Accounting and finance interview questions

Congratulations, you’ve proceeded to the next round of your job application for a finance or accounting position. Now comes the job interview stage – the opportunity for the employer to winnow that shortlist down to the best candidate possible.

And essentially, the job interview provides you with the opportunity to make an impression as the best suited applicant for the role. To prove you’re the right candidate, this means preparing well for the job interview questions that could be presented to you.

But what finance and accounting interview questions could you be asked that delve into not just your work experience, but your suitability for the job?

Examples of accounting and finance interview questions

Here are ten finance and accounting interview questions and answers that hiring managers may ask to discover if you’re the right fit for the role.

1. What is the difference between accounts receivable (AR) and accounts payable (AP)?

This is one of many elementary interview questions for accountants that you may be asked to explore your general accounting knowledge. While it’s quite simple to respond with the basic definition that accounts receivable are assets and accounts payable are liabilities, take this question as an opportunity to demonstrate your actual previous work experience with these tasks.

2. When a company is using double-entry accounting, what elements of a given ledger must be equal?

Among the many accounting interview questions you could be asked, this one is fairly straight-forward. Candidates with some accounting training or experience should have no trouble answering it. As with question one, how you reply may show whether you’re under- or overqualified for a junior-level position.

3. If a company has three bank accounts for processing payments, what is the minimum number of ledgers it needs?

This is a starting point to explore your knowledge of ledgers. Your response could lead to further discussion of your skills related to the job you are applying for. The interviewer will expect your responses to reveal the extent to which you have thought through how accounts relate to lines of business and generally accepted accounting principles.

4. What are two or three types of accounting or finance publications?

While still a fairly basic question, you may tailor your response according to the specifics of the role you’re applying for or to the company’s recognised approach. Or, as a skill test, you may be presented with a few publication samples and asked to explain them. The way you demonstrate your communication skills here will show your skill level in identifying mistakes or omissions.

5. What methods have you used for estimating bad debt?

Accounting interview questions such as these can open conversations about the way you have approached this routine process with previous employers. This line of inquiry allows recent grads to apply theoretical knowledge in venturing educated guesses. Your answer will reveal the level of understanding of the methods most commonly used and could open a dialogue about how you may handle this scenario.

6. Why is it easier for someone to perpetrate fraud using a journal entry than with a ledger?

Accounting professionals, particularly those who have managed ledgers or worked as full-charge accountants for more than a couple of years, should be able to speculate on this scenario. A candidate with more formal training specific to auditing or fraud analysis will likely explain this thoroughly and be able to provide examples.

7. Which enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems have you used?

Most professionals, especially those with experience working for medium to large organisations, should have an answer for this. A response might include any of the following: Hyperion, Microsoft Dynamics GP or Oracle Enterprise Manager. For entry-level candidates, you might turn this into a discussion of finance certifications and future training possibilities. Discussion of these tools, how you learned them and what applications you have used will reveal how much, if any, staff training you might need if hired.

8. What is your experience with developing business metrics?

Though somewhat general, this type of finance and accounting interview questions can elicit answers that are useful in evaluating entry-level business or financial analyst candidates all the way up to mid-career professionals who aspire to roles that come with budget and staff oversight responsibilities.

9. If a private company with break-even operations received a $10 million investment, how would you develop a strategy to spend or invest that money?

This falls into the category of behavioural interview techniques, a tactic useful in gauging your ability to think through a scenario like one that might be faced in a more senior finance role. Your response will show the hiring manager if your approach is in alignment with that of the existing team, which will also indicate if you’re a good cultural fit for the company.

10. What challenges have you faced in leading a team through an analysis project?

This interview question is designed for probing leadership skills. It allows the interviewer to better explore the particularities of your interest in the position and your background. As with question nine, your reply will reveal the level of critical thinking skills and elicit a better picture of your leadership skills.

By preparing for these finance and accounting interview questions, you are sure to be ready for your next job interview, and ready to demonstrate your suitability for the job on offer.

Want more examples of common finance and accounting interview questions and answers? Take a look at our Business Analyst interview questions or search for current jobs.