What are interview questions for accounting

Job interview in accounting: How to convince the HR manager

This post gives you valuable tips for your job interview in accounting. Image by © Natee Meepian - de.fotolia.com

Are you about to have an interview in the accounting department?

Then you are sure to ask yourself what to expect in the conversation.

With the information from this article, you will prepare yourself optimally for the job interview in accounting and convince the recruiter with innovative answers to his / her questions!

In the article you will learn everything you need to know about the topic. First, you will get an overview of the tasks and requirements of an accountant. In this way you are well prepared for the requirements of the job. In order to fully convince the HR manager, find out more about the most common questions that are asked during the interview. In this way, you can shine with optimal answers in the recruitment interview. Learn what salary you can expect in a job and which questions from the HR manager you do not have to answer. General information on what is important in the application phase rounds off your new knowledge.

The bookkeeping - anything but a monotonous job

Most people think of accounting as a very dry subject. However, the activities of accountants can be very varied and differentiated! As an accountant, you process a wide variety of business transactions and post them according to accounting principles and commercial law.

  • Good to know: In particular, the accounting work in medium-sized and large companies is characterized by a great deal of variety.

Payroll vs. financial accounting

The number of accountants' tasks increases with the size of the company. A general distinction is made between payroll and financial accounting.

In wage accounting, it is primarily about correctly accounting the salaries and wages of employees. The responsibilities of the wage accountants include, for example, all social benefits such as pension insurance, unemployment insurance and health insurance contributions. The settlement of one-off payments such as expenses or vacation pay also falls into this area.

Financial bookkeeping as an external area of ​​accounting

As an employee in finance, you document all number-based processes. Thus, for example, invoice checking and issuing also fall into your area of ​​responsibility. In a large company, this accounting sector is also divided into accounts payable and accounts receivable: while accounts receivable checks and processes all outgoing invoices, accounts payable deals with incoming invoices in the company.

Other duties of the bookkeeper

In addition to the areas of responsibility already explained, the accounting department of a company takes care of the company buildings, machines and other material goods. As an accountant, it is your job to manage and write off these goods in what is known as asset accounting.

You have an advisory role to the management:

Once you have mastered the job interview in accounting and got a job, you not only process various business transactions, but also pass on reliable figures to company management. In this regard, the area - at least in large companies - must be distinguished from controlling. In contrast to controlling, your focus is not on cost optimization, but on the pure documentation of business transactions.

How do you actually become a bookkeeper?

The classic entry into bookkeeping is achieved through a commercial apprenticeship. However, there is no direct training to become an accountant in Germany. Rather, after completing your commercial training, you will continue to train to become an accountant. Alternatively, you can find your way into accounting through a degree in business administration.

  • Practical tip for those interested: Anyone who is thinking about gaining a foothold in accounting at a company after completing an apprenticeship or studying should gain relevant practical experience as early as the qualification phase. In an internship or through work in other relevant areas, you will find out whether accounting tasks correspond to your own preferences.

A job with a perspective

The starting salary in an accounting department is usually between 30,000 and 45,000 euros. If you train to become an accountant, you can expect a jump in salary. This fact is due to the fact that accountants often assume the leading position in their department. Since Germany is one of the countries with the most complex tax law, the future prospects for accountants are very good anyway.

  • Note: Not only companies, but also associations, clubs and interest groups have accounting departments. As an accountant, you can also work in such institutions.

Job interview in accounting - this is what awaits you

The purpose of the interview is to find out whether you are a good fit for the company or another employer. For this purpose, the HR manager would like to get to know you and evaluate both your professional and personal suitability.

This possibility of assessment is limited due to the relatively short conversation time. In order to be able to get as precise a picture of yourself as possible, the recruiter will ask you some general and subject-specific questions. Among other things, these questions should provide information about your motivation and previous experience.

Getting started with general questions

In particular, the HR managers in large companies have a standard procedure with regard to the job interview in the accounting department. So the person you are talking to will probably first of all ask you to tell something about yourself.

Don't lose the thread at this point.

In advance of the interview, lay down a few aspects that you can discuss in an introductory manner. For example, you can provide information about your hobbies and explain how you work. You can also highlight some of your strengths. Remember that the descriptions should reveal something about your determination and your motivation.

  • Note: By preparing for such open questions, you will convince in the interview with a confident appearance.

The course of your life

After the introduction to the interview, many recruiters ask the applicant to explain his / her résumé. You have to know your CV by heart in order to be able to explain the individual stages of life objectively and professionally. If possible, relate the individual phases of your life to the desired position. If you graduated from a business high school, you can say, for example, that you were interested in economic and accounting topics at a young age.

Loosening up is evidence of initiative.

If you feel comfortable in the job interview in the accounting department and if it goes well, you can also tell one or two anecdotes while “working through” your résumé.

Nobody is perfect

Another question that almost all HR managers ask: "Where do you see your strengths and weaknesses?"

At this point it is important to focus on your strengths. However, this does not mean that you should tend to arrogant statements such as "I have no weaknesses". After all, no entrepreneur wants such an arrogant bookkeeper!

The magic word is authenticity.

Before the interview, think about which strengths and weaknesses you want to list. The emphasis here is on a weakness. After you have explained your strengths that are relevant to the job with the help of examples, you can say, for example, that you quickly become impatient when things don't arrive at your desk on time. Add that this also applies if important files do not leave your desk early. In this way, you convey that you attach great importance to meeting deadlines - for yourself and others alike.

