8 Questions to ask during your accounting job interview

5 min read
Accounting job interview showing a young woman interviewed by older man

Congratulations! You've made it through the gauntlet of college courses and mastered debits and credits, and now you're ready to land your very first accounting job. But first, you have to get through the interview.

Interviewing for your first job can be nerve-wracking but remember: this is your moment to shine. You're not just presenting yourself as an ideal future employee. You're also asking questions to ensure the job is as good a fit for you as you are for it.

8 top accounting interview questions to ask

1. What does a typical day look like for someone in this position?

Imagine this: It's your first day at the new job, and you're ready to conquer the world. You're looking forward to developing client relationships, discussing tax strategy and cash flow management, and uncovering fraud. 

Your employer has other ideas. In fact, your main task is to digitize a decade's worth of accounting data. It should just take you about, oh, eternity. 

Asking about a typical day gives you a sneak peek into what your daily grind will be like and whether it’s the kind of work that will keep you engaged or snoozing at your desk by lunch.

2. How does the team handle peak times like month-end or tax season?

Deadlines often drive the accounting world. In a public accounting firm, tax season, which runs from mid-January through mid-April, can mean heavy workloads and long hours. Accountants in the private sector don't have to worry about tax season, but they might face tight deadlines around month-end and year-end financial reporting deadlines. 

Understanding how the team manages these crunch times can give you insight into the company’s expectations and work/life balance strategies. Long hours might not be a deal-breaker, but at least you'll know whether you'll still have time to enjoy your weekends or whether you should bid your social life goodbye for a few months.

3. What opportunities do you offer for professional development and advancement? 

Let’s be real: you don’t want to be in an entry-level role forever. Once you have a CPA license and some accounting experience, you want to take on a new role. Asking about growth opportunities in your accounting job interview shows you’re interested in sticking around and climbing up the ladder. 

It also helps you gauge whether you’ll be able to fulfill your career goals with this company or if you'll be better off with a company that's willing to invest in helping you develop the accounting skills you need to achieve career success.

4. Can you describe the company's culture?

Culture is the office equivalent of a family dinner. It can feel warm and welcoming or like a duty you need to get through. The right culture for you depends on your personality and work style. 

If you're extroverted, you might thrive in a collaborative and high-energy company where people get together socially outside of office hours. You might prefer to work independently if you're more introverted and serious. 

Understanding the culture can help you determine whether you’ll fit in or be the odd one who prefers using pivot tables in Excel while everyone else is team Google Sheets.

5. Does the company pay for or reimburse CPA Exam Review programs and exam fees?

Here’s where you get down to the nitty-gritty. As a budding accountant, you probably have your eye on the CPA title, but it can be a significant financial investment. Ask if the company pays for or reimburses CPA Exam Review courses and CPA Exam fees. While some might not cover the exam fees (looking at you, government agencies), they might pay for review courses, which can be a deal-maker.

6. What accounting technology and tools does the company use?

Technology is transforming the accounting profession. Many mundane, repetitive accounting processes are being automated, freeing accountants to focus on higher-level work like data analysis, evaluating a company's financial health, and improving cash flow. 

Asking about the accounting software and other technology tools you'll be working with can tell you whether the company is investing in preparing its accounting procedures for the future or lagging behind. Learning about the software or watching tutorial videos can also help you prepare ahead so you won’t have to fake your way through using an unfamiliar system during your first week.

7. How does the company evaluate success in this role?

This is a great question to ask during your accounting job interview to understand expectations that aren't included in the job description. Knowing how your manager measures performance can help you decide whether you have the combination of technical and soft skills to be a good fit for the position.

8. What are the next steps in the accounting job interview process?

This is your closing line, your mic drop moment. It shows interest and eagerness but also sets the stage for what to expect next. Will there be a second interview where you have to demonstrate your understanding of financial statements and revenue recognition? 

Or will the next call (hopefully) be a job offer? You'll also get a general idea of their schedule and whether you can expect to hear back within the week or might have to wait a little longer.

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