11 Critical Excel Interview Questions and Answers (2024)

Microsoft Excel has become the pivotal point of hiring in professional workforces. Companies prefer candidates who have real-time working experience with Excel.

This enormous spreadsheet software has become a powerful business resource with time. And every business wants to have a skilled Excel professional on their teams. 😀

Excel interview questions often revolve around common functions, data formats, and formulas.

If you’re going for an Excel interview, you might want to have a look at these questions below.

Common Interview Questions and Answers

The questions asked in Excel interviews are often more technical. They need a deep insight into the working and troubleshooting of functions.

You get to talk about your experience and skill level here. What solution would you present when faced with a certain problem?

Although we cannot predict the questions the interviewer asks us. But everyone follows a general pattern.

That patterns depend on your expertise level. Questions asked from a beginner will be different than those asked from an Excel expert

Some common MS Excel interview questions and answers are as below. Let’s dive right in.

What Is the Use Of A Spreadsheet?

Here’s an example of a basic question the interviewer might ask you. This is usually directed to beginners. But if you’re only in for managing the finances or administration – nothing technical – you might this as well.

You get an easy chance to display your knowledge of the software by telling what an Excel sheet is. It’s the first thing you see when you open a blank workbook. You can open more than one worksheet in a workbook – like pages in a notebook.

It lets you input, store, and display data in Excel. The Excel worksheet consists of rows and columns, which makes for the cells that contain the data.

How Do You Lock a Worksheet in Excel?

This is yet another beginner question. You don’t need to add other information here. Like why you need to lock a sheet.

Or how it would be useful, etc. Simply give a straightforward answer and move to the next question.

For instance:

1. You can lock a worksheet by right-clicking the sheet name at the bottom. Or you can access it from the Review Tab on the Ribbon.

Protecting a sheet by entering password.

2. Click Protect Sheet and a dialog box will be prompted.

3. Select the options you want to leave out for other users.

4. Enter a password to protect your sheet. Your sheet is now locked and can only be accessed by an authorized person. 😎the Ribbon.

What is Ribbon In Excel?

The Ribbon is one of the most useful and resourceful features of Excel. Giving the correct answer to this question is quite easy.

It will give the interviewer an idea that you have a sound knowledge of the working and vocabulary of Excel. It features an Excel toolbar and is at the top of the window.

You can access some important commands from it. These include the Home Tab, Insert Tab, Layout Tab, Formulas Tab, and other tabs like this.

The Ribbon featuring some important commands.

Explain to the interviewer how you can customize the Ribbon. How to make the desired changes, and toggle it using CTRL + F1, etc. You should be good to go.

What Are Some Common Formats in Excel?

Data formats make up an important part of MS Excel, and this falls in the basic questions category. You could be asked about how many cell formats there are? What role a certain symbol plays or how to display numbers in decimal, etc?

It is on the Home Tab under the Number group. The default mode displays General, and all the data is formatted in it.

The format options under the Number group.

Select a format you like from the dropdown list and apply it to the data.

Formatting options to choose in MS Excel.

To ace this question, concisely tell the interviewer how the format works. And when you can use it on numerical data.

You can also explain how to round off numbers. How to change them into percentages or currency, and display dates in Excel.

Although this question is pretty basic, it may lead to a series of more complicated questions. So, you must be prepared.

What is the Correct Order of Operations?

This has to be one of the most asked Excel interview questions. It holds the basis for evaluating formulas in Excel and uses a specific pattern to analyze data.

You don’t need to give a complicated answer here. Or delve into your personal experiences.

The interviewer here intends to know your knowledge of Excel formulas. And how you use critical thinking to get answers straight.

Be clear and concise in your answer. Excel uses the PEMDAS order to execute operations. It stands for Parentheses, Exponentiation, Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction. And that’s it. 😀

What is VLOOKUP Function?

The VLOOKUP function can be a little difficult to explain but we got you. The VLOOKUP function is used to gather data from another sheet and combine it into a data column.

Here, the V refers to vertical here, and you can find data written in column letters using this function. The key here is to explain the function straightforwardly.

It should be easy enough for a person with no prior VLOOKUP experience to grasp the concept. You can also use a personal experience to relate to the function and give a better understanding.

You can say VLOOKUP is a resourceful function of Excel. It helps collect data from different sheets and matches them with corresponding data.

VLOOKUP arguments.

It is similar to the LOOKUP function but is slightly more complicated. The arguments in its syntax determine the place of the required value, where the value is to be returned, etc. These are shown above.

As a bookkeeper of a big firm, and I was tasked with keeping track of the sales made and storing them separately.

I used the VLOOKUP function to filter data, and all was done before I could blink an eye. It sorted the entire data in seconds, and it gave me extra time to manage a bonus task. But it has its fair share of limitations.

