Accounting is among the oldest professions with high demand. Every organization needs an accountant to steer its financial direction. A degree in Accounting or Finance and a CPA designation are key in this role. Accounting is also a highly competitive field, and you need great preparation before attending an interview. Have a look at the below questions that you are likely to encounter in your next interview.
1. Why Are You Interested In This Role?
I have been fascinated with numbers since I was young. I enjoy analyzing data and putting my numerical and analytical skills to good use. I believe that we should all do work that we enjoy. That work is accounting for me. Numbers make me come alive. I also enjoy sharing the interpretation of the data with management to enable good decision-making. In terms of culture, the organization is committed to being a top employer and would love to be part of the team.
2. What Are The Roles Of A Staff Accountant?
Staff accountants analyze financial transactions and generate financial statements for the business, such as balance sheets, profit, loss statements, and cash flow statements. Any other that may be requested by the management. They maintain the general ledger and ensure the transactions are posted in the relevant accounts. They prepare the payroll and related statutory deductions and submit the same to the required authorities. They plan and prepare taxes for the company. They reconcile accounts, prepare payments for creditors and ask for payments from debtors.
3. What Are The Qualities That A Staff Accountant Need To Be Successful?
Accountants need a strong work ethic. They should portray integrity as they are trusted in managing a company’s resources. They should be detail-oriented as they handle huge volumes of data. They should be time conscious to ensure they meet deadlines both internal and external to the organization. They should have great communication skills and be team players so that they can support each other in the department and also everyone in the organization.
4. What Major Challenges Did You Face During Your Last Role? How Did You Manage Them?
In my last role, the challenges I faced were cash flow and expense management. Despite budgets being in place, many expenses were being incurred that were not allowed in the budget. This affected our cash flow projections since the expense categories had not been budgeted for. This was sometimes done by directors who made it very hard to control.
5. Describe Your Daily Routine As A Staff Accountant?
As an accountant, my daily routine varies depending on the year or month. On a typical day, I handle the posting of supplier invoices and confirm if bank statements and the transactions in the system match. I do bank reconciliations daily and update the cash flow statements as required. I also monitor expenses and update the budgets daily. I respond to correspondence shared by other departments and suppliers as well as customers. I keep reports up to date such that decisions can be made based on updated information. At the end of my workday, I make a plan for the next day.
6. Describe Briefly About Your Experience?
I have over seven years of experience in accounting and administration. I am highly skilled in budgeting, cash flow monitoring, and expense tracking. I am also skilled in cost accounting and managing accounting processes. I have worked in the manufacturing sector, hospitality as well as fast-moving consumer goods. The various sectors ensure that I am flexible and versatile to handle roles in accounting in different sectors and environments. Since this organization is involved in manufacturing, I believe the skills gained so far will be instrumental to my success in the company.
7. What Kind Of Strategies And Mindset Is Required For This Role?
Accountants need to be strategic thinkers as they advise management on the way forward in financial matters. They should also have an investor mindset to help the company put the cash into good use. They should also be growth-oriented to steer the organization to create more wealth sustainably. An analytical mind will ensure any environmental risks are identified and measures are taken to ensure no effect on operations.
8. What Is The Biggest Challenge You Foresee In This Job?
The biggest challenge is getting to know the team I will interact with, as some are in other cities, and we are supposed to submit reports together. To accomplish this, I plan to use technology such as zoom meetings and chat with them. I will also need to learn the software program being used by the organization as I have not used it before.
9. How Do You Stay Motivated At Work?
I am passionate about accounting and enjoy routine day-to-day tasks. I am motivated by knowing roughly what I am expected to do daily, depending on the time of year. I plan my tasks meticulously and endeavor to clear my to-do list before the day ends. This keeps me motivated as I can see the progress I am making. I also keep abreast of the current trends in the industry, which enables me to create informed reports for management.
10. Describe A Time You Failed In This Role And The Lesson You Learned?
In a previous role, I forgot to run the daily backup for a week because we had not encountered any challenges with the accounting system. Then the system crashed. We had to redo a week’s worth of work. This taught me always to take caution and not assume just because it has not already happened that it won’t happen. This also enabled me to implement other risk mitigation measures, such as fraud control in the organization. I now keep creating backups daily to avoid running into such an issue again.
11. Why Do You Feel You Are Qualified For This Role?
My background experience and skills make me a great candidate for this role. I have seven years of experience in the manufacturing industry dealing with the same range of products. I have handled the costing of products, managed work in progress as well as maintained inventory. In addition, I have processed payroll and its associated deductions, as well as filed taxes for companies. I am also organized, tech-savvy, and detail-oriented, which are attributes the organization is looking for in a candidate. Based on the job description and the person specification, I am a perfect match and believe I will make a great addition to the team.
12. Share With Us Your Greatest Achievement
I was able to save my previous employer 43% on expenditure. I realized that departments were over budgeting and to make their budgets meaningful, they would be wasteful so as not to be questioned on why they overbudgeted their expenditure. I worked closely with the departmental heads, putting together an optimum budget that eliminated any waste. As a result, the profit margins improved, and the company was able to invest in growing the business as a result.
13. Explain The Processes You Are Most Familiar Within Accounting.
In my previous role, I was responsible for general ledger maintenance. I would post journals into the system and ensure that the accounts are reconciled. I also coordinate the budgeting exercise in the organization every month and ensure that departments stick to their budgeted expenditure levels. I am skilled in costing both works in progress as finished goods. Monthly, I report on the profit and loss situation of the organization as well as give an expenditure track against the budget and the cash flow for business operations.
