Find the Perfect Fit: Interviewing Tips for New Managers

The job interview is essential in determining if an accounting applicant is the right fit for your organization. But these meetings require significant planning and skill. And they can be nerve-wracking experiences for both parties. If you’re new to conducting interviews, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Check the facts

Prior to each interview, closely review the resume and cover letter to develop a list of questions about the candidate’s work history and experience. Take a careful look at job titles and responsibilities and make a note of any ambiguities you want clarified. Also, be on the lookout for any gaps in employment history that require further explanation.

Mix it up

Asking a variety of questions is, without a doubt, one of the most important interviewing tips. Consider including a few from each of the following categories to help you learn about the candidate’s personality and qualifications:

  • Standard — Standard questions are tried-and-true because they’re effective. Consider opening with something like, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” or “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” These are good first questions because they’re predictable, and they get the interviewee warmed up.
  • Behavioral — Asking behavioral questions helps determine how a candidate will function in the workplace. They’re directed at past job experiences, forcing the candidate to provide concrete examples. They also set you up to delve further with follow-up questions. Typical behavioral questions include, “Tell me about a time when you dealt with a difficult client?” or “Give an example of an interpersonal problem you faced on the job and tell me how you solved it.”
  • Off-the-wall — Find out about a candidate’s interests and see how well they think on their feet by throwing a curveball or two. Does the person get flustered easily or is he or she able to come up with witty responses on the fly? Try asking something like, “If you were a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?”

While preparing a list of questions ahead of time is certainly helpful and allows you to compare candidates’ responses, don’t be afraid to go off script when necessary. If you tie yourself to your prepared questions, you risk missing out on important information that could arise if the interview flows more naturally.

Shake up the format

Many employers ask job candidates to go through more than one interview. Using different interview formats serves two main purposes: It allows the employer to see how candidates behave in various environments, and it also shows how they’ll interact with future coworkers. In addition to the traditional interview, consider holding a panel interview involving current employees.

Ask until you get the answers you need

One of the most crucial interviewing tips is this: Don’t be afraid to keep asking questions. Many job candidates offer canned answers or rely on buzzword-ridden double-speak, using a lot of words to say very little about their actual abilities and experience. The interview is your chance to find out what you need to know about potential new employees, and if their answers are insufficient, keep pressing. If you’re a passive interviewer, you run the risk of hiring someone who’s good in an interview but not on the job. Bad hires can be costly. Remember that proper preparation and persistence pays off.