Accounting & Finance Interview Questions

Posted by Fed Finance Canada in Our employment advice
Posted at 24/11/2023
Accounting & Finance Interview Questions
For the most part, recruiters tend to ask fairly standard questions during interviews, because they know these questions will help them acquire important information about prospective employees. Obviously, every interview will follow its own rhythm and include other more specific questions geared towards your professional field. So here are some tips on answering common accounting interview questions to help you feel more calm and prepared for your next job interview.

Remember, our finance recruitment agency is here to help! Let’s take a look at 10 common job interview questions... plus bonus questions for finance and accounting interviews!

Classic job interview questions

Some interview questions are asked almost across the board, regardless of sector. Despite their general nature, they are often offer important clues for getting to know a candidate, and you need to prepare well for your interview to be able to answer them.

1. Tell me about yourself

Almost all job interviews start with a question to break the ice and get to know the candidate. The goal is to find out more about who you are and what you have to offer. Your prospective employer wants to determine whether you’re well-equipped for the job and whether your personality is the right fit for the company.

Your answer should focus on your professional experience and interests. You can include any facts that indicate you are a good candidate for the position. Take care not to simply summarize your CV—the recruiter has probably already read it. Instead, explain how your previous positions have equipped you for the job you’re currently applying for.

2. Why are you interested in this position?

If you get the job, will you be passionate about it or are you just desperate to find work? Even if the latter is closer to the truth, it’s better to research the company and position you are applying for, and use this question as an opportunity to refer to what you learned. This will demonstrate that you took the time to prepare for the interview. This question may seem easy to answer, but it’s not as simple as you might think.

Before your interview, read the job description carefully and try to determine which skills and aptitudes the employer is looking for. With this in mind, you’ll be able to list any of your qualities that would make you an ideal candidate for the position. It’s also a good idea to refer to specific situations that demonstrate your strengths, so prepare some examples in advance!

3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Ah . . . the famous question citing 5 strengths and 5 weaknesses . . . If you say too much, you risk alienating your interviewer, but if you say too little, you may come across as arrogant and untruthful. Describing yourself well in an interview is an art.

The trick is to present any weaknesses in a way that won’t make you less attractive to recruiters. Explain how you identified your weakness and what you are doing to correct it. This attitude will show that you are willing to learn and improve.

A bit of self-deprecating humour might be useful here, but be careful not to overdo it.

4. Why you, and not another candidate?

This can be a tricky question! But it's a question that can cleverly reveal your frame of mind. Are you prepared to put others down to put yourself forward, or can you make a point without being condescending?

In reality, when you answer this question you are demonstrating why the recruiter should hire you, and not why you might be better than other candidates. It’s a good idea to explain that your goal isn't to say you're better than everyone else, but to show that you possess certain assets that could be particularly useful to the company. Humility often pays off, and all you need to do is to focus on the value of your candidature rather than compare yourself to others.

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

It’s normal to have career aspirations that go beyond your current position. Most employers understand that ambitious workers are always on the lookout for new opportunities. You don’t need to pretend that you’ll still be in the same place 5 years from now. Be truthful about your dream job, particularly if that position exists at the company you’re applying to. Express your passions and interests in a way that shows that you are motivated to grow professionally.

6. Tell us about a challenge you faced, and how you overcame it.

The purpose of this question is to assess three essential aspects of a candidate’s behavioural attitude:

  • The ability to identify a problem or challenge
  • The ability to come up with a solution or action plan
  • The ability to describe how their own actions benefitted the company

This is an opportunity for you to give a concrete example of your ability to take initiative, and use relevant problem-solving skills within a corporate environment.

An ideal answer will include hard data such as revenue generated or money saved as a result of your actions.

7. What are the most important things you are looking for in your next job?

There are many possible ways to respond to this question, but we recommend focusing on answers that are relevant specifically to the company and position you’re applying for.

Answers such as improving your skills, taking more initiative or assuming more responsibility can show recruiters that you are motivated by more than just a paycheque.

8. Why did you leave your last job?

This is one of the most common questions used to test a candidate’s character. It can be a tricky one to answer, but there are ways to turn it to your advantage. There can be many good reasons to be looking for a job, and even if you were let go from your previous position, there are ways to present this in a positive light.

For example, you can talk about wanting a more demanding role that will allow you to broaden your skill set. That makes a much better impression than complaining about being passed over for a promotion at your previous job.

9. What are your salary expectations?

This question is one of the signs that your interview is going well. Recruiters use it to ascertain whether your expectations are reasonable.

It’s important to prepare for this question by familiarizing yourself with the typical salary ranges for similar positions in your industry. Otherwise, you may ruin your chances even if you did everything else right!

