Questions About Excel in an Interview (With Example Answers)

Updated July 21, 2022

Many companies rely on Microsoft Excel to help them manage and organize various aspects of their business. As a result, it's common for companies to ask you interview questions that relate to how familiar you are with the program. By preparing for potential interview questions regarding Microsoft Excel, you can improve your chances of impressing the hiring manager and getting the job. In this article, we discuss what you can expect from Microsoft Excel questions in an interview and provide you with a variety of different interview questions and answers you can use to prepare.

What to expect from questions about Microsoft Excel in an interview

By knowing what to expect from questions about excel in an interview, you can prepare and build your confidence. As part of the broader interview strategy, Excel questions typically focus on the most important aspects, like formulas, functions, and data formats. It may be beneficial to practice formatting in Excel before your interview to reacquaint yourself with the fundamentals of the program.

If you're applying for a position that requires advanced knowledge of spreadsheets, a more in-depth familiarization with Excel may be necessary. A few examples of jobs that require a high level of Excel experience include accounting, data entry, and retail managers.

Related: Advanced Excel Skills: Definitions and Examples

10 Excel interview questions and example answers

Typically, questions about Excel in an interview are technical and provide you with an opportunity to show your experience and skill level. Here are 10 interview questions about Microsoft Excel, with examples you can use as a reference when preparing your own answers:

1. What is Microsoft Excel?

This question gathers information about your fundamental understanding of the application and your experience. Depending on the interviewer's knowledge of the program, this may lead to progressively more complex Excel questions. This type of question assesses your familiarity with the software and tests your ability to form clear and concise explanations.

Example: "Microsoft Excel provides users with the ability to store, organize, calculate, and manipulate both small and large lets of data in a software program that is organized into rows and columns."

Related: Computer Literacy in the Workplace: What You Need to Know

2. How many data formats are available in Excel? Please name five.

This question measures how well you know the program. By answering this question, you can demonstrate your expertise and depth of knowledge of Microsoft Excel. This is also an excellent opportunity for the interviewer to gain insight into the programs you're most familiar with by hearing the five examples that you provide.

Example: "There are 11 data formats available in Excel. Five examples from the 11 data formatting options include number formatting, currency formatting, text formats, percentages, and dates. Each format stores data in a distinct form, such as a series of text or as various currencies."

3. What's a pivot table and how's it used?

This is a two-part question that builds off of your definition of a pivot table. This question allows you to show your resourcefulness with the program and allows you to reflect on your understanding of the pivot table. A question that asks how you use something or how you do something is an excellent opportunity to illustrate your experience with specific examples.

Example: "A pivot table can summarize large amounts of data. It allows you to analyze numerical data thoroughly and answer unanticipated questions, and present them in a user-friendly way. I once created a pivot table for a company that wanted to figure out which of their brands was producing the best sales over the course of two months. The pivot table had Column A showing the brands and Row 1 showing the months of October and November. I extracted information to compute total sales by brand per month. This allowed the company to identify which of its subsidiaries performed best."

4. How do you disable the automatic sorting feature in pivot tables?

You can answer this question by explaining in simple terms how to complete this process. This type of question allows you to provide a straightforward answer using a step-by-step narrative. While other questions have asked for examples, this is a direct question that doesn't require further expansion.

Example: "If you wish to disable the automatic sorting feature in a pivot table, you begin by clicking on the 'more sort options' button' followed by right-clicking the 'pivot tables' option that appears. You can then select the 'more options' button on the sort menu, and from there, you can choose 'deselect sort automatically'."

5. What's an Excel Macro?

This is another question that tests your fundamental understanding of Excel's most used features. If a position requires consistent and repetitive Excel use, the ability to create macros may be crucial. Answering this question shows that you have practical experience in working with Excel.

Example: "Excel Macros are extremely useful for automating simple repetitive tasks and instructions. Microsoft Excel users can write macros to be for instant use or they can record them to use them later in the future."

6. How many Excel Macro languages are there, and what are their names?

While an understanding of what an Excel Macro is and how it functions isn't necessary to answer this question, it may be helpful to know to answer this question successfully. Answering this type of question clearly can help you display your proficiency in a more technical aspect. This is another two-part question where a stronger understanding of the subject can be very beneficial.

Example: "Currently, the most commonly used Macro language in Excel is VBA. Prior versions of Excel used XLM."

Related: A List of Intermediate Skills in Excel to Include in Your Resume

7. How do you apply the same formatting to multiple sheets in a Microsoft Excel workbook?

An interview question like this one requires another step-by-step answer. When you can answer this question, you're displaying a familiarity with using multiple functions and features within Excel. Explanations are easier to understand when in simple terms and direct language.

Example: "The first step is to right-click 'Worksheet tab' and press 'Select all sheets'. Now any formatting applies to the entire workbook. If you only wish to apply formatting to a specific group of sheets, instead of ‘select all' you can select the individual sheets you'd like to group."

8. What are the benefits of using the formula function on an Excel spreadsheet?

This question explores your understanding of the impacts Excel has on its users. The formula function on Excel can be incredibly useful for a multitude of people and businesses. Answering this question can demonstrate that you're comfortable working within Excel and can produce positive results using its features.

Example: "The Excel formula feature can not only calculate the final sum of a calculation, but it can also make calculations automatically when one number gets replaced with another. With the help of Excel's formulas feature, you can do complex calculations easily, such as accounting calculations and statistical findings."

9. How do you resize a column?

A question of this type relates to the basic features of Excel and your understanding of how to use them. While this is a straightforward question, it may require a larger amount of explanation than some of the other questions. It may be helpful for the interviewer to hear you explain the process in technical terms with as much detail as possible.

Example: "From my personal experience, I've found that the easiest way to resize a column is to change the width of one column and then drag the boundary on the right side of the column heading to the desired width. Another way to resize a column is to select 'Format' from the home tab, and select 'Auto-fit Column Width' under the cell section. By clicking on it, the cell size formats correctly."

Related: 5 Basic Excel Skills and How to Include Them in Your Resume

10. Is there a way to prevent someone from copying cells from within your worksheet?

Specific companies and organizations may have password protection policies or safety precautions. Questions about security help ensure that you know how to protect your work and potentially the work of your future colleagues or business. A direct approach may be the best way to answer this question, as it's in relation to important insurance aspects of the program.

Example: "If you want to prevent your worksheet from being copied, you can do so by creating a password. The first step is going into the 'Menu' bar that is at the top left side of the program. From there you click on 'Review,' then 'Protect Sheet,' and finally, a section labeled 'Password' appears. This is where you can enter a password to prevent others from copying your sheet."

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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