Top 20 + common Excel questions for your job interview

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This page list all common Excel questions for your job interview and their answer. This page will be updated regularly to ensure it’s most updated accuracy. Please come back regularly or consider to have this page bookmarked.

Common Excel questions for your job interview

1) What is Microsoft Excel?

Microsoft Excel is software that is part of Ms-Office family. It is an electronic spreadsheet application that enables users to store, organise, calculate and manipulate the data with formulas using a spreadsheet system broken up by rows and columns. It also provides the flexibility to use an external database to do analysis, make reports, etc. thus saving lots of time.

2) What is ribbon in Excel?

View Ribbon
View Ribbon

Following is the key function of a Ribbon:

  • is available since MS-Office 2007.
  • Replaced menus and toolbars in previous Office version.
  • Ribbon have the same functionality as as menus or toolbar. Ribbon reorganised those buttons in a more user friendly way.
  • Ribbons have various tabs on the top
  • each tab has its own group of commands, and they are separated by a bar.
  • Can be shown/hidden using CTRL + F1 or double click the tab name.

Please refer to my other blog – “Introduction to Excel Ribbon – Excel Interview Questions” for a detail illustration of the each ribbons.

3) What is a Spreadsheet?

A spreadsheet can be compared to a paper ledger sheet. It consists or rows and columns and their intersection called cells.

4) Name all data formats available in Excel?

Some people may says there are eleven data formats are available in Microsoft Excel for data Storage such as

  • Number – Stores data as a number
  • Currency – Stores data in the form of currency
  • Date – Data is stored as dates
  • Percentage – Stores numbers as a percentage
  • Text Formats – Stores data as string of texts

However, this answer is not precious. Excel can display a value in 11 different formats such as

  • Number – Stores data as a number
  • Currency – Stores data in the form of currency
  • Date – Data is stored as dates
  • Percentage – Stores numbers as a percentage
  • Text Formats – Stores data as string of texts

However, those values are only stored in three different types:

  1. Numbers
  2. Text
  3. Formula

All Date, Number, Percentage, Currency etc are stored as number but just presented differently according to corresponding requirement.

Please refer to my blog “How many data format available in Excel – Excel Interview Question” for further information.

5) Specify the order of operations used for evaluating formulas in Excel.

The order of operations in Microsoft Excel is same as in standard mathematics. It’s defined by the term “PEMDAS” or “BEDMAS”.

  • Parentheses or Brackets
  • Exponent
  • Multiplication
  • Division
  • Addition
  • Subtraction
Operator NameExcelStandard MathematicsNotes
Open Brackets((, [, {Excel support multiple nest brackets. However, it simply reuse the same type of brackets.
Close Brackets)) ] }Excel support multiple nest brackets. However, it simply reuse the same type of brackets.
Exponent

^ (e.g. 3 ^ 2)

Superscribe (e.g. 3 2)
Multiple*X
Division//
Plus++
Minus--

6) How can you wrap the text within a cell?

You must select the cell you want to wrap, and then click wrap text from the home tab and you can wrap the text within a cell.

Wrap Text

Wrap Text

7) Explain Macro in MS-Excel.

Macros are used for iterating over a group of tasks. Users can create macros for their customized repetitive functions and instructions. Macros can be either written or recorded depending on the user.

8)Which are the two macro languages in MS-Excel?

XLM and VBA (Visual Basic Applications).  Earlier versions of Excel used XLM. VBA was introduced in Excel 5 and mostly used now.

9) Is it possible to prevent someone from copying the cell from your worksheet?

Yes, it is possible. You can do so by avoiding people to select locked cells. Following is the steps:

  1. Goto the Review Ribbon
  2. Click Protect Sheet
  3. Enter a Password and select Unclick “Select locked cells”
Unclick "Select locked cells"
Unclick “Select locked cells”

Than you can secure your sheet from getting copied by others. Note: if we don’t unclick “select locked cells” then although the sheet is locked, user can still select the cell and copy the cell from the spreadsheet.

10) What is charts in Excel?

To enable a graphical representation of the data in Excel, charts are provided. A user can use any chart type, including column, bar, line, pie, scatter, etc. by selecting an option from Insert tab’s Chart group.

Note: There is a big improvement between Excel 2010, 2013 and 2016.

11) How to use sum formula in excel

By using SUM function, you can get the total sum of the rows and columns, in an Excel worksheet.

Sum

refer to my other blog – top 5 most useful excel mathematical functions – for further illustration.

12) Explain few useful functions in Excel.

Following are the functions available in Excel for manipulating the data:

13) What does a red triangle at the top right of a cell indicate?

The red triangle indicates that some comment is associated with the cell. Hover the mouse over it, and you can read the full comment.

Click here for instructions of how to add/update or delete a comment.

14) How can you add a new Excel worksheet?

To add a new Excel worksheet, you should insert worksheet tab at the bottom of the screen.

Please refer to my blog How to manipulate sheets in Excel for further information regarding to excel worksheet managing.

15) What is the use of NameBox in MS-Excel?

Name Box is used to return to a particular area of the worksheet by typing the range name or cell address in the name box.Please refer to my blog How to assign a business name to a range for further information regarding to the Name Box.

16) How can you resize the column?

