Accountant Interview Questions: 15 Things Employers Always Ask

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn


Preparing for an interview can be nerve-wracking, stressful and time consuming but these emotions can be minimised by preparing for the interview well in advance. If you have an Accountant interview coming up, you should be prepared for more knowledge-based and technical questions. 

In the accountancy and finance world, employers will be looking to see if you have the skills and expertise needed to succeed as a professional Accountant. The interview questions will be structured around this so your answers need to reassure the hiring manager that you have previous experience of performing well and that you could do the same for them.  

To get you interview-ready, we’ve gathered 15 of the most common accounting interview questions that employers ask along with key tips and insights to help prepare you for this important opportunity. 


15 common questions asked during an Accountant interview

15 common questions asked during an Accountant interview include:

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. Why do you want to be an Accountant?
  3. Why do you want this particular role in our business?
  4. In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing Accountants today?
  5. How have you led an accounting team to success?
  6. Describe an accounting process you’ve developed or improved.
  7. What types of accounting software are you familiar with and what software do you like best?
  8. What are the current trends in the accountancy sector?
  9. What needs to be improved in the accountancy sector?
  10. What do you usually do when you have an upcoming deadline and several accounting projects to finish?
  11. How do you maintain accountancy accuracy?
  12. What’s the difference between private and public accounting?
  13. What accounting strategies do you use to find fraudulent entries in a ledger or journal?
  14. How have you helped companies or clients save money or use their available financial resources more effectively?
  15. Do you have any accounting qualifications or accreditations?


Tell me about yourself

This isn’t a question, but it is highly likely you will be asked to talk a little about yourself and your career. It may seem daunting and vague, but it will give you the opportunity to explain your career so far, relevant work experience and educational background.

The hiring manager is looking for you to demonstrate your value and your career development and journey so far up until now.


How to answer this question

To answer this question, prepare a few points that you can mention about yourself and your career. Mention your educational background, relevant work experience and any significant accomplishments along the way. You should aim to talk for 2-3 minutes, particularly if you are quite established within your career.  


Why do you want to be an Accountant?

This will no doubt be one of the first questions you are asked and it can set you up for the rest of the interview. When interviewing for an Accountant position, employers want to know what motivates you and inspired you to join the accountancy sector. 

The purpose of this question is to assess your perceptions, knowledge and passion of accounting to determine whether you are aware of what the role entails.


How to answer this question

This question gives you the opportunity to explain why you’re interested in accounting and why you want to work for that company specifically. Have a clear, concise answer that demonstrates your passion, enthusiasm and knowledge of the industry. 

Discuss your various aspects of accounting that you engage with and excel in so the interviewer has a better understanding of how your interests align with the responsibilities of the job.


Why do you want this particular role in our business?

The hiring manager wants to know that you’ve done your research and that you have an interest in their company. Employers want you to show enthusiasm and state why you want to work for them, what they offer and any future plans they have that you approve of or are impressed by. 


How to answer this question

Prior to an interview, you should do some thorough research on the accountancy practice you’re hoping to join. Be specific and look at their website, press releases or news articles which discuss things which they have achieved or excel in. 

For example, you may discover that the accountancy practice has a strong commitment to sustainable initiatives and you could discuss in the interview that this is something which you care about and would love to get involved in. You could even suggest strategies to further enhance what they’re already doing! 

Being across the small details will show that you have gone above and beyond to impress in the interview and showcase the attitude and commitment you would bring to the company. 


In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing Accountants today?

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.


How to answer this question

In your answer, you want to express your knowledge of the industry and the current state of the accountancy and finance sector. Support your beliefs with research, statistics and facts to demonstrate your knowledge and ability to identify challenges in the industry. 

Mention how you have or would overcome some of these challenges and solutions. Your problem solving skills will impress the hiring manager and showcase your knowledge and familiarity with the industry.


How have you led an accounting team to success?

The hiring manager is looking for quantifiable examples of your success and how you have contributed to success in previous roles. Hiring managers want you to identify aspects of your career and skills and gain insight into your processes and work ethic. 

