How to Answer Accounts Payable Interview Questions
- April 27, 2021
- Posted by: sunaina rani
- Category: Uncategorized
A job as an accounts payable clerk can be a great career opportunity for someone interested in accounting. Your first interview is an important step in the pursuit of this possibility. Knowing some of the questions you will be asked ahead of time can help you make a good impression on your interviewer. In this article, we will look at commonly asked interview questions, along with example answers.
What does an accounts payable clerk do?
An accounts payable clerk has many duties as a part of their job. Your role as an accounts payable clerk is to verify and reconcile invoices for a company or organization. Your training would concern all aspects of invoice management from first receiving the invoices to processing the invoices. Some responsibilities you may have as an accounts payable clerk are:
- Verifying the accuracy of invoices
- Inputting the invoices into a computer system
- Paying company bills monthly, weekly or daily
- Maintaining a list of all the vendors a company uses for business
- Keeping record of what the company owes to the vendors and what vendors owe to the company
- Printing monthly financial statements
- Maintaining historical records by microfilming and filing documents
- Analyzing invoice and expense accounts
- Charging expenses to accounts
- Verifying vendor accounts
- Distributing cash from recorded entry
- Verifying documentation
- Reporting sales taxes on paid invoices
The interviewer may begin by asking general questions about your background, goals and experience. Use the STAR (situation, task, action, result) technique to make sure your answers include relevant examples. These questions let the interviewer get to know you a little better before getting into heavier topics.
- Are you willing to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) and undergo a background check?
- What is your educational background?
- What is your preferred work environment?
- What would you be able to contribute to our team?
- How did you become interested in finance?
Soft skills questions
A hiring manager who is interviewing you may ask about certain skills that will affect how you function in the workplace, including:
- Are you able to multi-task?
- How do you function in a fast-paced environment?
- Can you handle confidential information in a professional manner?
- Are you able to consistently meet deadlines?
- Are you a team player?
- Would you be looking to advance to a different position in the company?
Hard skill questions
In addition to the soft skills of how you work in an office environment, a hiring manager will want to know about your practical skills as an accounts payable clerk. Some questions the hiring manager might ask include:
- How are your communication skills?
- Are you proficient with office software such as Microsoft Word and Excel?
- What practical experience do you have in the accounting industry?
- Have you worked with finances before?
- What kind of accounting training have you had?
Naturally, a hiring manager will ask you questions directly related to your job as an accounts payable clerk. While you will not know the exact questions the hiring manager will ask, there are numerous sites on the internet that have examples of accounts payable clerk interview questions. Some questions that you may encounter during the interview are:
- What is a workflow for accounting?
- Can you explain the process of invoicing a vendor at the end of the month?
- What is capital and how do you account for interest on capital in a ledger?
- Describe consolidation to me
These and other job-specific questions are standard elements of an accounts payable interview.
Sample interview questions
Here are some more sample interview questions, including example answers:
- How are you at prioritizing multiple tasks during the day?
- Our company handles multiple accounts. Can you explain how you approach working with ledgers?
- We have tight deadlines. What is your experience meeting deadlines in a fast-paced environment?
- Do you work well with other people?
- What is your greatest professional success, and what is your greatest failure? What, if anything did you learn from your successes and failures?
- Why do you want to work for us as an accounts payable clerk? What do you find interesting about our company?
1. How are you at prioritizing multiple tasks during the day?
This question gives you an opportunity to communicate your flexibility during a workday with examples of occasions where you met deadlines for multiple tasks concurrently. Multi-tasking is a part of having good time management, a relevant skill in this industry. Be sure to share any examples you have of times you had to manage a busy schedule or when you had to coordinate your schedule with other employees.
Example: “At my previous job, I reported to three different financial officers on a regular basis. I had to keep records, deliver reports and arrange meetings with all three of them without sacrificing the quality of any of my work. I made sure to maintain an extremely detailed personal schedule to make sure that I never forgot a meeting or missed a deadline. Because of my schedule, I was able to complete tasks on time while keeping a level head in a hectic office.”