To resize the column, you should change the width of one column and then drag the boundary on the right side of the column heading till the width you want.  The other way of doing it is to select the Format from the home tab, and in Format you have to select AUTOFIT COLUMN WIDTH under cell section. On clicking on this, the cell size will get formatted.

17) Explain pivot tables and its uses.

A pivot table is a tool that allows for quick summarization of large data. It automatically performs a sort, count, total or average of the data stored in the spreadsheet and displays result in another spreadsheet. It saves a lot of time. Allows to link external data sources to our Excel.

Refer to How to Create Pivot Table in Excel

18) What are three report (Pivot Table) formats that are available in Excel?

Following are the types of report formats

  • Compact
  • Outline
  • Tabular

How to change report formats in Excel

19) How would you provide a Dynamic range in “Data Source” of Pivot Tables?

To provide a dynamic range in “Data Source” of Pivot tables, first, create a named range using offset function and base the pivot table using a named range created in the first step.

How to create a dynamic range in Excel

20) Is it possible to make Pivot table using multiple sources of data?

Yes it is possible. There are two ways to do the job. First way is to use Microsoft Query to join all sources into one data table and display the result as a pivot table. This way is the most fixable way as it allows user to connect data from multiple data sources (not limit to excel files) into one single table in the ways that the user wanted. However, as Microsoft Query use using database concept to link up data source, this is more likely to be used by user with database background.The other way to do the job is to use the Pivot Table wizard to create a Pivot table with multiple range of data.

However, using this method each range of data should be arranged in cross-tab format, with matching row and column names for items that you want to summarise together. Do not include any total rows or total columns from the source data when you specify the data for the report.

21) Which event do you use to check whether the Pivot Table is modified or not?

To check whether the pivot table is modified or not we use “PivotTableUpdate” in worksheet containing the pivot table.

22) How can you disable automatic sorting in pivot tables?

Following is the steps to disable automatic sorting in pivot tables:

  • Right-click the “row area of the pivot table
Pivot Table Alt Menu (Row)
  • Select “Sort”
right click pivot table - Sort
  • Select “More Sort Option”
More Sort Optons
  • Click “More Options” button
  • deselect “Sort Automatically” and click “OK”
More Sort Options Windows - Pivot Table

23) What is Freeze Panes in MS-Excel?

To lock any row or column, freeze panes is used. The locked row or column will be visible on the screen even after we scroll the sheet vertically or horizontally. See : Common excel questions: How to divide a single sheets into multiple windows in Excel? for detail

24) What could you do to stop the pivot table from losing the column width upon refreshing?

To lock any row or column, freeze panes is used. The locked row or column will be visible on the screen even after we scroll the sheet vertically or horizontally. See : Common excel questions: How to divide a single sheets into multiple windows in Excel? for detail Format loss in a pivot table can be avoided simply by changing the pivot table options.  Under the “Pivot Table Options” turn on the “Enable Preserve Formatting” and disable “Auto Format” option

25) Explain workbook protection types in Excel.

Excel provides three ways to protect a workbook:

  • Password protection for opening a workbook
  • Protection for adding, deleting, hiding and unhiding sheets
  • Protection from changing size or position of windows.

26) Explain the difference between SUBSTITUTE and REPLACE function in MS-Excel?

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;;;A;;;B;;;C;nn;
1;;; ;;;Substitute;;;Replace;nn;
2;;;Function;;;To replace a text within another text by a new text;;;swaps part of the text string with another set of text.;nn;
3;;;Syntax;;;=SUBSTITUTE(text,old_text_new_text,[Instance_num]);;;=replace(text,strt_num, num_ of chars, new text);nn;
4;;;;;;Example;;;;nn;
5;;;Text;;;This university is NOT the best!;;;This university is NOT the best!;nn;
6;;;Old Text;;;T;;;;nn;
7;;;new text;;;W;;;NOW;nn;
8;;;Instance Number;;;2;;;;nn;
9;;;Start Num;;;;;;20;nn;
10;;;Number of Charcters;;;;;;3;nn;
11;;;Formula;;;=SUBSTITUTE(B5,B6,B7,2);;;=replace(C5,C9,C3,C7);nn;
12;;;Result;;;This university is NOW the best!;;;This university is NOW the best!;nn;
[/vtftable]

For further detail about Substitute and Replace function, please refer to : How to replace words in excel? Substitute or replace?

27) Difference between COUNT, COUNTA, COUNTIF, COUNTIFS and COUNTBLANK in Ms-Excel.

COUNT – Count number of cells that have numbers or values

COUNTA – count any cell value containing numbers, text, logical values, etc. any type of value excluding blanks.

COUNTIF – count cells matching a certain criteria

COUNTIFS – Similar to countif function. However, it allows multiple criterias from multiple ranges nd counts the number of times all criteria are meet

COUNTBLANK – Count number of blank cells

For further information see Excel Tutorial: Difference between COUNT, COUNTA, COUNTIF, COUNTIFS and COUNTBLANK in Ms-Excel.

28) What is IF function in Excel?

The IF function in Excel is one of the most popular functions, and it allows you to make logical comparisons between a value and what you expect.

Example: For example, you select the cell, and you want to display that cell as “Greater than five,” when value is true (=5 or 5) and “less than five” when value is false (<5). For that by using IF condition you can display result. =IF (Logical test, value if true, value if false) =IF (A1>5, “Greater than five, “Less than five”)

For further information see Excel Tutorial : if function in Excel

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