Best Accounts Payable Interview Questions To Ask A Candidate

May 12, 2023

best accounts payable interview questions to ask a candidate

When hiring for an accounts payable (AP) role, pinpointing the right candidate goes beyond examining resumes and assessing professional backgrounds. It involves delving deeper into a candidate's problem-solving abilities, understanding of the AP process, technical skills, and interpersonal qualities.

But how do you uncover these crucial aspects during an interview?

In this article, we will guide you through the best accounts payable interview questions that will help you evaluate a candidate's potential to excel in this role.

Criteria for choosing accounts payable interview questions

When choosing accounts payable interview questions, it's essential to consider the following criteria to ensure you accurately assess a candidate's fit for the role:

  • Technical competence: include questions that assess the candidate's understanding of accounts payable processes, their experience with relevant software and tools, and their ability to handle complex tasks and situations.

  • Soft skills: choose questions that assess essential soft skills like communication, time management, attention to detail, and interpersonal abilities. These are crucial for building strong relationships with vendors, working effectively within a team, and ensuring accuracy in the role.

  • Behavioral and situational questions: ask candidates to draw from their past experiences or imagine themselves in a specific situation. This approach helps uncover how they have handled challenges in the past and how they would approach similar situations in the future.

  • Culture fit: consider questions that help determine whether the candidate's values, work style, and attitude align with your company's culture. This can contribute to better job satisfaction and retention.

What are the best accounts payable interview questions?

Here’s our list of the best accounts payable interview questions.

1. Can you describe your experience with accounts payable processes?

This question helps you understand the candidate's familiarity and expertise with AP tasks. It helps in assessing whether the candidate has the necessary experience to handle the responsibilities of the role.

2. What types of accounting software are you familiar with?

Different organizations use different software for their accounting processes. Understanding the candidate's experience with various software can help evaluate how quickly they can adapt to the tools your company uses.

3. How have you handled invoice discrepancies in the past?

Invoice discrepancies are common in AP roles. This question helps you gauge the candidate's problem-solving skills and their approach to resolving such issues, which are crucial for maintaining good relationships with vendors and accurate financial records.

4. Can you explain the end-to-end process of accounts payable?

This question is really important because it helps you assess the candidate's understanding of the complete AP process. You should make sure that they have the foundational knowledge they need to manage all aspects of the role.

5. What steps do you take to ensure accuracy in your work, particularly when entering data?

Accuracy is essential in an AP role, as errors can lead to serious financial consequences. This question helps determine whether the candidate has strategies to maintain accuracy and attention to detail in their work.

6. Have you ever had to handle a situation where a vendor's payment was late?


Late payments can strain vendor relationships and potentially disrupt supply chains. The way a candidate handles such a situation can reveal their problem-solving skills, communication abilities, and understanding of how to maintain strong vendor relationships.

7. Can you describe a time when you had to deal with a particularly difficult vendor?

This question tests a candidate's interpersonal skills and their ability to handle difficult conversations while maintaining professionalism, which is crucial in maintaining good vendor relationships.

8. How have you improved the accounts payable process at your previous job?

This question allows you to evaluate a candidate's ability to not only execute tasks but also to improve processes. It highlights their initiative, problem-solving abilities, and potentially their knowledge of best practices in the field.

9. Can you explain the concept of a three-way match?

The three-way match – comparing the invoice, order receipts and purchase orders before making a payment – is a key control in the AP process. So, the candidate should be able to demonstrate an understanding of crucial AP concepts and practices.

10. If a vendor calls and is upset because they haven’t received payment, how would you handle it?

This question evaluates the candidate's interpersonal and problem-solving skills. It assesses how they would handle a potentially stressful situation, maintain a professional demeanor, and take appropriate steps to resolve the issue. This is important as the accounts payable role often involves dealing with vendors and managing these relationships effectively.

11. What would you do if you noticed an unusual or suspicious invoice?

This question tests the candidate's attention to detail, critical thinking, and adherence to company policies and procedures. It gauges whether they have the ability to spot irregularities, which is essential in preventing fraud or errors, and whether they know how to handle such a situation appropriately.

12. How would you manage an invoice that has already been paid but is presented for payment again?

By asking this question, you can evaluate a candidate’s organizational skills and ability to maintain accurate financial records. It helps determine if they can prevent duplicate payments, which are a common issue in accounts payable, and how they would rectify such a situation.

13. How would you handle a situation where you have to process an urgent payment but the necessary approval hasn't been obtained yet?

This question tests the candidate's understanding of the importance of adhering to internal controls, even in high-pressure situations. It also assesses their problem-solving skills and ability to balance the need for speed with the need for compliance.

It's important in an accounts payable role to maintain these balances to prevent fraud, errors, and non-compliance with company policies or regulatory requirements.

Is there another way to evaluate accounts payable skills?

Interviews are indeed a valuable tool in the hiring process, but they have certain limitations. They may not fully reveal a candidate's personality traits, cognitive abilities, or potential for growth, especially as they often rely heavily on self-reported experiences and subjective evaluations.

By combining interviews with a job knowledge test, you get a more comprehensive understanding of a candidate's suitability for the role.

Check out our accounts payable job knowledge test to learn how pre-employment testing can objectively measure a candidate's aptitudes, soft skills, software skills and personality traits.