Hiring managers are looking to see if you could drive their practice into success from your experience. They want to determine whether you have initiative and what it takes to take ownership and lead a team.


How to answer this question

Provide examples of times when you successfully led an accounting team or had to take on a leadership role. Be specific and explain how your skills allowed you to work well in a team and how it contributed to the bottom line.


Describe an accounting process you’ve developed or improved

The hiring manager wants to know how you have used your skills to develop an accounting procedure. If you are early on in your career this can be challenging to answer, however, the interviewer wants to see that you have critical thinking skills and are open to developing practices. 

Describe an instance in a past role where you sought to improve a workflow or developed a new way of doing something, even if it was a small but effective change.


How to answer this question

In your answer, explain how you have used your initiative and experience to improve or innovate the environment you're working in. Mention your skills and the way you have made a process more efficient, and saved company time and money. Mention your creativity and problem-solving skills and how they were crucial to make the operation more efficient.


What types of accounting software are you familiar with and what software do you like best?

An interviewer may ask this question to learn more about the accounting programmes you've previously used and your preferences. They want to assess your experience and how quickly you learn new programmes. 

Discuss which software you have the most experience with and which you've most recently used, but also include other programmes you've previously used in your answer.


How to answer this question

Your answer should include your preference(s) and an explanation of why e.g better features, quicker, more efficient etc. Your answer might also provide the interviewer with insight into how you work. Provide an answer that emphasises your preferences, decision-making skills and your ability to adapt to new softwares or systems.


What are the current trends in the accountancy sector?

The accountancy sector is constantly developing and adapting to changes driven by rapid advances in technology. The employer is looking to see if you are knowledgeable about the industry and enthusiastic about the trends and advancements.

A hiring manager will ask this to determine whether you are prepared and well-versed in the industry and if you have taken the time and initiative to do some research in preparation for your interview. It will also demonstrate your enthusiasm for the industry and changes in the accountancy sector.

The level of detail will depend on the role, but you will be expected to demonstrate an understanding and the time you took to research and understand current trends.


How to answer this question

Your answer should establish your awareness and understanding of the accountancy sector and the current trends and changes. The hiring manager wants you to include how trends impact the future of the accountancy sector and what that means for the future of the industry.

Demonstrate your ability to research and keep up to date with trends. You could display your experience and understanding of AI, accounting software, automation and the impact they have had on the accountancy and finance sector (up to now and how they could impact the future). Great candidates are aware of the impact of trends and new technologies and can explain their understanding and significance.


What needs to be improved in the accountancy sector?

The hiring manager is looking for knowledge about the current trends, any national problems and ways to improve things. They consider how candidates look at accounting as a whole business and are looking for ideas or solutions that can improve their practice and accountancy as a whole.


How to answer this question

Your answer should highlight your understanding of the changing accounting industry and the importance of finding ways to improve and initiate change not just in your practice but in the entire industry.

Provide examples and support your ideas with evidence and statistics to demonstrate your creativity, understanding of the accountancy sector and technical skills.


What do you usually do when you have an upcoming deadline and several accounting projects to finish?

This question is looking for information about your organisational and timekeeping skills. Accountants are expected to tackle many tasks and cope with deadlines and projects. Accountants are used to strict deadlines and expected to work on more than one project at a time. The hiring manager wants to learn about how you prioritise tasks and respond to high-pressure situations.


How to answer this question

In your answer, include how you have approached heavy work loads and handled deadlines and busy schedules. Emphasise your time management techniques and the ability to multitask on multiple projects. 

Include examples of how you have managed deadlines and the method you used to prioritise work without affecting the process.


How do you maintain accountancy accuracy?

In the accounting world, accuracy and attention to detail are key to success. A tiny mistake could cost your company a lot of money, especially if it's not detected and rectified immediately. The hiring manager is looking for you to be able to evaluate your organisational skills and ability to notice small details and provide quick solutions.


How to answer this question

In your answer, emphasise your devotion to accuracy and your ability to find and correct mistakes if they do occur. Reiterate the process or technique  you use to ensure accuracy and limit the possibility of error e.g. a software you use to keep track of receipts, real-time reports and bank statements. 

