Sample accountant job description and interview questions

Are you looking to hire and need the perfect accountant job description to bring in top talent? Hiring is a lengthy and costly process so it’s best to get it right the first time — and that means bringing the best applicants into the interview process. This job description template will help you understand the role of an accountant and what to look for in potential candidates.

In this BusinessManagementDaily.com article, we cover:

  • Accountant job description.
  • Qualifications and skills an accountant should have.
  • Interview questions to ask.

So, before you hire an accountant for your business, read all about accountant duties to help you make the right decision.

Accountant job description

Position:

Pepperdine University names these 10 different types of accountants that work with the same generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP):

  • Staff accountant
  • Certified public accountant
  • Investment accountant
  • Project accountants
  • Cost accountant
  • Management accountant
  • Forensic accountant
  • Auditor
  • Financial advisor
  • Financial consultant/financial accounting
  • Receivable accountant

Salary Range: It’s a good idea to include a salary range for your position to avoid having applicants that might later reject an offer. Accountants’ pay ranges from $54,000-$136,000 while the average pay for an accountant is $71,956 according to Best Master’s Programs. Master’s degree accounting professionals typically make $100k+ per year.

Reports To: Who will the accountant report to in your company?

Job Description

This position helps our company determine the cost of operations by collecting, analyzing, and reporting cost data. You will have to be able to classify labor, material, and overhead costs to compute unit costs of products and services and record cost data for use by management in controlling expenditures. A key duty will be to establish and enforce cost accounting policies and procedures, incorporating trends, forecasts, and recommendations.

Determines cost of operations by collecting, analyzing, and reporting cost data. Classifies labor, material, and overhead costs to compute unit costs of products and services, and records cost data for use by management in controlling expenditures.

Other responsibilities of a certified public accountant (CPA) include:

  • Managing financial transactions/financial data/general financial management
  • Bookkeeping of financial information/financial statements
  • Creating financial reports and balance sheets
  • Auditing/Internal auditor
  • Keeping a general ledger
  • Managing cash flow
  • Managing tax returns
  • Budgets and other financial documents
  • Loss statements
  • Data entry
  • Processing of accounts payable
  • Addressing discrepancies

Qualifications & skills

You must have strong communications and interpersonal skills so you can prepare and update cost estimates as required by various departments. Plus a proficiency with computers as required, including spreadsheet and graphics software applications (e.g., Lotus, Excel, PowerPoint) and securing information by completing database backups. You’ll also need to be able to analyze new product cost estimates, recommending cost-effective plans and designs.

  • Bachelor’s degree in Accounting or Finance and four or more years’ cost accounting experience with knowledge of cost accounting standards.
  • Proficiency with spreadsheets, accounting software/accounting systems, and graphics software applications (e.g., Lotus, Quickbooks, Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint) a must.
  • Excellent numerical analytical skills
  • Punctual communication skills
  • Accurate problem-solving skills

Accountant responsibilities and duties

Below are approximations of the amount of time you’ll spend carrying out key functions of the position.

Percentage of Job Duty
______ %

Recommends systems and procedures applicable to the cost accounting function.

______ %

Prepares and updates cost estimates as required by various departments.

______ %

Responsible for new product cost estimates, recommending cost-effective plans and designs.

______ %

Performs and directs special projects as required.

______ %

Establishes and enforces cost accounting policies and procedures, incorporating trends, forecasts, and recommendations.

______ %

Secures information by completing database backups and maintaining the confidentiality of all financial records.

Education/Background

Typically, an accountant position requires a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting or Finance and four or more years’ cost accounting experience with knowledge of cost accounting standards.

How many years of experience are needed to be an accountant? 4 years of college is mandatory, and any additional real-world experience in the related field is highly recommended.

Accountant interview questions

Once you bring in great candidates, consider some interview questions for achieving the best results for hiring an accountant. These questions will help you distill the traits or qualities you want out of your accountant using the answers given. Use a 1-5 rating system to grade the applicant’s answers.

You may also require a cover letter from applicants. Here are a few interview questions to consider:

  • Tell me about the most expensive fiscal mistake you ever made. What did you do to remedy it?

  • A cost accountant must work with a variety of managers, some good, some bad. Tell me about the worst manager you ever worked with.

  • What made this manager so bad? What steps did you take to resolve the situation?

  • What do you do when a cost accounting procedure has to be changed and no procedure exists to change it?

  • A cost accountant must make unpopular decisions at times. Tell me about one of yours.

  • Have you ever faced a situation when a manager was being less than direct with you when you were attempting to forecast department expenses? How did you handle it?

  • Tell me about a time when a good cost accounting decision on your part averted a sticky situation.

  • Tell me why you think you have the horsepower to handle this position.

  • Evaluate: You want a confident and fairly aggressive individual for dealing with costs in today’s competitive business climate. A number cruncher won’t do.

  • How do you keep abreast of all the changes in the cost accounting field?

  • What do you think will be the biggest changes over the next few years?

  • Do you tend to anticipate problems or do you react to what develops? Give me some examples.

  • What makes you stand out among your peers?

  • What if we hired you and I told you that you could take a course to improve any cost accounting skill you wanted? What would you study?

Wrapping up interview questions

Human resources: feel free to add additional questions to the list that may be specific to your operation.

Write an overall impression of the applicant, and give them an average rating of 1-5 for further comparison with other applicants.

You can also give upper management three recommendation choices:

  • Hire
  • Do not hire
  • Second interview

Follow the above formula for successfully hiring candidates for the accountant position. Don’t forget to spread wide when putting out job postings — the more online platforms you use for hiring, the better the candidates you’ll get. We hope this helps you hire the perfect accountant.