Why this matters:

Understanding which enterprise resource planning (ERP) software the candidate is familiar with will help you determine how easily a candidate will integrate with your team. Depending on your company’s needs, you might be looking for someone who can ramp up to full productivity quickly or you might be willing to spend longer training them on your software if they possess desirable skills in other areas.

What to listen for:

  • Familiarity with Hyperion, Microsoft Dynamics GP, and Oracle Enterprise Manager
  • Experience and comfort using your company’s preferred software
  • Flexibility, positive attitude, and willingness to learn new technologies

Why this matters:

To protect your company from fraudulent activity, accountants must be vigilant about fraud detection and prevention. Since they’ll be tasked with enforcing policies that protect your company’s financial assets and value, it’s essential to find someone with a proven track record of trustworthiness and expertise. This question ensures your candidate has a fresh and forward-thinking approach to maintaining security knowledge.

What to listen for:

  • Familiarity with a range of fraud prevention practices, tools, and software
  • Hands-on experience deploying security strategies like surprise auditing
  • Understanding of security-related responsibilities and commitment to ethics

Why this matters:

Quality control is an essential element of accounting. Even the smallest accounting errors can cost companies time, money, and headaches if they go undetected. Answers can indicate whether a candidate is organized, methodical, and precise. Learning which strategies your candidate uses to ensure accuracy can give you confidence that they won’t let anything slip through the cracks.

What to listen for:

  • Knowledge of quality control strategies, such as cross-checking
  • Ability to follow directions with a natural tendency toward detail-orientation
  • Motivation to proactively find and fix accounting errors

Why this matters:

This question will help you understand how comfortable the candidate is working under pressure. Strict deadlines are a common occurrence in the accounting world, so it’s important for these professionals to be able to stay on top of their work. If they get busy, they must be able to communicate and delegate to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

What to listen for:

  • A positive outlook, despite what challenges arise
  • Communication skills with the ability to prioritize and delegate effectively
  • Interest in time management techniques, such as planning each day in advance

Why this matters:

Cutting costs is an important part of the job, so a good accountant should be able to share examples of how their efforts impacted the bottom line — like helping the company develop a more tax-efficient plan, automate processes to avoid human errors, or capitalize on new industry trends. If they have recognized opportunities like these in the past, they’re likely to be a major asset to your company.

 

What to listen for:

  • Knowledge of proactive strategies that go beyond simple bookkeeping
  • Comfort exploring challenges and communicating ideas with business leaders
  • Expressed dedication to going above and beyond to increase company revenues

Why this matters:

While quality control is essential, everyone makes mistakes sometimes. The important thing is how they handle the situation and what steps they take to avoid making the same mistake again. You need to know that your new accounting hire can take responsibility for their errors, quickly resolve them, and take steps to improve day-to-day processes.

What to listen for:

  • An example of a relatively minor error that was satisfactorily remedied
  • Demonstration of a constructive approach to problem-solving
  • Introspection in conveying what they learned from experience

Why this matters:

This question helps you screen for communication skills. While accounting professionals may spend most of their time dealing with numbers, they will also have to regularly discuss and present financial data to employees and executives outside their department. Getting this information across clearly is critical to the business’s success.

What to listen for:

  • Comfort discussing financial concepts with both business leaders and laymen
  • Communication skills in translating complex information into simple terms
  • Patience and willingness to help people understand

 

Why this matters:

Top accountants are team players who apply their problem-solving, analytical, and communication skills to achieve common goals. They aren’t afraid to step up and take charge when necessary, while still respecting the ideas and contributions of every team member. The goal is to find someone who will bring unique skills to complement the team.

 

What to listen for:

  • Brainstorming and conflict resolution strategies
  • Humility and a recognition of the role everyone plays
  • Leadership potential with a desire to work well with others or manage

Why this matters:

With a strong understanding of what drives your candidates, you can better determine if they’ll thrive at your company. This question can reveal a lot about a person’s motivations for pursuing accounting. The best answers include personality traits that complement the work. It will also help you determine if their values align with your organization’s.

What to listen for:

  • Ability to work independently, as well as part of a team
  • Professed ambition and passion for helping others, problem-solving, or learning
  • Interest in math and the finance industry, beyond earning a paycheck
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