10 Phone Interview Questions Recruiters Like to Ask

By Robert Half on October 4, 2022 at 5:00pm

What’s your favorite phone interview question for finance and accounting candidates — outside of the standard questions — and why?

Recruiters understand that helping employers find the best candidates for available roles includes confirming that potential hires have the skills and experience to do the job well and digging deeper to understand their personality and how they like to work within a team.

We asked several Robert Half recruiting professionals to tell us what specific questions they like to ask during phone interviews to gain additional insights about job candidates for finance and accounting roles. Here are 10 questions they shared:

  1. What inspires or excites you about your career?
  2. What is an accomplishment you’re most proud of?
  3. How will you be remembered in your last position?
  4. What are you hoping is different in a new job compared with your current job?
  5. What do you like to do for fun on the weekends?
  6. Tell me about yourself.
  7. What sets you apart?
  8. Tell me about the last project you successfully completed on a team of three or more people.
  9. What motivates you?
  10. What are three things you like or dislike about your current manager?

1. What inspires or excites you about your career?

I love this question because you get to know the candidate on a more personal level. You start understanding what really motivates and drives them, which will lead to a much deeper career discussion. This business is about relationships and those start with an initial phone call, so let’s make them as valuable as possible.

Edgin Levy, assistant vice president

2. What is an accomplishment you’re most proud of?

This gives candidates an opportunity to share something that is not on their resume. It allows them to showcase their abilities outside of the job duties and description. Their answer shows hiring managers how they work and how they may have been able to think outside of the box; it helps paint a picture of the person before they meet.

People love to talk about accomplishments, and hiring managers love to hear them!

Jessica Alexander, recruiting manager

3. How will you be remembered in your last position?

Asking this question allows the candidate to talk about the impact they had on their company and/or department. It gives you the opportunity for follow-up questions to learn more about their background and character.

Since this question isn’t commonly asked, it can catch candidates off guard. That also gives you a glimpse of how quickly they can think on their feet.

Stacey Bowman, recruiting manager

4. What are you hoping is different in a new job compared with your current job?

This question helps me understand the candidate’s motivation for leaving, which ultimately assists me in discovering what is most important for their next opportunity.

Donavan Manning, practice director

5. What do you like to do for fun on the weekends?

This is my favorite question to ask. It gives me an idea of what they might be looking for from a company culture perspective. It also helps build a collaborative relationship between the candidate and me. Often, I can relate to the candidate’s answer, which solidifies our relationship and builds trust.

Morgan Crawley, practice director

6. Tell me about yourself.

One of my first questions to nearly every candidate is, “Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?”

This is a powerful question for a multitude of reasons. It allows the candidate to let their guard down and have some friendly rapport before diving into deeper questions. This gives me a chance to get to know them on a more personal level outside of career-focused questions. This often leads to learning why a candidate truly might be seeking a new opportunity. Building good rapport is the key to building a solid relationship that is mutually beneficial for both parties.

Chris Chunn, vice president

7. What sets you apart?

One of my favorite questions is: What sets you apart from every other finance and accounting professional that does what you do?

Candidates need to highlight their key accomplishments effectively and the value they bring to an employer. They should think about this ahead of time and be ready to sell their skills confidently.

Lindo Gharib, district president

8. Tell me about the last project you successfully completed on a team of three or more people.

This will tell you some of the following attributes and more:

  • If they are collaborative
  • Their thought process when working to complete a project
  • How they reacted to obstacles
  • If they are deadline-driven
  • If they took a leadership role on the team
  • If they opted to be an individual contributor
  • If they have presentation skills

Emily Sullivan, vice president, permanent placement

9. What motivates you?

Finding out what truly motivates a candidate not only aids in finding the right job for them but also helps them think deeply about their passions and reasons for making a career change. Since life changes can be difficult for many individuals, finding their triggers helps ensure the new opportunity will not only be exciting but will have a long-lasting positive result.

Megan Rogers, recruiting manager

10. What are three things you like and dislike about your current manager?

I like to ask candidates three things they like and three things they dislike about their current manager because it tells me about their work style, what would be a good environment and management style in their next role, and if they like to work on a team or as an individual.

The answer to this question also gives me insight into the candidate’s personality so I can better match that professional with a potential employer.

Lisa Coker, practice director

10 Phone Interview Questions Recruiters Like to Ask

Robert Half recruiters (top row, from left): Lisa Coker, Megan Rogers, Jessica Alexander and Chris Chunn; (middle row, from left) Morgan Crawley, Lindo Gharib and Edgin Levy (bottom row, from left): Emily Sullivan, Donavan Manning and Stacey Bowman.

Looking for finance and accounting jobs?

Robert Half is featured on Forbes’ 2022 list of America’s Best Professional Recruiting Firms (#1). For details on how our recruiters can help you find finance and accounting roles that align with your skills, experience and interests, visit this page. To search for employment opportunities in your field, view our current job listings.

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