. By explaining how managing them differs, you show your knowledge of the subject and your management skills in one answer.
What is the one statement that shows the overall health of the company, and why is it critical?
This is a trick question because there are several answers. The interviewer wants your interpretation and to know why you choose this one statement.
What are some common mistakes seen in accounting?
This question is also somewhat subjective. The interviewer wants to know what you think.
Name the Golden Rules of Accounting
Focus your answer on the three primary accounts: personal, real, and nominal. Don’t go off-topic.
Technical Accounting Interview Questions
Modern accounting is very much a technology-based industry. The interviewer will want to explore your knowledge regarding the various accounting software programs out there today. It is essential to become familiar and proficient in the most popular programs, such as QuickBooks and Microsoft Dynamic GP.
Some example technology questions might include:
Name the accounting applications you know best
Do your research beforehand to see what platforms are hot right now and learn about them. Also, make a list of ones you have worked with in school or on the job.
Of the packages you do know, what are the pros and cons of each?
This is a chance to show your proficiency in these programs.
What do you look for in accounting software? Affordability or functionality?
Clearly, both matter, but what do you look at first when reviewing these programs?
How critical do you consider documentation in accounting?
Having a paper trail, whether physical paper or digital, is vital for all accounting processes. Expand on the question to explain why it matters, such as IRS audits.
What would you do to reduce human errors in the accounting process?
This is another chance to show your fundamental accounting skills.
Know Your “Whys”
Any job interview will get a little personal. Asking specific questions allows the interviewer to get a sense of how well you fit the role, what your plans might be, and how motivated you are in your career.
Some common “Why” questions include:
Why did you pick accounting as a career?
Try to think beyond the obvious answers and show some personality so you stand out.
Why do you think having standards in accounting matters?
This gives the interviewer a chance to see if you understand the basics of auditing standards and believe they are essential.
Why do you want to work for the company?
Do your research on the potential employer to make your answer accurate and avoid boilerplate responses.
Where do you see your career in five years?
This question is tricky. You want to show motivation but keep it based on the company, so they don’t feel like you will leave your job in just a few years. Talk about your educational goals and what you hope to accomplish with this employer.
What do you think your top challenge will be while working with us?
This gives the interviewer some insight into what you see as challenges in the job.
Demonstrate Your Value
Going through the interview process is very much about marketing yourself. You need to show the person asking the questions why you are the right choice for the job. Some accounting questions asked in an interview will give you the opportunity to show your value.
Common Accounting Interview Questions
Consider some interview questions that focus on you and what you bring to the table.
What accounting processes have you put in place or looked to improve on while on the job?
This gives you a chance to describe auditing procedures and other accounting mechanisms you put in place to improve workflow and accountability.
How have you helped reduce costs in the accounting department?
Discuss ways you might have improved efficiency and reduced operating costs while on the job.
How, in the past, have you provided an excellent service to a client?
Describe ways you work to benefit clients and improve customer service.
What do you consider your strengths? What about your weaknesses?
This gives you a chance to show the interviewer how well you know yourself and where you think you could improve.
Describe the biggest challenge you’ve met while working in accounting.
This gives you a good chance to brag about the things you’ve accomplished while on the job.
Questions for You to Ask the Interviewer
A good job interview is a two-way street. When the interviewer asks if you have any questions, you should have some ready. This is as much a test of your abilities as the interviewer’s questions. They want to see how your mind works and where your priorities lie. For example, you might ask:
What is the company culture like, and what is the biggest challenge?
The interviewer is trying to decide if you are a good fit for the company. You also need to decide if the company is a good fit for you and your goals. You want to ensure the company’s goals align with yours, and that starts with getting an idea of what the company culture is like and how you might fit in it.
What characteristics do you look for in employees?
This will give you insight into the company as a whole. Do they consider it a family, or do they see it as a job? What values can you expect from your colleagues, and are they the same as what is important to you in a workplace?
What do you like about working for this company?
This is another perspective on what the company offers its employees. It is easier to see how loyal employees are if you ask them to talk about what they like about their jobs and their business.
What opportunities are there for professional development?
Few people are looking to stay in entry-level positions. If you want a chance to move up, you need to know there are opportunities for advancement before taking a new job.
How long is the training period, and what does the training involve?
Most companies offer job training to get you started. It is important to know how long that lasts and what to expect. And, if there is no training, you need to know that, too.
Today’s work environment is changing. Some companies are looking for remote workers, for instance. One of the most critical aspects of the employment process is the interview. It is where you learn the most about a potential employer.
A successful job interview allows you to impress the hiring manager with your abilities and qualifications and your confidence and demeanor in person. Making the effort to prepare for your interview ahead of time will boost your confidence before you go into it. Find out more about a future in accounting by checking out Siena Heights’ online accounting program today.