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 may be willing to spend longer training them on your software if they possess desirable skills in other areas. 

What to listen for:

  • Answers may mention software like Hyperion, Microsoft Dynamics GP, and Oracle Enterprise Manager
  • Ideally, candidates will have experience using your company’s preferred software, or be willing to learn

Why this matters:

To protect your company from fraudulent activity, accountants need to 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.

What to listen for:

  • Candidates should be familiar with a range of fraud prevention practices, tools, and software
  • Ideal candidates will have hands-on experience deploying strategies like surprise auditing
  • Top answers will demonstrate an appropriate level of concern and ethical judgment

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. 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:

  • A strong answer will reveal that the candidate is extremely detail-oriented
  • Look for familiarity with specific quality control strategies, such as cross-checking
  • Great candidates will be motivated 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 things. If they get busy, they must be able to delegate to avoid becoming overwhelmed. 

What to listen for:

  • Great candidates will maintain a positive outlook in the face of a challenge
  • Look for signs that they can prioritize and delegate effectively to avoid dropping any balls
  • Listen for references to time management techniques, like planning their day in advance

Why this matters:

Cutting costs is an important part of the job, so a good accountant should be able to share lots of examples of how their efforts impacted the bottom line—like helping their company to develop a more tax-efficient plan. If they have spotted opportunities like these in the past, they’re likely to be a major asset to your company. 

What to listen for:

  • Listen for answers that show the candidate went beyond simple bookkeeping and actively sought to save the company money
  • Candidates must feel comfortable sharing their ideas with business leaders
  • Top answers will reveal a true dedication to going above and beyond

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 and quickly resolve them, rather than laying blame. 

What to listen for:

  • Candidates should demonstrate a constructive approach to solving problems
  • Answers should reflect on what they learned from the experience
  • A major error could be a red flag—as could answers that claim they’ve never made a mistake

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:

  • Evidence that the candidate is comfortable discussing financial concepts with both business leaders and laymen
  • Signs that the candidate can translate complex information into simple terms 
  • A willingness to help people understand, without becoming frustrated

 

Why this matters:

Top candidates 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 not just fit in with the team culture at your company, but bring unique skills to make it better.

 

What to listen for:

  • Great answers may discuss brainstorming and conflict resolution strategies
  • Look for humility and a recognition of the role everyone played
  • Pay attention to answers that show strong leadership potential, as these candidates may shape up to be great managers and leaders

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. It will also help showcase if their values align with your organization’s.

What to listen for:

  • Great answers will reveal the candidate’s ambition and passion for their work
  • Ideally, candidates will show genuine interest in math and the finance industry, not just the stability and paycheck that come with this career
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