8 Crucial accounting questions to interview

Michael Linick
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 The role of accountants in every firm is invaluable. Accountants handle operations such as bookkeeping, filing taxes and the payroll among other functions. Accounting officers handle all the tasks that involve record keeping and presenting the reports for cumulative financial transactions for their organizations. Generally, your role as an accountant will involve handling responsibilities related to general ledger bookkeeping, payroll execution, managing bank statements, handling income and expenses, executing the organizations budget etc. all these functions will be followed up by the presentation of accurate reports to the top management who will be able to view the financial status of the organization from these reports.

 Every organization needs the services of a well-trained accountant. Businesses deal by making financial transactions; these are majorly executed by the accountants upon receipt of instructions from the top management. Accountants are also important when it comes to giving professional advice about the financial affairs of the organization. As an accountant, you are certain of receiving a good salary and there are immense potentials for self-improvement in this professional field.

 I am sure you can relate to situations where you find it hard to account for your expenses the previous month with apparently nothing to show for it. This is what companies will go through if they have not secured the services of a competent accountant. Without an accountant to manage payroll expenses and other running costs, a company will quickly find itself grappling with huge debts and many kinds of financial troubles.

What do the accountants receive? A salary that’s above the national average and job growth that’s expanding with the rise of the business. The growth and success of an organization ultimately depend on its ability to manage its financial resources appropriately with the help of a certified and proficient accountant.

 The main objectives of an interview should be to determine the skill sets of every candidate and also to understand their perceptions towards work and their individual personalities. The interview questions below have been created to probe candidates to reveal if they possess these qualities.

Question # 1:  Mention three important skills a competent accountant should have

 The answer to this question could be presented in a number of ways but it should contain details like the possession of abilities to process analytical thinking, excellent understanding of mathematics, and attention to detail.

Question #2: What would you describe the most challenging accounting experience in your career?

 During the course of every accounting career, there are bound to be many challenges. You should listen closely to know if the candidate has previously been actively involved in achieving goals aimed at reducing operational costs for their employers, keeping the books in order to prevent legal issues, elimination of wasteful expenses, and professional payroll management to prevent waste.

Question #3:  How good are you with accounting software products and do you have any preferences from the options available in the market?

  Accountants have a lot of options when it comes to purchasing and using accounting software. This software varies in their functionalities, price, and quality –  software just for invoicing like Inv24, or with more complex API.

The candidate should be able to explain the basic software and how their important functions can be used to the benefit of your organization. You should listen closely to know if the candidate is proficient in the use of different accounting software or if they prefer to use only one particular type of software. In this case, if the system in your organization uses different accounting software from what the candidate is used to, you will have to train them on how to use your systems. This could be expensive and time wasting.

Question #4: Why do you want this job in our firm?

 Accountants have a variety of options to use their professional skills. They could either choose to make money through freelancing or securing an employment.

What you should assess here is the background motivation that has pushed the candidate to seek employment and the chances that they will blend in properly into your system if you eventually employ them. This is important if you need employees who will work in your company for a long time. Look for any factors that will indicate the candidate is not capable of showing a deep sense of commitment to your organization after being employed.

Question #5:  Do you have any suggestions to help us improve any of our current operations?

 Here, you are probing to discover the candidates’ entrepreneurial mindset to know their level of comprehension of your business activities.

A candidate who really wants the job should have conducted a research to study your organization with the aim of identifying areas where their skills could be used to achieve improvement in your organization. This could be a good source of feedback for your business even if you won’t be hiring the candidate volunteering this important information.

Question #6:  Give us the details of how you have been able to reduce operational costs while working as an accountant in your previous employment.

 It is one of the primary duties of accountants to regularly seek ways to eliminate unnecessary costs. This should be an easy question for a well-trained accountant. They should be able to describe different circumstance when they saved their employers from suffering huge losses.

Question #7:  In what ways do you reduce making errors while at work?

 The nature of the accounting profession is such that one error could lead to huge losses. Every accountant should have their unique systems to prevent error. The basic strategies should include;

• Working as a team- there should be an open system that promotes knowledge sharing among the members of the team.

• A habit of consistently reviewing and double checking transactions and filing.

• Rechecking the results derived by using software manually with calculators.

Question #8:  Are you conversant with the recommended Accounting Standards?

 This should be an easy question for all accountants even those without a lot of experience. Accountants should know the basic international accounting standards (IAS). These standards are frequently reviewed but a competent accountant should regularly refresh their knowledge by studying the recent changes and modifications made. This will prepare them for a question like this to provide answers in line with current updates.

 Accountants are key players in the business world. The functions of accountants are important to sustain the success of an organizations daily business. Businesses thrive when all the aspects and supporting services function properly, hence a lapse in an area like the businesses accounting provisions will have a negative impact on the business.

 There are numerous gains from setting up an excellent accounting department. However, your accounting system will only deliver as many benefits as the proficiency of the accountant handling it. This is why you must get the very best candidates who will be employed to maximize your business potentials with proper accounting services.


About Michael Linick

About Michael Linick

Michael has worked in Employee Engagement for over six years as Consultant, Project Manager, Account Manager and – most recently Client Success Manager roles.  He works with major national and international companies to help them gain maximum benefits from employee feedback. 


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