14. What Is The Difference Between Accounts Receivable And Accounts Payable?
Accounts receivable is money that the company expects to collect from its customers and also partners.
Accounts payable, on the other hand, is money that the company owes its suppliers and other creditors. I have experience handling both payables and receivables. For receivables, I can make projections on what the company is expecting and chasing for the payment from the clients. I process supplier payments based on the agreed credit terms to ensure that the company is on top of its payables.
15. What Is The Process That You Use In Budgeting?
I prefer the zero-based budgeting method, where we do a budget from zero every month. We review the budget of the previous month to use to predict our income for the coming month. We then prepare the budget for the current month according to the departments. I combine the budgets to make a companywide budget for the organization. I share the budget with management for approval and then execute it. I keep evaluating daily to check if we are moving in line with the budget and make adjustments where necessary.
16. How Do You Plan Yourself To Meet Tight Deadlines?
Deadlines characterize accounting. To meet them, I plan my to-do list well, considering the deadlines. I classify my to-do list based on urgency and the importance of tasks. I focus on doing the most urgent and key tasks daily. I break down the tasks into manageable bits and keep working on them to ensure the deadlines are met.
17. How Do You Ensure Accuracy In Your Work?
I have implemented some measures to check for accuracy in my work. These checks keep my work as accurate as possible. I understand that accounting errors are expensive and may mislead management. When unsure of the calculations, I refer to the IFRSs and IASs. I also consult colleagues or other experienced accountants. I get my work reviewed by the other members of the department as well as the Finance Manager, who give pointers on any issues they can pinpoint.
18. Are You Familiar With Accounting Standards?
Accounting standards give a directive on how transactions are to be accounted for in organizations. I studied IFRSs and IASs in college. I understand their interpretation and how they should be implemented in organizations. I also have access to them online to keep abreast of changes and interpretations of the standards. In my previous roles, I have relied on IAS to ensure that reports meet the required standards.
19. How Do You Explain Complex Accounting Information To Someone With No Accounting Background?
For non-accountants, I break the information down and explain it in simple terms. I avoid the use of accounting jargon. I transform the figures into charts and graphs that someone can easily understand. At times I explain a story in a way that someone will understand clearly what I am passing across. I maintain my focus on key numbers. I also break down the information on reports, in summary, interpreting the results of the organization. At periodic intervals, I ask questions to be sure they understand what I mean.
20. Which Accounting Software Are You Conversant With?
I have extensive experience using Quick Books, Sage, Pastel, and Xero. I also possess advanced Microsoft excel skills, which are crucial for any accountant. Over my years working with the different systems, I realized that the concept is the same, and as long as you know how to work with one, you can handle the others. All you need is to be flexible and open to learning which will ensure you adapt to any environment that you will find yourself in.
21. What Is A Key Challenge Faced By Accountants And How Will You Deal With It?
The main challenge we face is changing laws and regulations. Income tax codes keep being updated at the state and the federal levels. The IFRSs and IASs also keep changing, and their interpretations are revised from time o time. To counter this I keep in touch with the current developments in the industry by subscribing to newsletters and reading alerts issued by the Big Four accountancy firms. They normally break down any rules that take effect in a way that is concise and straight to the point.
22. What Is The Impact You Expect In Accounting From Adopting AI And Automation?
Technology transforms how business is done. It should work for us and not against us. Artificial Intelligence and automation will streamline processes and make operations smooth. This will work well for repetitive tasks such as data replication between systems. This will enable accountants to focus on the tasks that require a human touch and are key to the business. This will enhance productivity and reduce error rates. People are worried about job losses, but I think the potential benefits far outweigh the negatives.
23. Have You Improved Or Streamlined An Accounting Process?
In my previous role, we streamlined the filing system to aid in retrieving documents when requested by the other departments. This also made the audit process smooth as retrieval of the requested information was fast. Another process that has been key in changing operations has to be ensuring bank reconciliations are done every day. This has made it easy to perform end-of-month closing procedures, and therefore reports are almost on a real-time basis. This has helped the company be able to make decisions fast and take advantage of any changes in the environment.
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24. Have You Been Involved In A Cost Reduction Exercise? How Did It Go?
Cost reduction is at the heart of most accounting jobs. When I joined my previous employer I realized that the budgets prepared by departments had room for waste. They would deliberately over budget and then spend the money to ensure they are not called out for leaving a big room in their budgets. I worked with the departments and optimized the budgeting process. This exercise saved the company 40% of the previously budgeted expenditure. I analyze the budgets every month taking into account the changing needs of the business while preventing room for waste.
25. If You Were To Draw a Conclusion On The Health Of A Company, What Financial Statement Would You Choose?
I will choose the statement of cash flows. Cash is king, so I would check to ensure that the company has the finances to continue operations. This being said, it is unfair to analyze the financial health of a company by just one report. You will need all three reports, which are the statement of profit and loss, balance sheet, and cash flow statement, to draw meaningful conclusions. This will ensure that the organization’s performance is measured based on multiple levels and that useful information is derived after that can assist in decision making.
Landing an accounting interview can make you nervous and excited simultaneously. The important thing is being prepared for the interview. Use the above tips to get ready for the interview. Preparation and confidence will place you above other candidates, and the interviewer will consider you a great addition to their team.