Another entry-level position in big corporations, Accounts Receivable Clerk is a popular job title. You do not need any special accounting or financial analysis skills to handle this job, and therefor you won’t get any sophisticated technical questions in your interview.
What is more, big corporations have excellent training programs for new hires, and you will learn how to handle your duties in no time, before starting the actual job.
But in many corporations you may have to pass an accounting test, consisting of about 40 multiple-choice questions, testing your basic accounting skills. If the hiring managers notified you about the test, I suggest you to practice for it in advance with a test kit for accounts receivable job applicants.
It’s a paid product, but the little you pay for two full-length accounts receivable tests, two full-length general accounting tests, and some additional interview preparation materials is well worth considering that you won’t get the job without passing the tests…
Personal and situational questions for accounts receivable clerk
If there’s no test, however, you will deal mostly with personal and situational questions in your interview. They will inquire about your goals and motivation, why you want to work for them.
And they will outline various situations that occur daily in a big corporation (conflict with another employee, meeting tight deadline, etc), and ask you how you’d approach the situation. In this article I will show you how to answer most of the questions. Enjoy!
Why do you want to work as an Accounts Receivable Clerk?
Certainly you do not want to have this position for years on end–and interviewers are aware of it. The job is rather monotonous, and unless you see the bigger picture and understand how this job will open you doors that lead to other, more interesting working opportunities, you will easily lose your motivation.
Tell them about your career goals, what you want to do in two, five or ten years. Accounts Receivable position is a good start for your career in accounting, or business administration.
You can add that you do not make mistakes in work, and believe you will do a good job as a clerk.
Why do you want to work for us, and not one of our competitors? All companies in the city are hiring new clerks for entry-level accounting jobs.
Do some research to find a perfect answer to this question. Check the website of the company, and their social media profiles. Try to learn more about what they do, their working culture, their training program, and what other people (especially former employees) think about them.
Try to find something that sounds great, something you can mention as a reason for your preferences. It can be their excellent reputation, famed team building events, endless career growth opportunities, the quality of services they offer to their final customers, or an interesting package of benefits for new hires.
It can be anything that caught your eye on their job description, website, or FB page. The key is to make them believe that they are your first choice, and that you did not apply with ten other companies for the same job, and simply try your luck in the interview with them (even if true).
Tell us something about your education and experience.
Refer to things that relate to the job. The courses from accounting and IT (MS Word, MS Excel) you had at school, or any other subjects that will help you in your work with invoices, accounts, and clients’ representatives.
This is an entry level position, and no previous experience is required. But if you had some jobs before, you could mention duties that helped you to get ready for your new role–that means any clerical, administrative, or accounting duties.
If you apply for your first job, you can simply say that you are a quick learner, understand the job description, and are sure that after initial training you will be able to handle the job to the satisfaction of your employer.
This job is quite repetitive. How do you plan to motivate yourself in work?
First and foremost, try to speak with enthusiasm in your voice (when answering any question). They shouldn’t get the impression that you apply with them just because you need money, and that you see nothing good about the job.
You can say that you are a team player, and look forward to meet new people in work. You do not want to let them down, and so you always try your best in work, so the entire team can excel.
Alternatively you can refer to your goals (in both personal and professional life), and say that you understand the importance this job plays in your professional career (and in everything you want to achieve in the future). Keeping bigger picture always on your mind helps you to see meaning in seemingly meaningless and repetitive duties…
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Which accounting software applications are you familiar with?
You have probably worked with one or two applications at school–perhaps something basic. No need to be ashamed of it though. Tell the truth, and add that you are a quick learner, and confident that you will learn to work with the software they use in the company.
At the end of the day, the user interface is similar in most accounting applications. And the company may even use their own, custom-designed software.
You will respond for a limited number of tasks. In my experience, even someone who has never worked with accounting software will learn how to do all the operations Accounts Receivable Clerks typically respond for, in less than a day.
Describe a time you found a billing discrepancy. How did you address it?
Refer to any mistake you found in the payment, or on the invoice. It can be missing VAT number, wrong date of issue, or it can be a wrong sum of money you received, or a delayed payment.
Show the interviewers that you are aware of the common mistakes, and that you will patiently try to resolve each one with the customer. The right course of action is double checking the discrepancy, finding the responsible person in customer’s company, and contacting them, trying to address the issue with them.
What is your role in the collections process?
You won’t be responsible for debt recovery. But you will often be the first point of contact with debtors. In many corporations Account Receivable Clerks respond for sending friendly reminders to customers who forgot to pay, or they respond even for the second step–making a friendly phone call, asking the customer to pay the debt immediately.
If that doesn’t work, however, you will advance the issue to someone who specializes in debt recollection (can be your colleague, but also an external company).
The key is to show that you are not afraid to call someone, and to ask them to pay an invoice.
Special Tip no. 2: Download a full list of questions in a one-page long PDF document, print it, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
Describe a time when you had to deal with an angry or upset client/customer.
Once you deal with money, and with people who should pay the money, you will necessarily experience some unpleasant conversations.
Some people may not like the payment schedule, may not agree with the invoices you send them, or they may simply have a bad day (or bad life) and vent their anger while talking to you.
Show the interviewers that you count with this aspect of the job. Ideally you should narrate a situation from the past, when a customer wasn’t happy about your message. You stayed calm, did not get involved into argument, and simply did your job the best you could.
If this your first job application, however, you can say what you would do when dealing with angry client, and emphasize that client’s bad behavior would not affect you negatively in work.
You’d simply deal with the unpleasant call, and move on.
Other questions you may face in your Account Receivable Clerk interview
- This is an entry level position. Tell us where you see yourself in five years from now.
- How do you ensure to make no mistakes in your work?
- Describe an ideal colleague, from your point of view.
- What do you consider your greatest weakness?
- Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to your boss, colleague, or to a customer. How did you manage to get your message over?
- Describe a time when you had to meet a tight deadline.
- How do you imagine a typical day in this job?
Summary and next steps
Interview for a job of Accounts Receivable Clerk belongs to interviews with average difficulty. They won’t test your excellent accounting skills with any sophisticated technical questions–because you do not need such skills to handle the job. You may get a basic accounting test, however, and if it’s a case you should practice for it in advance, because without passing they won’t hire you.
In terms of questions, they will ask you mostly personal and behavioral questions, trying to understand your personality, motivation, and attitude to work and to all kinds of situations that happen in a typical corporate environment. Once you get ready for the questions from this article, and for the eventual test, you should succeed, and land the job. I wish you good luck!
May also interest you:
- Interview Success Package – Brilliant answers to all difficult personal and behavioral interview questions. Forget the headaches, streamline your interview preparation, and get ready for the big day in less than three hours.
- Accounts Payable interview questions – A similar entry level job, and questions they typically ask in this interview.
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