  • Important: As can be seen from the example, the weakness explained in the interview should be one that can also be interpreted positively. However, your information must absolutely correspond to the truth! Wrong statements are noticed at the latest when you work in the company

"Where do you see yourself in a few years?"

Read the job posting carefully! In this way you avoid inadequate answers to the question of how you imagine the future of your career with the employer. If the position is a secure one, but one with little chance of advancement, it is not appropriate to see yourself at the top of the career ladder after a few years.

Of course, this is not to say that you should pile into the interview. Rather, it is about showing that you are not only striving for easy money, but are also willing to develop yourself further.

What does “develop broadly” mean?

This term is understood to mean the willingness (of an employee) to attend training courses and other events that are not designed for a rise in the corporate ladder. Such measures allow you to specialize in your field, for example. Such specializations can also be accompanied by an increased income.

"What do you intend to earn?"

If the recruiter asks you about your salary expectations, it is imperative that you provide realistic information. If you are conducting an interview in accounting for the first time, this calculation is a bit difficult because you have no experience in the industry. Find out in advance what an average bookkeeper earns from your experience. The internet is a good source for this.

  • tip: When changing jobs, you have a little more leeway. You can ask for up to ten percent more than you earned in your old job. How much you try to get out should depend, among other things, on the size of the business.

Justify your salary expectations.

Listing your financial obligations is a no-go for an accounting job interview! Instead, you should justify your salary expectations with your qualifications. In addition, you can cite the benefits of the company from yourself as a legitimation for your claims.

  • Good to know: You do not have to provide any fixed information for your salary expectations. You also have the option of specifying a salary range. In this way, the boss can react flexibly and, for example, offer you additional benefits as compensation for unfulfilled salary requests.

"Why this company?"

To find out how interested you are in the job, the HR manager will probably ask Why You want to work in the company.

Answer by explaining why this position is the perfect one for you. Also explain how the job can help you achieve your professional goals. From your answers, the HR manager will determine how long-term you envision the job.

  • Practical tip: Prepare yourself well for this question. You can do this by scouring not only the company website, but also social media, review portals and other sources for information.

Be realistic!

A question that is often asked at the end of a job interview in accounting: “Why should we choose you?”.

Under no circumstances should you respond with statements such as "because I am the best applicant". Instead, stay factual and argue with your professional qualifications. Also, explain how you will make the company more successful.

Good to know:

The question explained above is often supplemented by the question of how you differ from other applicants. Here, too, you should definitely remain factual and argumentative. Do not speculate about other applicants and explain what speaks for you as an accountant.

  • Let an introduction precede your presentation. This can be as follows: "Only you can judge to what extent the other applicants are suitable for the position".

You don't have to reveal everything

As an applicant for a job, you tend to tell everything the HR manager wants to know in an interview. If the person you are talking to asks one of the following questions, you are not obliged to answer. On the contrary: A serious entrepreneur will not even ask about these aspects:

  • Your family planning
  • Your religious views
  • Your affiliation to a political direction.

If, contrary to expectations, the HR manager asks such questions, you can kindly point out that you do not want to answer them. If you do not mind the mentioned topic, you can of course also go into it.

Questions that target your expertise

In addition to the general topics listed, the interview in the accounting department will also deal with area-specific questions. After all, the job requires extensive technical competence to deal with invoices, transactions and deliveries.

In order to get an impression of your IT knowledge, your commercial know-how and other skills, the recruiter can ask the following technical questions.

  • What steps do you take before approving an invoice?
  • What do you do if you discover irregularities in the accounting?
  • Please describe what accounts payable processes are.
  • Which accounting software have you worked with so far? Where do you see their advantages and disadvantages?

In order to go even deeper into the subject, the HR manager can also ask these questions:

  • Do you already have experience developing business metrics?
  • Can you explain the difference between accounts payable and accounts receivable?
  • You should estimate bad debts. How do you go about here?
  • Can you tell me three types of financial publications?
  • Assuming a company has three bank accounts to process payments, what is the minimum number of general ledger accounts?
  • How would you invest two million euros in a private profitable company?

Important soft skills for the job interview in accounting

An accountant not only has to be good at numbers and reliable.

In addition to a high level of reliability and a feeling for numbers, good self-organization plays a major role in your job as an accountant. The job also places high demands on your personality. In order to convince the HR manager of yourself, you should act humanely in the job interview in the accounting department:

Explain to your counterpart how you resolve conflicts and how you deal with difficult situations. Whenever possible, always give examples. You can also use them to reinforce your ability to work in a team and your resistance to stress. These factors are other important soft skills for an accountant.

  • tip: The activity as an accountant is dynamic. In other words: New accounting programs and other "instruments" come onto the market on a regular basis. In order to be successful as an accountant in the long term, you need to deal with these and other new processes.

These questions aim to provide information about the way you work:

  • Have you worked with teams and departments other than your own?
  • What do you do to compensate for above-average workloads?
  • How do you set your priorities?
  • What steps do you take to ensure the accuracy of your work?
  • What has been the most important decision that you have made as an accountant so far?

Job interview in accounting - be one step ahead of the competition!

The job interview is about presenting yourself as a specialist in your field. You will convince them of yourself with competent answers to the specific questions of the HR manager. Give the person responsible an impression of the way you work by including as many practical examples as possible in your answers.

As a bookkeeper, you not only have to be analytical and methodical, but also socially competent. Shine in the interview with a friendly, serious appearance. If the interlocutor asks you inappropriate questions (see above), it is important to keep a cool head.

With the information from this article, you will master the job interview in accounting with ease! Prepare well for the application phase to stay one step ahead of the competition. Nothing stands in the way of your employment as an accountant!