Man on couch speaking with a woman in office
Graphic that shows three different types of interview questions you should be asking.

Use these questions to identify a candidate’s technical knowledge and abilities

Use these questions to determine how a candidate handled situations in the past

Use these questions to assess a candidate’s personal traits and cognitive skills

Why this matters:

This question evaluates the candidate’s familiarity with commonly used accounting software, which might include Quickbooks, Xero, Sage, and other tools. If you work for an enterprise, they may touch upon ERPs (enterprise resource planning software) such as SAP or Oracle’s NetSuite.

What to listen for:

  • The ideal candidate will demonstrate familiarity with a few key accounting programs—and is not intimidated by new technology, especially if none of the programs are relevant.
  • A great answer will explain the candidate’s reasoning for why they prefer certain tools over others.

Why this matters:

When it comes to compliance, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of meticulous record keeping—or of following pertinent rules and regulations. Great candidates will be able to explain their audit preparation process in detail, giving you the ability to evaluate their strategies for keeping a company’s credits in line with the general ledger—by the book.

What to listen for:

  • Demonstrated understanding of applicable rules and regulations governing accounting procedure.
  • Great answers will point to past experience maintaining filing systems—especially when it comes to aging documents. 

Why this matters:

This question gets back to the basics—and gives your candidate a chance to demonstrate their fluency with the foundational elements of accounting procedures and financial transactions. Candidates should be able to account for all necessary invoice contents, such as descriptions of product sold or service rendered, item quantity, pricing per unit, any discounts offered, payment due date, contact information, and sales tax.

What to listen for:

  • Basic fluency and understanding of basic accounting principles and terminology.
  • A clear understanding of the required invoice components.
  • The ideal candidate may have experience using invoice templates, which is a great sign of efficiency.

 

Why this matters:

Collections can get expensive—and when things go that far, it can reduce the chances you’ll get paid. One of the most important functions of your accounts receivable hire is to stay on top of customer payments so that things do not advance to collections. This involves an awareness of past payment patterns, vigilance with regard to aging AR, and effective communications.

What to listen for:

  • Listen for answers that show the candidate knows how to balance sensitivity to customer circumstances with clarity and assertiveness.
  • A great candidate will have an organized, systematic approach to checking aging AR and getting paid in a timely way.

Why this matters:

It’s important for your accounts receivable professional to have a clear understanding of what makes a potential customer creditworthy, before they allow any sales on credit. Answers to this question will reveal the candidate’s ability to apply key principles and make tough evaluations.

What to listen for:

  • A clear understanding of the credit application process. 
  • The ability to explain the various characteristics of a creditworthy customer.
  • A great answer will recognize the need to familiarize themselves with general AR terms and conditions—before proceeding with the account.

Why this matters:

Day by day, accounts receivable professionals must act on an immense quantity of numerical data. To do so, they have to be able to keep information meticulous, which involves an innate sense of organization and a strong eye for detail.

What to listen for:

  • An emphasis on the importance of organization to their role and a systematic approach to keeping things orderly.
  • Top answers may mention meticulousness and detail orientation—if these are evident, you’ll know that your candidate takes special care to do things accurately.

Why this matters:

Mistakes happen, even to the most cautious and precise of accounts receivable clerks. What’s important is that your new hire catches them quickly, takes responsibility for them, and learns from the error to avoid making the same mistake again.

What to listen for:

  • A sense of accountability toward work care and quality.
  • A proactive approach to reconciling discrepancies.
  • Ideally, candidates should not have made major or repeated errors, and should not get defensive when talking about mistakes.

 

Why this matters:

This question allows you to gauge the candidate’s sense of what it takes to be successful with accounts receivable—and whether those traits fit in with your team culture. Answers will also shed light on the candidate’s work values generally—and how they might fit into your organization’s culture.

 

What to listen for:

  • The best answers will align with your team’s culture and core values.
  • Look for clues into the candidate’s work ethic. Do they take initiative when confronted with complex tasks? Do they express a willingness to work overtime when pressed with strict deadlines?

Why this matters:

Accounts receivable staff dialogue with people outside the finance department regularly. This question primarily assesses the candidate’s communication skills, and their level of comfort with translating accounting and finance concepts in simple terms to colleagues (or customers) who aren’t as fluent in the language of financial spreadsheets and data. 

What to listen for:

  • A level of comfort in discussing finance concepts with laypeople.
  • Signs that the candidate is able to creatively translate high-level or complex information into more generally understandable terms.