2. Our company handles multiple accounts. Can you explain how you approach working with ledgers?
Give specific examples of how you are accurate with multiple accounts. Accuracy and integrity are important elements of being a successful accounts payable clerk. Share your commitment to always keeping accurate and reliable records, even when you handle multiple books. Talk about your experience if you have had only managed one account, highlighting that you are interested in bigger challenges.
Example: “At my first job at an accounting firm, I was responsible for two separate client accounts. I had to file invoices, record transactions and mail about bills for each account regularly. I color-coded all the related tasks both on paper and in my digital calendar. I also kept separate filing locations and made sure to file all my paperwork quickly and correctly. I was able to maintain both accounts for eighteen months without any significant issues.”
3. We have tight deadlines. What is your experience meeting deadlines in a fast-paced environment?
Interviewers ask this question to discover how you will function in this job’s specific work environment. Answer this question with examples of how you have met deadlines, and the consequences that followed after you met those deadlines, such as vendor loyalty, increased deliverables and high rates of client satisfaction.
Example: “I have been meeting deadlines in the workplace ever since I graduated college. My last position was in an extremely fast-paced environment. I worked for several levels of management who all needed results at different times. I managed my time and conserved my energy by setting achievable and productive daily goals for myself. I scheduled my tasks by priority and made sure to always allocate enough time to finishing each one. After I became accustomed to the environment, I was able to complete assignments efficiently and on time.”
4. Do you work well with other people?
Working with other people is important if you are an account payable clerk because you will be frequently interacting with coworkers and vendors. This question allows you to promote your communication and collaboration skills. Answer that you work well in a team environment and give examples of times you coordinated with a group on a project.
Example: “I am very comfortable working as a part of a team. I have always considered myself to be a social person, and I aim to use my skills to benefit my team and my entire workplace. In the past, I have had to collaborate with coworkers in order for us to both meet our deadlines on time. I try to utilize my team members’ skills whenever possible, and I am always willing to offer my help if it will benefit the team.”
5. What is your greatest professional success, and what is your greatest failure? What, if anything did you learn from your successes and failures?
These questions are intimidating but not anything to fear. They are behavioral questions designed to understand if you would fit in with what the company needs as an employee. Answer these questions honestly, even the tough ones about failures or mistakes that have happened in your career. Hiring managers are seeking people who are emotionally mature, honest and able to work on teams but not necessarily perfect.
Example: “My greatest professional success was receiving a promotion at my last job. After two years of working as an administrative assistant, I was able to finish my degree and transition into the accounts payable role. The promotion was a lesson in what years of hard work and determination can help you achieve.
My greatest failure was when I lost track of a vendor’s records and they chose to take their business elsewhere as a result. I was embarrassed and disappointed in myself, but my supervisor encouraged me to take the situation as a lesson in the importance of taking my job seriously and completing all my tasks efficiently.”
6. Why do you want to work for us as an accounts payable clerk? What do you find interesting about our company?
One of the best things you can do before an interview is research the company. Learn about the specific industry of the company, its history, its place in the economic market, the name of the CEO and any outreach it has to the community. Know the name, if you can, of the hiring manager or the person who will conduct the interview. Be prepared to show that your skills, education and experience are relevant to the company and its goals.
Example: “I am looking to work for a company that has a mission statement I can support. I am impressed by this company’s commitment to excellence and customer service. I believe my skills and experience would make me a valuable addition to your team. I also think my personality and professional goals would be a good fit for the work environment.”
Other subjects you may discuss with the hiring manager include the schedule, potential benefits and salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2013 average annual salary for accounts payable clerks was approximately $35,700.
Research the salary range and employee benefits common in your area, including the cost of living before the interview. Your seniority matters too in salary talks. A fresh out of college graduate is less likely to be able to request the same salary as an accounts payable clerk with years of experience.
Preparation is the most important contributor to a successful job interview. Take the time to practice your answers, familiarize yourself with the position and decide on questions you want to ask the interviewer. Use the suggestions in this article, along with other resources, to make sure you can handle the interview confidently and competently. The more you prepare, the more likely you will be to leave a lasting impression on the interviewer.