9 Excel Interview Questions + How to Prepare Answers

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover different types of questions you may encounter during your Excel interview and take steps to prepare.

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Excel interviews: What to know in 2023

An upcoming interview for a position requiring Microsoft Excel skills can be an exciting opportunity to advance your career. As a spreadsheet software, Excel has become indispensable in a variety of fields, such as finance, business, marketing, project management, data analytics, and sales. Statista reports that, as of February 2023, over 1.3 million companies in the US are using Office 365, a cloud platform of apps that includes Excel [1].

In September 2023, ZipRecruiter had over 31,000 job listings related to Excel from companies like Lockheed Martin, Varsity Tutors, and UnitedHealth Group [2].


While the format of an Excel interview may vary from one organization or industry to the next, there are some definite ways you’ll need to prepare for an upcoming interview. These include researching the potential employer, reflecting on the value you can offer an organization, and thinking about how to answer Excel interview questions.

Hiring managers may ask you a variety of questions to gauge your technical skills, experience with Excel, passion for your field, and cultural fit. You should be able to discuss various Excel formulas and functions, weigh in on industry trends, and demonstrate your qualifications with ease. 

Continue reading to review Excel interview questions, strategies for preparing answers, tips for acing your interview, and courses you can take to boost your Excel skills for the job search. 

9 Microsoft Excel interview questions 

Given Excel’s variety of features and capabilities, you will likely encounter a lot of technical questions. Interviewers ask these to test your knowledge of and experience with Excel. Alongside technical questions, you may encounter behavioral questions that can help interviewers gather insights into your prior Excel experience and situational questions that can help interviewers gauge how you might perform in the role you seek. Consider also that interviewers may inquire about your future career plans with regard to Excel and the value you can offer the organization.

In the list below, we’ve included examples of these different types of questions, with suggestions on how to answer them. That way, you can prepare for a range of possibilities in the days leading up to your interview. 

Excel technical interview questions 

1. Can you describe some common functions in Excel?

Employers ask this and other basic Excel interview questions to assess your foundational Excel literacy, as well as your ability to explain different Excel functions and what they enable. 

Prepare your answer by making a list of the Excel functions you’re most familiar with, as well as common uses of Excel for the job you seek. For example, the conditional formatting feature works well for project management, while the IF function works well for data analysis. Practice using common functions and describing them accurately in terms a general audience could understand. 

2. What’s the purpose of protecting a workbook in Excel?

Employers ask this question to initiate a conversation about data security and version control measures and to gauge your familiarity with this capability in Excel. 

Prepare your answer by reviewing how to protect Excel workbooks. To do this, you can consult Microsoft’s support documentation on Excel protection and security and protecting a workbook. Then, brainstorm ways that Excel workbook protection could be used in the job you seek. 

3. What is What-If Analysis in Excel?

Employers ask this and other advanced Excel interview questions to assess your level of proficiency with Excel. What-If Analysis may be integral to the job, particularly for exploring potential scenarios and their variations, so employers will want to know that your skill with this function is job-ready. 

Prepare your answer by reviewing Microsoft’s What-If Analysis support documentation and brainstorming different applications in business contexts. Do a few exercises with this function in Excel to solidify your understanding of it. 

Excel behavioral and situational interview questions 

4. Describe a recent project you completed using Excel. 

Employers ask this question to learn more about your experience and level of proficiency with Excel, the level of complexity you’re accustomed to, and the results you are capable of bringing about.  

Prepare your answer by reflecting on successful Excel projects, particularly ones that required more advanced skills to complete. Write down the steps you took, functions you used, and what the project ultimately accomplished for stakeholders. Describe the outcome in quantifiable terms, if possible. Be sure to include details of skills you learned while completing the project and how you might apply them to the job you seek. 


Answer behavioral and situational questions using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) to tell compelling stories about your experience and capabilities. 


5. Tell me about a time when you used Excel alongside other tools and software. 

Employers ask this question to assess your ability to solve problems, come up with effective solutions to challenges, be resourceful, and learn a variety of skills for a given project or task. The employer may also have some specific tools in mind to use with Excel, and may want to gauge your level of comfort with combining them. 

Prepare your answer by reviewing projects for which you used other tools to enhance or extend Excel’s capabilities. What was their purpose? What steps did you take? Why did you choose the added tools? What was the result of the project? If you haven’t completed projects using Excel alongside other tools, consider investigating possible connections you could make and practicing a few processes, particularly those that you might perform in the job you seek. Be honest with the interviewer about these details. 

