FREE TRIAL Account Shopping Cart

Interview Questions for Accountant Competencies

Competency Based Interviewing Checklist

Before we run through the competency interview questions, let’s quickly review what competency based interviewing is and whether you need support in delivering this technique.

 This method is hardly new but remains the most highly rated interview technique in structuring interviews to get consistent results and is based on the premise that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.

 The core element is to insist that candidates provide you with specific examples of actual experiences and to avoid hypothetical scenarios and generalisations at all costs.

If you are not trained in Competency or Behavioural Interview Techniques, we strongly recommend that you bring someone who is onto your recruitment panel until you get trained and comfortable.

 1. Technical & Ethical

The skills and abilities to perform activities consistently to a defined standard”


  • Tell me about a time when your professional integrity as an accountant was tested by a client or colleague.
    • How did you react to the situation?
    • How did you explain the risk to the client or colleague?
    • What did you learn from the experience?


  • How do you keep up to date with accounting technical knowledge?
    • Describe your most recent improvement in technical knowledge

Interviewing people on how good they are technically is never as good as asking them to prove their technical competence.  Take a look at for a suite of accounting technical tests to add to your selection process

 2. Intelligence

“The ability to acquire and use knowledge: thinking, reasoning and solving problems”.

  •  When you and your peers work on difficult problems, where do you usually come in the order of getting it?
  • Have you ever worked for a boss who was not intellectually strong? How did you handle the situation?  What challenges did you face?
  • What has been one of the most difficult concepts or initiatives you have had to develop, sell and then implement? Why?
  • What is the toughest, purely intellectual problem that you have solved?

 3. Creativity

“The ability to use existing knowledge in a new situation, to make connections, explore potential outcomes, and generate new ideas”


  • Describe an idea that you came up with that has been successful.
  • How do you test whether a new idea has merit?
    • Tell me about a time when you used this approach
  • Describe a time when you challenged the ideas of others and this led to something new.
  • Tell me about a new work process you came up with to solve an old problem.

 4. Digitally Savvy

“Awareness and application of existing and emerging digital technologies, capabilities, practices, strategies and culture”

  •  Using examples from inside or outside of work, describe what you see as the most cutting edge technologies that you use to your benefit every week
  • Do you see your career threatened by technological advances?
    • What do you intend to do to turn those threats into opportunities?
  • What emerging technologies do you think will have the greatest impact on the accounting industry?

 5. Emotional Intelligence

“Ability to identify your own emotions and those of others, harness and apply them to tasks, and regulate and manage them”

  •  When someone has information that they are nervous about sharing with you, what do you do to ensure you get the full picture?
  • Describe a time when you needed the input of an extremely busy senior manager.  How did you approach the situation?
  • Describe a time you needed to deliver bad news to someone more senior than you.
  • Internal and external customer focus is critical in this role. Give an example of a time when your internal and external customers were in conflict with the outcome you were trying to provide.

 6. Vision

“The ability to predict future trends accurately by extrapolating existing trends and facts and filling the gaps by thinking innovatively”.

  • What would describe as your most innovative achievement?
  • Tell me about a time when you took a good idea from beginning to end.

 7. Experience

“The ability and skills to understand customer expectations, meet desired outcomes and create value”

Tell me about a situation where the lack of focus around the customer lost you the business.

What follow up action did you take?

  • What has been one of the most difficult problems you have handled?
    • How did you solve it?
  • Tell me about a time when you found that a work problem was more than it appeared to be at first.
    • How did you solve it?

Comments 0

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published