Interview Questions for Accountants
1. Name three skills you think all accountants should possess.
The ideal answer to this question would involve skills along the lines of analytical thinking, strong math skills, and attention to detail. That said, these questions provide a great chance to see how the applicant views their own strengths without directly asking them – most interviewees will discuss a list of their own skills when asked this question.
2. What was the toughest accounting task you faced in your career?
Accounting is a very difficult profession. A candidate who has helped former employers cut costs, reduce monetary waste, and stay out of legal hassles is a huge bonus. Listen closely for evidence of one or all of the above.
3. What software packages for accounting are you comfortable using and what would you change about them?
There are dozens of software packages for accountants, and they vary in price, quality, and function.
An applicant can give you a good idea of their professional background by answering this question, and a good one will display a nuanced understanding of the tradeoff between price and function. Watch out for candidates who are stuck on one particular type of software – if you don’t use it and they are too attached to their favorite software, the learning curve could be long.
4. Why do you want to work with us?
Accountants can choose from firms, companies, and running their own freelance business. So why does this candidate want to work with you?
You need to understand their motivation and how to keep them interested in your business if you want this hire to stick around. One red flag to watch for is a weak answer to this question. Due to the difficult nature of an accounting position, a candidate who isn’t committed to your company, in particular, could soon be looking elsewhere, costing you a small fortune in the process.
5. Do you see anything our company is currently doing that we could improve?
This question tests your potential hire’s business sense. How well do they understand the processes taking place in other areas of the company?
A smart candidate will be watching for ways to improve existing processes and enthusiastic about changes they can make to improve your company. Listen carefully – even if this isn’t the right candidate, it never hurts to be open to external feedback.
6. Describe a time when you’ve helped decrease costs.
Cutting unnecessary costs is part of a great accountant’s regular work. It should be easy for a good candidate to name a few examples of situations when they were able to positively impact their employer’s bottom line.
7. How do you minimize errors in your work?
An error in accounting can be costly for any company. Accountants should have a set system for reducing errors, and should display a few key attributes:
- Team players – an openness to asking other team members if faced with an extremely difficult scenario.
- Review-minded – double-check all work.
- Not software-dependent – repeat all work with calculator and software to ensure accuracy.
Additional Interview Questions to Ask:
- What drew you to accounting as a profession?
- How do you view your role on a team? Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a group?
- How have you implemented recent tax law changes in your company?
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