6. Can you share an example of how you learned a new Excel skill and applied it to a new project?

Employers ask this question to gauge your ability to learn skills quickly and execute on ideas. Being able to do this could translate to success in the job you seek, especially if it requires flexibility and innovative thinking. 

Prepare your answer by making a list of Excel skills you’ve mastered and used to complete projects. What was the purpose of the project? What skills did you need and what did you do to master them? What was the outcome of the project and your newly acquired skills? 


Throughout your job search and career development, stay in the know with regard to high-demand Excel skills. What skills are listed most often in job descriptions? What skills should you prioritize to qualify for your desired role? For example, ZipRecruiter’s Career Keyword Mapper for Data Analysis lists Microsoft Excel as a top technical skill, as well as SQL, statistics, and Python, based on actual job descriptions and resumes [3].


Excel professional development interview questions 

7. How do you keep yourself up-to-date on the latest Excel features and capabilities?

Employers ask this question to find out more about your passions when it comes to Excel and your commitment to keeping your knowledge current. 

Prepare your answer by making a list of Excel courses, trainings, or certifications you’ve completed, communities you’re a part of, and industry news sources you subscribe to. You can also review the latest ways that professionals and organizations in your field are using Excel. For example, if you search the Microsoft Tech Community forum, you can find information on the latest Excel capabilities, such as Formula Suggestions and Formula by Example. Write down what you’ve learned about Excel through the resources you consult and how you could apply these learnings to the role you seek.

8. What Excel skills do you want to add to your current skill set? 

Employers ask this question to discover more about your commitment to improvement and your ideas for how any new skills you learn can add value to the employer. 

Prepare your answer by making a list of priority Excel skills and the career goals they correspond to. For example, you might want to improve your data visualization skills in Excel to support your marketing analytics career goals. Be sure to add some details to your answer regarding how these new skills could apply to the job you seek. 

Read more: Marketing Analytics: What It Is and Why It’s Important

9. How could our organization make better use of Excel to achieve our goals?

Employers ask this question to gauge your enthusiasm for the role, the degree to which you have researched the organization, and your potential as an employee. They also want to observe how easily you come up with ideas that you could implement upon getting hired.

Prepare your answer by gaining a full understanding of the organization’s goals. You can do this by asking the recruiter in advance of the interview and reviewing the organization’s website and social media to see how the content reflects its mission statement. Then, find out more about the team or department you’ll be a part of and how Excel is currently being used. Use these details to identify underutilized features and functions of Excel and the potential benefits of engaging them. 

In addition to preparing answers to the above questions and others you may encounter, you’ll also need to prepare for the interview experience as a whole. By following these tips, you can approach your interview with confidence and ideas that are fresh on your mind. 

1. Practice different Excel tasks prior to the interview. 

Go through the motions of different Excel tasks, such as formatting data and creating charts. This method of preparation can be especially useful if the employer requires you to take an Excel aptitude test as part of the recruitment process. Be sure to find out about all the steps of getting hired, including multiple rounds of interviews and the timetable for receiving an offer. 

Read more: How to Negotiate Your Salary: 10 Tips to Earn More

2. Prepare to answer general interview questions. 

Interview questions about Excel may take up only a portion of the questions a hiring manager might ask you. It’s a good idea to anticipate general questions like “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” or “What inspired you to apply for this job?” and prepare answers that present your qualifications in the best light. 

Read more: 10 Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

3. Refresh your resume and other application materials. 

Even with an interview already lined up, take a few minutes to improve your resume. Doing so can put your strengths and accomplishments on the forefront of your mind, so that during the interview you can recall ideas more easily. 

Here are some ways to refresh your resume:

  • Add more action words to highlight your responsibilities and projects in prior positions. 

  • Quantify your achievements to show their impact.

  • Add an objectives section to demonstrate your career aspirations.

  • List additional technical skills that align with your desired role.

Sharpen your Excel skills with Coursera

Taking online courses can be a great way to prepare for an interview, build skills for a new position, and advance your career. Explore Coursera offerings below:

Article sources


Statista. “Number of companies using Office 365 worldwide as of February 2023, by leading country, https://www.statista.com/statistics/983321/worldwide-office-365-user-numbers-by-country/.” Accessed August 30, 2023. 

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