9 Accounting Interview Questions + How to Prepare Answers

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover how to answer priority questions for your upcoming accounting interview and use our tips and resources in your job search.

[Featured Image] Two accountants prepare to answer accounting interview questions together. They are standing at a large conference table in a room lined with bookshelves.

What to expect for an accounting interview

An upcoming interview for an accounting position can be an exciting moment, whether you are launching your career, looking for an advanced role, or even switching to accounting from another industry. You may be wondering what are common interview questions employers will ask you, the kind of answers you should prepare to showcase your accounting knowledge, and what else you should expect for your interview. 

As with interviews in many professions, it’s a good idea to reflect not only on your skills in the accounting field, like preparing financial and cash flow statements, monitoring financial activities, and using software, but also on your workplace skills such as communication and analytical thinking. In addition, it’s important to be able to explain to employers how your skills, experience, and education can translate to a company’s success.

Read on to discover common accounting interview questions that employers may ask you during the hiring process and how you can prepare with techniques like the STAR Method to answer successfully.

9 accounting interview questions 

We selected the questions in this section to give you an idea of the questions that accounting professionals encounter during interviews, as well as how employers are designing interviews to find the best candidates. Below you’ll find technical questions measuring your accounting knowledge, behavioral questions that highlight how you’ve performed in past roles, and situational questions that explore how you might handle situations that might come up in the position you’re applying for.  

These questions are based on: 

  • Job seekers’ reports on Glassdoor of accounting questions they’ve answered 

  • Advice for employers on Indeed and LinkedIn on what to look for in an accounting candidate

1. Which accounting software packages are you comfortable using? 

Employers ask this to gauge your familiarity with the various software programs available, especially ones you’d be using in the role you’re applying to fill. 

Prepare your answer by reflecting on your experience with programs and how you’ve found them to be useful in your previous accounting roles. In addition, review the job description and research programs that you may not have experience with and prepare to discuss the range of possibilities for the role. 

2. What are the common financial statements used in accounting?  

Employers ask this to test your accounting knowledge and how you demonstrate your understanding of different concepts and processes. 

Prepare your answer by reviewing definitions of different types of financial statements, such as the balance sheet, income statements, and cash flow statement, and reviewing your own experience putting these statements together.

3. How would you explain a complicated accounting process or report to someone outside of the accounting team? 

Employers ask this to get a sense of how you conduct cross-functional conversations and whether you explain accounting concepts well enough to help non-accountants make informed decisions. 

Prepare your answer by reflecting on different accounting scenarios, writing down explanations, in simple terms, and connecting them to business procedures that people in non-accounting roles would be responsible for. 

4. What is your accounting experience in different industries? 

Employers ask this to understand the diversity of your experience in different accounting departments and your ability to adapt to different contexts.  

Prepare your answer by reflecting on your past work experiences. If you have diverse accounting experience, practice emphasizing how you adapted to different accounting requirements. If your accounting experience is limited to only a few industries or roles, practice emphasizing the diversity of projects you may have completed. 

5. How do you stay up-to-date on new tax laws and regulations? 

Employers ask this to get a sense of how you continue your own education as an accountant and keep your skills current.  

Prepare your answer by taking inventory of accounting influencers or brands you are subscribed to, conferences and classes you attend, and courses and certificate programs you’ve completed. Take some time before the interview to identify additional career development resources you’d like to pursue. Practice explaining how you apply new tax law and regulation insights to past and current roles. 

6. What accounting processes are you most familiar with?

Employers ask this to find out how the specifics of your accounting background—the actual tasks, processes, and projects you’ve been responsible for in previous roles or learned about through coursework—will translate to the role you now want to fill.  

Prepare your answer by making a list of accounting processes with which you are familiar, including complex accounting procedures, such as mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures. Write down examples of how these processes work in real-world business situations. 

7. How do you handle a tight deadline and multiple accounting projects you’re responsible for? 

Employers ask this to find out how you adjust your productivity and workflow when pressure mounts. 

Prepare your answer by emphasizing your time management skills. You can point to work experiences in the past or describe how you’d handle hypothetical work situations that are relevant to the position you’re applying for.  

8. How have you used automation to improve accounting processes? 

Employers ask this to learn how you can bring efficiency and precision to the accounting team. 

Prepare your answer by exploring your experience with automation and the measurable effect of it on projects you’ve worked on in the past. 

9. What experience do you have leading an accounting team? 

Employers ask this to learn about any leadership skills you have and how they might apply to the position you’re applying for. 

Prepare your answer by exploring all of your past leadership experiences in accounting. Besides managerial roles you may have held, include instances when you’ve exhibited leadership on a day-to-day basis, such as training a co-worker on a new program or process, delivering a presentation to stakeholders, or serving as a project accountant.

In addition to preparing to answer priority questions, use the following tips and resources to interview with confidence:  

  • Reflect on your qualifications, such as a CPA license, experience at a public accounting firm, and specific areas of expertise.

  • Conduct thorough research into each company you're applying to work for, including the mission statement and values, products they offer, growth potential, financial goals, and structure of the accounting department.  

  • Prepare questions to ask potential employers, based on your company research and details in the job description. These might include, “What are the next steps in the recruitment process?” or “What would you like a new hire in this role to accomplish in the first 90 days?”

  • Prepare to answer general interview questions like, “Why are you leaving your current job?” or “Tell me about a time you corrected a mistake you made on the job.” 

  • Reflect on your accounting career goals at all junctures of your job search. 

Read more: 10 Examples of Strengths and Weaknesses for Job Interviews

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Taking online courses can be a great way to build accounting knowledge, discover career options, and even gather ideas for your upcoming interview. Coursera offers several accounting learning experiences in partnership with the University of Illinois, the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, AICPA, and CIMA. Inside, you can explore tax laws, use data analysis to make accounting decisions, and prepare financial statements.

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