Sample accountant job description and interview questions
Accountants are a key position for many businesses. They ensure the finances are on track and maintain compliance with any necessary regulations. Larger businesses may have a team of accountants, while smaller businesses may have someone working only part-time. Regardless, it’s important to get the right person in the position.
If you’re looking to hire an in-house accountant for your business, explore this accountant job description template to find out what job duties and qualifications to list on the job posting. We’ve also provided some interview questions to help you prepare to screen accountant candidates.
What is an Accountant?
Accountants are professionals that oversee the financial activities of the business. They review, track, and prepare financial data and reports as needed. They use this data to prepare revenue and budget forecasts and make recommendations on spending and cost reduction.
One thing to keep in mind while hiring an accountant is that there are a number of accounting specialties.
Here are some Accountant job titles or specialties that you may see on applications:
Financial accounting professionals track the money coming into and going out of the business.
Internal auditors focus on auditing activities.
Bookkeepers record transitions and maintain financial records.
Managerial accountants help businesses make informed decisions by analyzing financial data, creating forecasts, and identifying financial trends.
Tax accountants focus on individual or business tax filings, payments, and planning.
Small and medium-sized businesses generally will want to hire an in-house accountant that is a generalist or has knowledge and work experience in a wide array of accounting activities.
Accountant Job Description Template
The Accountant will be responsible for reviewing financial statements, managing accounts payable and receivable, preparing tax returns, and reconciling the general ledger. The ideal candidate will exhibit strong analytical thinking skills, attention to detail, and excellent teamwork.
Reconcile the company’s financial statements and bookkeeping ledgers.
Establish and enforce accounting policies and procedures, incorporating trends, forecasts, and recommendations.
Analyze new product cost estimates and recommend cost-effective plans and designs.
Prepare, file, and remite tax returns and payments.
Audit financial records and address any discrepancies.
Prepare budget forecasts for the company, departments, and projects.
Reconcile accounts payable and receivable on an ongoing basis.
Manage company balance sheets and profit/loss statements.
Review and audit financial transactions.
Handle company data in a confidential and secure manner.
2-3 years of experience in accounting.
Proficiency with computer applications, including Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and accounting software (QuickBooks, SAP, Xero, etc).
Ability to analyze new product cost estimates, recommending cost-effective plans and designs.
Knowledge of the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).
Bachelor’s degree in Accounting or Finance or a related field. Master’s degree preferred.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license preferred.
Accountant interview questions
Here are some helpful questions to ask when interviewing candidates for an Accountant role.
What accounting software programs have you worked with?
Accounting is a highly technical field where candidates will need to have strong computer skills. To better understand their technical abilities, it can help to inquire about their past experience using accounting software tools. Some employers give preference to candidates with experience using the accounting software that the current business uses. If your business doesn’t have accounting software in place, it will be even more important to choose a candidate that is knowledgeable and experienced with accounting software so they can help decide on a system and set it up.
Accountants also tend to do a lot of work with spreadsheets, including using advanced Excel functions like VLOOKUP. This is another area of the candidates’ technical skills that you may want to inquire about.
How do you balance major deadlines or projects with your regular ongoing tasks?
Accountants often have periods of time where their work is greatly increased due to upcoming tax deadlines or other special projects. This question helps you understand how they approach those busy periods and how they balance their workload so that major deadlines can be met without neglecting standard ongoing activities.
Some things to listen for include how far in advance they plan for quarterly and annual tax filings, what their organizational system is for managing deadlines and projects, how they work under pressure, and their willingness to put in extra hours when necessary. Accountants often do put in overtime or extra hours during key times if there is a tax deadline, an important project, or a shareholders meeting coming up that documents need to be prepared for. Ideally, the Accountant will plan ahead as much as they can and work efficiently so that they aren’t burning themselves out with long workdays every time something important is due.
Please provide an example of how you reduced operational costs in a prior role.
Accountants spend a lot of time looking over financial reports, budgets, expense reports, and invoices. As such, they can often identify spending trends or opportunities to cut costs that others within the company may overlook. You want to hire an Accountant that is able to analyze the reports and data that they review and come up with meaningful suggestions to help the company. Right now, it is easy for costs to get out of hand with inflation, so it helps to have someone on your team that will continuously be looking out for ways to save the company money.
How do you review your work for accuracy?
When preparing important financial records or filings such as tax filings or reports that will be shared with board members of shareholders, it’s important to double and triple-check your work. This question can help you understand what the candidate’s system is for reviewing their work and ensuring the accuracy of everything they submit. They may explain personal attributes such as being detail-oriented or specific cross-checking or review systems that they use to verify their work before sharing it.
How do you keep your accounting skills and knowledge updated?
Candidates that proactively work to keep themselves updated on changes in industry regulations, technology, and accounting best practices will generally perform better. They will have more up-to-date knowledge on compliance matters and continuously build new skills through continuing education opportunities.
Staying up-to-date through continuing education, industry publications, professional groups, or other methods also generally demonstrates that they have greater enthusiasm for the accounting field. This often will translate to more enthusiasm and motivation in regard to the role at your company if hired.