Mentioning limitations indicates that you have practical experience with the function. Make sure to approach this subject with prowess, expertise, and positivity.

A simple, concise answer would suffice. You can say that the biggest drawback of VLOOKUP is its ease of disintegrating. The column index number becomes subject to change as soon as you shift any column to add new data. This requires the formula to be entered again.

And that’s a neat way of impressing the interviewer. 😎rresponding data.

What is a Pivot Table?

A question like this checks your knowledge and experience with the function. How to create a pivot table and what it is used for is by far one of the most asked Excel questions.

That’s because of the importance it holds in that giant spreadsheet software. You can use this to signal your data analysis experience with pivot tables in the Excel workbook.

Try giving a simple but thorough answer. For instance, pivot tables help organize, summarize, or average data from a data table as its dialog box appears.

Create a pivot table in Excel.

It is so easy to create pivot tables and is so resourceful that data analysts use it on a daily basis.

I have used pivot tables to compute the maximum monthly sales of a brand. Only recently, I was tasked to do a comparison of the sales of Milford Real Estate in the last five years.

I created a pivot table that displayed the years in rows, and the column letter showed the brands. I collected the data from the database and entered it into the pivot table data. Using the pivot chart, I was able to put forth the sales generated in each year and the net gross profit.

You can perform multiple calculations in one go using this function easily.

What Are Some Common Functions in Excel?

Excel has a plethora of functions and knowing some of them can help you secure your position. It is possible that the role you are interviewing for revolves around a certain function and your expertise in it.

That’s why having a general knowledge of all the functions is mandatory and a little more for the functions you are being interviewed for. 😁

These include the index and match functions, the IF function, the SUM function, the SUMIF function, the COUNT function, the Pivot chart, and a few other important Excel functions. You can find them all here.

What Are Charts and Dropdown Lists in Excel?

Charts are an important part of Excel. They let you view the information in an organized way and present a clear difference. Charts are extensively used in businesses and large corporations. They help divide large data into small chunks and make it more comprehensible.

You can say charts represent the data graphically in Excel. And offer an easy insight into complicated trends and relationships.

A dropdown list, also known as DDL, helps you select an option from a list of options instead of manually typing it.

You just need to input your entries in the dropdown list. You can easily create one by using the data tools group.

1. Go to the Data Tab, and click Data Validation.

Selecting the data validation option for quick data analysis.

2. A prompt screen will show up, asking you to input the criteria.

3. Under the setting option, choose List and select the multiple cells with the cell reference where the source list array resides.

4. Your dropdown list will appear.

What is Macro in Excel?

Macro is one of the most commonly used tools in Excel. It lets you automate a task or set of operations.

Recording steps in Macro for automation.

This is for people who use Excel on a daily basis . You can automate the tasks by performing them and saving the steps in Macro.

Excel will perform the task itself without you having to manually type in the data and perform the analysis.

Say you are a bookkeeper and you need to record the profit and loss of each day. To automate it in Macros, save the steps and formulas in Excel. And it will calculate it for you every day with a single click.

You might need some knowledge of Macro languages for this work, though. Two languages are in constant use all the time.

These include VBA code (Visual Basic for Applications) and the XLM language. You can also try the XLSM language – often used to make the XLSM Excel binary workbook.

What is Cell Referencing?

Cell reference or cell address refers to its location in an Excel workbook. The intersection of rows and columns forms blank cells. And each blank cell has a specific location.

For instance, a cell in the first column and second row will be A2. This is its cell address and can be used to call it.

There are two types of cell references:

  • Relative Cell Reference
  • Absolute Cell Reference

Both represent the address of a cell. There is only a small difference.

Relative cell referencing is when the cell address changes dynamically. As you copy the content and paste it into another cell, the location changes. Simply put, relative cell references change the location of the cell.

Absolute cell referencing is the complete opposite of relative cell address. Once you’ve applied absolute reference to a cell, its location will not change. No matter where you paste the cell’s content. The Dollar sign $ represents it and it comes before and after the cell address.

That’s it – What’s next?

Excel is the biggest spreadsheet software available today. The questions asked for an Excel post-interview are directly proportional to the nature of the job and related functions in Excel.

There is still so much to learn, and everything explained in this article does not makeup even 5% of it. That’s where the possibilities (and nervousness) reach their peak. 😅

All you need to know is to understand as much as you can and be confident during the interview – the rest is luck. You can begin your learning journey by practicing the core functions of Excel like VLOOKUP, IF, and SUMIF functions.

Enroll in my free 30-minute email course to master these functions (and more!)

Other resources

This article only covers the most major Excel interview questions. If you find this article interesting, we bet you will love others too.

Learn how to Master the VBA Language, INDEX + MASTER, and the VLOOKUP function in Excel.