9 Interview Tips to Will Help You Hire the Best Accounting Team

By Robert Half on January 21, 2014 at 1:00pm

You’re eager to bring a new member on board for your accounting and finance team. You’ve sifted through the cover letters and resumes, but before you meet your top choices, you could use some interview tips.

Is there some good advice for what hiring managers should do before and during the interview, and are there some common interview questions to get you started? Yes, and yes. By preparing, asking a blend of the right questions and listening to others and your own intuition, you will find just the right person to complement your team.

Read on for nine solid interview tips to help you hire top talent in accounting and finance:

Before the interview

You know the candidates will be getting ready for the interview, but you have to prepare, too. You're in charge of this project, so give it your all

1. Plan sufficient time — If you’re rushed, you won’t be able to thoroughly assess their qualifications or fit with the company.

2. Write down questions — Have more questions than you need, knowing that you don’t have to ask them all. (See below for more specifics on the types of questions to ask.)

For compelling skill-based questions, read Why You Need to Ask These 20 Accounting Interview Questions.

3. Ask colleagues to participate — You can conduct a group interview to save time and see how they conduct themselves in a group setting. Or you and your colleagues can interview them individually during one-on-one sessions. Or you can do both. Either way, it's a good idea compare your impressions with others.

During the interview

Once you've done the preliminary work, you can focus on the interview, taking notes along the way.

4. Record your first impressions — The candidates’ appearance, handshake, posture and expression say much about their professionalism and enthusiasm for the position.

5. Let them talk — You need to take the lead, but be sure not to monopolize the interview. Ask open-ended questions. Encourage accounting and finance professionals to provide details. Don’t interrupt or finish their sentences.

6. Listen to your intuition. Be alert to any signs of conflict in previous jobs. Are their answers glib and superficial or sincere and unaffected? Pay attention to body language and tone of voice. Jot down your impressions.

Common (and not-so-common) questions

Make sure your questions cover the three basic types of interview questions.

7. Ask standard questions — These are the questions everyone knows: What are your strengths and weaknesses? Why are you a good fit for this job? Where do you see yourself in five years? Most candidates will have rehearsed responses for these.

8. Ask behavioral questions — Behavioral interview questions are those that ask what the candidate would do in certain situations, such as conflicts with coworkers or discovering that someone was cheating.

9. Throw in some unusual questions — This is a good way to see how quickly candidates think on their feet. Their responses can shed light on their personality and ethics. Some examples:

  • What is your perfect job?
  • What kind of supervisor gets the best work out of you?
  • How do you organize your time?
  • What are/were the best things about your current/most recent job?
  • What bloggers and news sources do you follow, and why?
  • If you didn’t have to work for money, what would you be doing?
  • Where have you traveled, and what are some lessons you’ve learned from being in a culture outside your own?
  • What are some recent headlines that have made an impact on you?
  • If you could have coffee with anyone living or dead, who would it be?

You probably already know you should never ask direct questions regarding a candidate’s ethnicity, religion, family status, sexual orientation, politics or health unless it’s part of the job description, such as being strong enough to lift 20 pounds. But if you’re concerned about the candidates’ other obligations, you could ask, “Are you able to occasionally work nights or weekends?”

A lot rides on the outcome of an interview. Are there interview red flags to watch for while you're interviewing candidates? You bet.

Could you use some help with your hiring needs?

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