6 Things You Must Know Before Interviewing Accountants

13 February 2021 Steve Merritt

Interview Tips

​When it’s time to interview the shortlist of candidates for your vacancy, you need all the help you can get to ensure you eventually make the ‘right’ hire.

Interviewing is a skill, and just because you are in a managerial position, that doesn’t mean that interviewing comes naturally to you.

Likewise, just because you’ve been interviewing for years, this doesn’t mean that your technique doesn’t need honing.

Today, we share 6 tips that you must know to help you make the best possible hire from your shortlist of accounting candidates.

1. Review Your Company Mission and Vision

Companies with the strongest culture attract the best candidates; it’s a fact.

Reviewing your company vision and mission might be a case of refreshing your memory of the values and attributes that your business aspires to, but it could also be a case of rewriting them entirely.

Since the pandemic and the shake-up to businesses that this caused, many companies are finding that their mission and vision has changed – is this true in your business?

For example, in some accounting teams, communication between employees in the form of weekly in-person meetings might have once been an essential part of their business strategy. But since the role of remote working, this is no longer the case.

Does your employer recognise and appreciate the need for flexibility to allow for remote working, which is more vital than ever?

The first thing to do before the interview process starts is to review your company vision and mission statement for our post-pandemic world.

2. Get Familiar with the Job description

In an ideal world, you will have written the job description yourself and inherently understand what you need from your new hire, but this is not always the case.

In larger companies, there can be several people involved in the recruitment process, so it is essential that everyone involved is aware of what you are looking for in your new accounting role and that this is communicated to candidates at every stage.

Especially now in our ever-changing world, the position that you are hiring for might be an entirely new role for the company – do you know the exact skills and attributes that you are looking for?

3. Work to a Method

Interviewing candidates can be an emotionally-charged experience for both the employee and the employer.

Many interviewers by-pass red flags in the interview and go with their ‘gut feeling’ – but this is not the best way to hire the right talent for your accounting team.

For every interview to have the best outcome, you must work to a method and stick to it. This means:

  • Choose your questions carefully and don’t deviate. You can ask extra questions that might crop up in your mind at the end of the planned questions – this gives all candidates a fair interview.

  • Practice your note-taking – taking accurate notes is an essential quality for all interviewers to have.

  • Use a scale to rate candidate answers – you can give a score out of 10, or use ‘excellent’ to ‘poor’ at the end of each answer to remind you when you are looking back over your notes.

​4. Be Compassionate

Interviews can be daunting, and this is something that interviewers and hiring managers can become desensitised to, especially if they have a lot of experience conducting interviews.

Showing compassion and consideration instead of the stony managerial tone some interviewers adopt will benefit both the employee and yourself.

Candidates perform much better in interviews when they feel at ease, and so making sure they feel relaxed is a great way of seeing the real candidate and allowing their best self to shine through.

So, don’t be continually testing the candidate or focusing on negativity and flaws to try and ‘catch them out’. Keep it positive, even if you plan on asking the dreaded ‘what’s your greatest weakness?’ question (we will look at interview questions in the next section).

Take your time, and allow the candidate to take theirs – allow enough time for a good conversation, don’t aim to get them in and out in 20 minutes.

And finally – smile!

5. Get Your Questions Right

There are certain interview question stereotypes, which it is best to avoid if you want better interview outcomes.

There are standard questions that many interviewers ask, such as ‘what will you bring to the role’, ‘tell us what you know about our company’ and of course, ‘what is your greatest weakness’.

But for an outstanding interview, there are some questions to introduce, which can give impressive results.

Try asking the candidate to explain a passion of theirs to you – it can be work-related or not. As this will allow them to demonstrate their communication skills and their passion – it brings them out of their shell and shows you how effective they are at communicating ideas to a layperson.

Another great question right now is to ask how they coped with the Covid-19 crisis, either at home or at work. We all had to make changes to our lives and routines – did they take it in their stride or did they find it hard to adjust quickly to new ways of living and working?

Additionally, aim to curate an interview environment which feels like a conversation rather than an interrogation – this will put candidates at ease and makes the interview experience more pleasant and productive for everyone involved.

6. Candidate Aftercare

Ensure that you treat each candidate, even unsuccessful ones, as you would treat a customer, even after the interview process is over.

This is a great way of looking after your talent pipeline – candidates who are suitable but unsuccessful on this occasion will be inclined to apply again if they come out of the experience with a positive view of your company.

Respond to candidates in a timely manner – this goes for successful and unsuccessful candidates both during and after the interview process.

Encourage unsuccessful candidates to apply again, and you can even keep in touch on LinkedIn, where you can share accounting industry information and updates about your business.

As for the successful candidate – congratulations on your new hire; now it’s time to get them onboarded successfully.

Finally

If you are looking to employ new talent into your accounting tean and you need help attracting the right talent – we can help.

For more information on how we can help you recruit the high-performing individuals you need, get in touch with us on 02 9053 003 or email us here: enquiries@hedleyscott.com.au

Steve Merritt

Managing Director | Hedley Scott Recruitment

Level 12, 64 York Street, Sydney 2000

M: 0404 426 749

E: steve.merritt@hedleyscott.com.au

W: www.hedleyscott.com.au