When most accounting professionals think about the complexity of interviewing, they focus on the challenges facing the person being interviewed. However, the hiring manager hosting the interview has hurdles to overcome too.
From avoiding unconscious bias to selling your candidates on the idea of working with your accounting company, there are several important points to keep in mind.
Here are some of the top strategies to follow as an accounting hiring manager if you’re concerned you might not be getting the most out of your interviews.
1. Know Your Interview Options
The first step in ensuring you can master your interviews as a hiring manager is knowing what methods you can use to connect with candidates.
Today, the face-to-face interview isn’t your only option. Video interviews have increased by 67% recently due to the pandemic and the rise of remote work. As hybrid employment options continue to thrive and companies look for ways to streamline the interviewing process, video conversations will likely grow more common.
There’s also the option for simple phone interviews too.
Each type of interview has its own challenges to consider. For instance:
In-person interviews: You’ll need to think about where you’re going to host your interview, whether it’s a welcoming space, who will attend, and whether the candidate will present or not.
Video interviews: Consider what kind of video meeting service you’ll be using, the background you’ll have in your video, and how you can present yourself as professionally as possible over a webcam.
Phone interviews: Ask yourself whether you may need to record phone interviews to go back over them later and how you can ensure you get a good idea of what the candidate is like based on voice alone.
2. Avoid Inappropriate Questions
Inappropriate questions are more common than you would think in accounting interviews. While certain topics of conversation can feel like polite small talk at first, they often cause more problems than you’d think. For instance, asking people about what they did on the weekend can create an unconscious bias if you also have a shared hobby.
Unconscious bias could favour one candidate over another because you like certain things about their lifestyle or personality, which have nothing to do with the role.
3. Interview Style and Format
There are many different kinds of interviewing techniques today’s business leaders and hiring managers can use, including competency-based or collaborative interviews, presentations and group interactions.
Interviews are always best performed with two people from the hiring company, which can help avoid bias.
Consider using a first and second stage format before the final decision. In today’s environment, many first and second stage interviews can take place over Zoom or MSTeams.
4. Standardise Your Interview Questions
Standardising your interview questions makes it easier to assess your candidates when you have interviewed several people for a role. It also means you’re less likely to allow unconscious biases to get in the way of your hiring decisions because you’re evaluating everyone based on the same set of guidelines, criteria and questions.
Create specific competency-based interview questions for the specific accounting role in question, which allows you to score each potential employee based on their specific values, behaviours and results. For instance, you can ask questions, share examples of times they’ve acted as a leader or shown exceptional teamwork, and then make notes about their responses. Assigning scores to answers will also help you see who you should be shortlisting.
Your interviews need to maintain a level of flexibility. It will be logical to ask follow-up questions to elicit more detail at times.
“Tell me more about X or Y or why you decided to do B or C” are classic follow-up questions that work.
5. Make Notes and Follow Up
Finally, make sure you take notes as often as possible as you progress through the interview. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of the conversation and then forget everything you needed to know about the candidate when you come back to review later.
Always set aside some time at the end of each accounting interview to gather your thoughts and catalogue what stood out to you most about the candidate (good and bad). This information should accompany your scores for various standardised questions.
Making notes can also help when you’re following up with your candidates by allowing you to provide a more contextual and relevant message.
Showing you remember what you said (like any requirements for starting dates) shows the potential candidate you’re invested in working with them.
Remember, if you’re struggling with your accounting interviewing process, it’s often helpful to seek some help from a specialist recruitment company like ourselves that can help with a lot more than just finding you new candidates – they can also give you advice on how to interview more effectively, with tips on questions you might need to ask.
Managing Director | Hedley Scott Recruitment