When it comes to finding the perfect accounting professionals for your accounting firm, make sure that you have the right questions to ask in an accounting interview in order to get a sense of their qualifications and experience. Asking questions is the best way to determine if a job prospect is truly right for the job description, and it can also help you get a sense of their experience and expertise.
In this blog post, you’ll quickly see:
- 4 different types of questions you can ask in an interview
- 23 of the top accounting questions to ask potential accountants
4 Types of Questions to Ask in an Accounting Interview
By asking these four types of questions during a job interview, you can get a good idea of whether or not the candidate is right for your accounting firm.
1) Warm-Up Questions
The first type of question is called a warm-up question. These accountant interview questions help break the ice and get the conversation flowing while making the candidate feel more comfortable in what’s typically an uncomfortable situation.
2) Goal Questions
Once you have warmed up the job candidates, it is time to move on to goal questions. These interview questions are designed to help you understand what the candidate is looking for in their career.
3) Attitude Questions
Hiring the wrong person for a job can be extremely costly and time-consuming for your business. In fact, 46% of new hires fail in the first 18 months and 89% of those that did not work out failed because they had the wrong attitudes required for the company (ie. they’re not failing due to lack of skill).
By asking questions that test for attitude, you will be able to get a sense of whether the candidate is a good fit for your business.
4) Experience Questions
The next type of questions to ask in an interview are experience questions. These interview questions will help you assess whether the candidate has the required skills and experience for the job. Understanding what it takes to be successful within the company can help you decide if you’re a good fit, and identify which hard and soft skills you possess that make you right for the position.
The Top 23 Accounting Interview Questions to Ask
The following questions are my favorite to help firm owners and hiring managers assess if the role and firm are a good fit for the candidate and vice versa.
Question 1: What do you do for fun?
This question helps you get to know the candidate on a personal level but it’s also a great warm-up question to get the candidate comfortable.
Question 2: What does your ideal job look like right now?
This question helps you understand what the candidate is looking for in their career. If they are looking for a job that is very different from the one you are offering, then they may not be a good fit for your company.
Question 3: What does your ideal work environment look like?
This question helps you understand whether the candidate’s personality meshes well with your company culture. If they’re looking for a remote position that involves few meetings and your firm is the complete opposite, that’s clearly a warning sign.
Question 4: Could you tell me about a time when you made a major mistake that you made at work?
This question helps you assess the candidate’s attitude towards mistakes. If they take responsibility for their actions rather than pointing the blame elsewhere, then you know you have someone that’s accountable and humble, which is a trait I always look for.
Question 5: Could you tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer?
This question helps you assess the candidate’s customer service skills. By telling a story about a time when they had to deal with a difficult customer, you can see how they coped with the situation and whether they were able to resolve the issue.
Question 6: Could you tell me about a time when you faced something really frustrating at work?
This question helps you assess the candidate’s attitude towards problems. If they are able to state the problem along with a solution, that is a good sign.
Question 7: Could you tell me something that you have taught yourself in the last 12 months?
This question assesses the applicant’s desire to learn and develop. If they can name a few things they’ve learned in the last year, that’s excellent. For example, they may have had to learn how to use the accounts payable and accounts receivable systems or how to set up a certain accounting process all on their own. If they can’t think of anything, that’s not a great sign.
Question 8: Could you tell me about a time where you had a lot of tasks and deadlines assigned to you?
This question helps you assess the candidate’s ability to handle stress and multi-tasking. By telling a story about a time when they had a lot of tasks and deadlines, you can see how they coped with the pressure.
Question 9: What is your favorite piece of software?
This is a question that can help gauge how tech-savvy a candidate is as well as their familiarity with different accounting programs. Will I get a run-of-the-mill response or will I get something a bit more out of the box?
Question 10: Tell me about the most difficult accounting problem you had to deal with?
This question is important because it helps assess the candidate’s skills and experience. By telling a story about a difficult accounting problem they had to deal with, you can see how they coped with the situation and whether they were able to resolve the issue.
Question 11: What was the reason you left your last job?
With this question, you’re trying to get a sense of the candidate’s work history and whether they have had any issues with job-hopping.
Question 12: What do you know about us?
This question is important because it allows you to assess whether the candidate has done their research about your company. If they know nothing, then probably they aren’t as eager as some of the other candidates.
Question 13: What would success look like for you one year from now?
I like this question because it helps you gauge the candidate’s long-term goals. By asking this question, you can get a sense of whether they are a good fit for your company.
Question 14: Could you tell me about a time when you could not accomplish something on your own and that you had to work as a team?
Here you are trying to see if the accountant is a team player and gives credit to others. If they answer with a story about how they had to work as part of a team to overcome an obstacle, that is a good sign. On the other hand, if they take all the credit for themselves or try to place blame on someone else, then that is not ideal.
Question 15: Could you tell me about a time when you were given a task but didn’t have all the information you needed to complete it?
This question can help gauge how resourceful an accountant is. If they were able to find a solution even when they were missing important information, then that shows that they are proactive and can think on their feet.
Question 16: Tell me about a time when you made an accounting error.
With this interview question, you want to know how the candidate deals with making mistakes. Do they take responsibility for their actions and learn from them? Or do they try to pass the blame? If the candidate tries to deflect responsibility, that’s a red flag. You want someone who is accountable for their own work.
Question 17: Give me an example of a time when you had to explain a complex situation to a client.
This could be a good question to ask if you’re looking for an accountant who is good with clients. By asking this question, you can see how the candidate handles explaining complex accounting information in a way that is easy for the client to understand.
Question 18: Have you ever been in a situation in your past job where things got a bit tough? What did you do?
Another good question to ask in an accounting interview is to find out if the candidate has ever been in a difficult situation and how they handled it. It is important to know if the person is someone who can persevere when times are tough or if they tend to give up easily.
You can also ask about cash flow statement or financial statements if you want more specific accounting questions. But these are some general questions that will help you get started
Question 19: Tell me about yourself.
This is an icebreaker question and it’s a good opportunity for you to get to know the candidate better as well as warm them up.
Question 20: What accounting software have you used?
This is a good question that hiring manager to ask for accounting professional as it can help assess their experience and skills. By asking this question, you can get a sense of whether they are familiar with the enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, or accounting software that you use with your clients.
Questions 21: Provide your understanding of the following accounting questions.
Ask questions to evaluate their understanding of accounting. Here are some samples to gauge their accounting proficiency:
- What is generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) Income statement?
- What are the routine accounting transactions?
- What is your knowledge regarding the business entity concept?
Question 22: What other accounting certifications do you hold?
The Certified Public Accountant license demonstrates to you that your candidate has been approved and is devoted to the accounting industry and profession. Those who currently have a CPA license will stand out from the crowd since they possess actual recognized financial literacy skills.
Question 23: Do you have anything that you want to ask me?
Here’s a good question to ask as a final interview question. It allows the candidate to get any last things on their mind answered when it comes to the available position.
And Now Over to You…
That’s it for my list of the top interview questions accounting firms can ask to hire accountants. Do you have a question that you always ask in interviews? Let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear about it!