How to Prepare for Your Accounts Payable Interview Questions

By Robert Half on November 2, 2022 at 8:30am

If you're prepping for an interview for a job as an accounts payable clerk, you probably know to expect some common interview questions, such as, Can you tell me about yourself?" "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" or "Where do you see yourself in five years?"

Most likely, you're more worried about the role-specific accounts payable interview questions that will test your knowledge of verifying invoices, tracking purchase orders and processing payments.

What happens, though, if your interviewer throws in a wild card or two? Here are some tips and examples to help you make the most of any accounts payable interview questions that may come your way.

List the accounts payable interview questions

One tip is to ask a friend or family member to conduct a practice interview with you. Be sure you make a list that covers accounts payable clerk-specific questions that will test your research, problem-solving and computer skills. Your answers to questions like these will also give you a chance to demonstrate your knowledge of the job and how you'd approach it.

  • "Which accounting software do you have experience with?"
  • "Can you tell me about past invoice disputes and how you've resolved them?"
  • "Can you explain end-to-end process of accounts payable?"
  • "How would you balance accuracy and efficiency in this job?
  • "How do you approach working with ledgers?"
  • "What is a workflow for accounting?"
  • "What is consolidation?"
  • "What is interest on capital?"
  • "What is a non-PO invoice?"

Don't let salary questions throw you for a loop

Sometimes, the simple can be the toughest to answer. For example, a question about the accounts payable salary you seek could get you flustered if you haven't thought about the answer ahead of time. Before any interview, be sure to review the latest Salary Guide From Robert Half to get a sense of the compensation you can expect for an accounts payable clerk. You can even cite this source in your answer.

For example, the salary midpoint for an accounts payable clerk is expected to be $39,250, according to the 2022 Salary Guide. For an accounts receivable/accounts payable manager, the midpoint level is considered to be $65,000 for 2022. The Salary Guide allows you to fine-tune the listed salary ranges to the city nearest you.

Access the Salary Guide for the latest hiring trends, hottest jobs and salary insights in finance and accounting.

The real purpose behind unusual questions

Now take your interviewing skills to the next level by practicing replies to a few unusual questions. In a Robert Half survey, executives were asked to share the strangest questions they'd ever been asked during an interview. Here are just a few they cited:

  • "What would I find in your refrigerator?"
  • "What's the last book you read?"
  • "What animal are you most like?"

Why don't hiring managers just stick to standard questions when interviewing an accounts payable clerk? Because your answers to oddball questions may shed light on your personality, problem-solving skills and performance under pressure in ways that standard questions do not.

How to stay poised during your accounts payable interview

Preparation is the best defense. Unfortunately, you can't practice every possible question in advance. Rely on the following interview tips to ensure you don't become tongue-tied if you're asked a question that seems to come from out of the blue:

  • Keep your composure. Interviewers evaluate more than the content of your answers. They also note how you formulate responses to get a sense of your creativity and approach to problems. Remain calm, maintain eye contact and stay confident — just like you'll be on the job as an accounts payable clerk.
  • Ask for clarification. If you're stumped, it's OK to ask for clarification. Ask the interviewer to repeat or reword the question. Interviewers will respect your desire to give them what they are looking for in an answer.
  • Don't be a dodger. Don't dodge questions. You could be particularly tempted to do so if asked about a resume gap. If you stopped working as an accounts payable clerk so you could finish an MBA program early, say so. Be honest and factual, and get ready for the next question.
  • Make sense of it. Let's say an interviewer asks you, "What animal are you most like?" If you say "a cat," you might want to add "because I am curious and always land on my feet." Try to highlight skills you'll need as an accounts payable clerk at that particular company when answering questions such as these. In this example, curiosity and landing on your feet represent eagerness to try new things and dependability.
  • Take your time. The interviewer will expect you to take some time with an unusual question. A thoughtful answer is better than a rushed one. It's OK to say something like, "That's an interesting question. Let me think about it."
  • Ask questions. The employer isn't the only one who should ask good questions. Consider what questions you can ask in the interview, such as, What does it take for someone to be successful in this job? Can you tell me more about why you’re trying to fill this position? How would you describe your company culture?

Finally, remember that you may knock yourself out of consideration if you say you identify more with cats than dogs or reveal that you have only a chocolate bar and jar of mustard in your refrigerator. Actually, we're not sure about that! How about this: Be honest, be thoughtful and be yourself when faced with unexpected questions.

Skilled accounts payable clerks are in demand in cities across the United States. See our open accounts payable jobs.

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