Discuss how you would respond if you made a mistake, and how you address errors quickly to mitigate the damage you could cause.


What’s the difference between private and public accounting?

A hiring manager may ask this question to learn more about your accounting knowledge. Your knowledge should be proportionate to the level of job you are applying to. 

For entry level positions, you won’t be expected to be across all of the smaller details that a senior employee would be expected to know. A hiring manager is looking for you to have done some research but also have an opinion based on your experiences or research.


How to answer this question

Give examples of each type of accounting, and highlight the differences between them. Consider mentioning the experiences you have had with both and what the challenges were or what you learnt. You may have a preference which you can mention, especially if it will be beneficial to you gaining the role.


What accounting strategies do you use to find fraudulent entries in a ledger or journal?

A hiring manager could ask this question to assess your specific knowledge and understanding of different responsibilities and skills an Accountant requires. 

You are expected to be familiar with ethics and have a knowledge of local accounting laws. Accountants need to remain vigilant to detect fraud and protect the company's finances and values. 


How to answer this question

Your answer should demonstrate your understanding of fraudulent behaviour and how you would use your judgement to identify unusual fraudulent patterns in records. Mention any software features or fraud monitoring tools you have experience with that detect fraud and how they have helped you in the past. Include any examples, your ability to act as an auditor and any accounting licence and certifications you hold.


How have you helped companies or clients save money or use their available financial resources more effectively?

A good Accountant can identify areas of wasteful spending and suggest strategies to reduce unnecessary expenses. The hiring company wants to know that you can contribute to the company's values and ethics not just as an Accountant but as a forward thinking, sustainable individual. Saving for more useful expenses shows you are passionate about the company and share the same values.


How to answer this question

In your answer, provide examples of how you have provided advice, knowledge or expertise to assist companies or clients. Provide data and statistics to show how you helped the company conserve resources and your willingness to make extra effort for their organisation. Your answer should display your analytical thinking, problem-solving skills and an understanding of the importance of saving money to benefit the company.


Do you have any accounting qualifications or accreditations?

Having a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licence or being a member of either the ICAEW, CGMA or ACCA, could sometimes give you an edge over other applicants. The hiring manager wants to know if you have taken measures to progress your career with an accreditation that recognises you as a financial expert.

The CPA licence isn’t the only certification you can mention. Other relevant accolades, such as the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certifications, can also boost your application depending on your chosen accounting career path.


How to answer this question

In your answer, mentioning any qualifications or accreditations you have or are currently working towards will demonstrate your willingness to learn and that you’ve already taken the initiative to do a qualification.

If you’re working toward your CPA, tell the interviewer about any sections you’ve passed so far or what your timeline to completion looks like. If you don’t have any qualifications, reiterate the importance of having goals and making time for accreditations and what they can do for your career.


How to prepare for an accounting interview

Interviews can be daunting and stressful no matter the profession. For Accountants, it means discussing technical achievements and being able to discuss software, regulations and organisational skills. 

To prepare for an accounting interview, brush up on your knowledge and advancements in the accountancy and finance sector, demonstrate your enthusiasm and value and prepare for accounting interview questions. 

In addition to delivering polished answers within the interview, you should also display passion and enthusiasm to join the company you’re interviewing with. 

According to StandOutCV, 4 in 10 employers would reject a candidate if they showed no enthusiasm, therefore it’s important to show an interest in the role and company you are applying for.


Accountancy jobs

If you’re searching for your dream Accountant job, it’s important to discover how to choose an accountancy practice that’s right for you which we discuss extensively in a recent blog! 

Why not take a look at all the latest job vacancies available or upload your CV? Alternatively, reach out to one of our specialist consultants, Matt Byrne-Fraser, who can give you advice and information on upcoming positions! 

If you’re new to the accounting industry, why not uncover how to get your first accounting job or useful information about what accounting jobs are in demand?


Accountancy recruitment services

Searching for qualified and experienced accounting staff? Check out all the accountancy recruitment services available now or give us a call on 01772 954200 to learn more information.


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