10. Do you have any questions?

This will probably be the last question of the interview. Take this opportunity to find out whether the company is the right fit for you. You can inquire about important issues that haven’t been discussed yet, such as professional development, training, work-life balance and the possibility of working from home. This will give you a better idea of the working conditions and workload that you can expect if you are hired. You can also ask about the next steps of the recruitment process.

Be careful not to ask questions that could suggest a lack of motivation or interest in the company.

Finance interview questions

If you're looking for a job in finance, you can expect certain specific questions at your interview.

Why finance?

When answering the question "Why finance?", it's important to emphasize your passion for and interest in the sector. You can explain what attracts you to finance: is it analyzing numbers, making strategic decisions based on financial data, or the desire to contribute to a company's financial stability? Be sure to show that your choice of a career in finance is motivated by a genuine affinity for the field, as this will strengthen your application. 

How do you analyze financial data to make strategic decisions?

This question is focused on understanding your analytical approach. Describe how you process financial data to make strategic decisions. You can explain that you first collect and organize relevant data, then analyze it in depth to extract crucial information. Highlight the use of specific tools or methods, such as financial models or key ratios. Show that you are capable of transforming raw data into strategic insights to guide the company towards success, as this is what the employer wants to know about. <H3> How do you manage pressure and deadlines in a demanding financial environment?

Resilience and ability to work effectively under pressure are essential soft skills in finance that are in high demand. Explain that you are familiar with demanding financial environments and use methods such as careful planning, task prioritization and time management to meet deadlines. Also mention your ability to keep calm in stressful situations and find pragmatic solutions to cope with pressure.

What do you know about our financial situation?

To answer this question, you’ll need to have thoroughly researched the company before the interview! Now is the time to refer to specific facts such as the latest financial results, key performances, overall financial health and major projects or initiatives that are underway.

Show that you have a solid understanding of the company, its financial challenges and its market position. Explain how your financial expertise can help support and improve the company's financial situation. This is the perfect question to prove your added value, and good preparation will make all the difference in helping you stand out from the crowd.

Common accounting job interview questions

Are you looking for a job in accounting? The interview questions posed by the recruiter will be used primarily to find out more about your rigorous attention to detail and ability to make precise calculations, qualities that are essential in this sector. By cross-referencing your experience and skills, you'll be able to offer solid, convincing answers.

And if you're still wondering why you should choose a career in accounting, we've written an article about that too. 😊 

How do you deal with discrepancies and inconsistencies in accounting data?

When asked how to deal with discrepancies and inconsistencies in accounting data, you can respond by emphasizing that you use a methodical approach and effective problem-solving skills. Here's a sample answer:

"To deal with discrepancies and inconsistencies in accounting data, I begin by carrying out an in-depth analysis of financial documents and transactions. My aim is to understand the source of the problem. To do this, I check the source documents, consult with colleagues if necessary, and use automated reconciliation tools if available.

Once I've identified the source of the discrepancy, I work proactively to resolve the problem, whether by correcting accounting entries, updating documentation or contacting the parties concerned for further information. My approach is to ensure that accounting data is accurate and consistent, which is essential to ensure the integrity of our financial reporting." <H3> How do you ensure the integrity and accuracy of accounting data in your work?

This is the time to emphasize your attention to detail in data entry and verification, which are especially important skills when performing accounting tasks. Explain how you use accounting software to automate controls and minimize errors, citing your technical skills. Also, let the recruiter know that you keep up to date with the latest accounting standards to ensure compliance and accuracy.

How do you maintain accurate, up-to-date documentation of financial transactions?

Describe how you record each transaction, including essential details such as date, description, amount and associated supporting documents. Highlight the use of document management tools that facilitate document search and retrieval. Again, name any accounting software you use.

Accounting requires unparalleled precision, and your answer should reflect your commitment to correctly classifying all transactions in accordance with current accounting standards. By emphasizing your concern for accurate documentation, you demonstrate your ability to maintain a rigorous record of financial transactions.

Do you have experience with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)?

When answering a question like this, begin by outlining your relevant experience, including whether you've worked in companies that adhere to these standards and whether you've undergone specific training. Demonstrate your in-depth knowledge of these standards by explaining how you applied them in your previous positions - if you did, of course! Emphasize the importance of maintaining compliance with current international or U.S. accounting standards, highlighting your commitment to quality and accuracy in accounting. The aim is to demonstrate your expertise and ability to do work that meets specific requirements.

Give yourself the best chance of success with Fed Finance

Of course, the above list represents only some of the questions that you will likely need to answer during your accounting job interview. However, if you are ready to answer several common interview questions, you can feel more calm and confident, knowing that you have come prepared. To find out more about job opportunities in finance and accounting, contact our team. We will be happy to assist you with your job search.