Hiring for specific positions is complicated right now – even when you think you know what you need. Workers have quit their jobs at record rates over the past year, and they’re not necessarily returning. Whether you need an accountant or an astronaut, the pickings have slimmed.
Good candidates are often scarce. Fortunately, there are ways to deal. Namely, behavioral data can help you identify the right fit for a role. And when you know what behaviors lead to success in a role, you can hire with confidence.
Most skills can be taught. A person’s behavioral makeup is less easily molded. So as you seek out an accountant who fits your team and organizational needs, you’ll need to ask the right questions to find the right person.
We’ve got you covered. Wondering how to hire a top-performing accountant? Start with questions that get right at the behaviors and competencies the role requires.
Let’s say your behavioral target indicates this person should be meticulous, task-oriented, and adept at both day-to-day and big-picture risk analysis. Here are five questions you might ask to zero in on this target candidate:
5 interview questions to ask when hiring an accountant
- Tell me about a time you had to communicate with colleagues about available budget or resources.
- How would you go about developing a budget in a constantly changing environment?
- Tell me about a time you were tasked with allocating resources to others with a short turnaround time.
- What factors would prevent you from allocating company resources to low-risk work that takes a long time to complete?
- Tell me about a time you were asked to use a budget following an established procedure you did not agree with.
These behavioral interview questions can quickly confirm or deny your hunches. They help answer a crucial question: Is this person who we think they are?
And since you’ve already identified your job target, a simple “yes” can dramatically reduce your time to hire.
The anatomy of a behavioral interview question
Let’s dissect each of the questions we’ve suggested for the accountant interview:
Tell me about a time you had to communicate with colleagues about available budget or resources.
You’re starting simply. This is a core competency of the job – and you know how this accountant will need to communicate in order to foster strong relationships. The more detail the candidate goes into with their answer, the better idea you’ll get of their style.
How would you go about developing a budget in a constantly changing environment?
Maybe this isn’t how you view your organization, but it’s still important to know how a task-oriented, steady role player handles change. This is a “stretch” question, one that should get them thinking critically. Ideally, their answer also underscores an understanding of how your company and its budgeting process works.
Tell me about a time you were tasked with allocating resources to others with a short turnaround time.
Resource allocation is a key part of any finance department role. Ideally, an accountant has plenty of time to do their job, but in the event they don’t, how would they handle it? This is another “stretch” question, designed to reveal the candidate’s willingness to go beyond their comfort zone. You may not need an elaborate answer, but you’ll feel better knowing they have dealt with tight deadlines before.
What factors would prevent you from allocating company resources to low-risk work that takes a long time to complete?
Here’s an opportunity for the candidate to flex their experience. A good answer will reveal: (a) an understanding of organizational priorities, and (b) a sense for mitigating circumstances. It’s also a hypothetical, so their answer will require them to think on their feet. That may not be an essential trait for all accountants, but it’s helpful to have.
Tell me about a time you were asked to use a budget following an established procedure you did not agree with.
The answer you’re looking for here may vary. But chances are, you’re seeking a candidate who can operate within established guidelines. Whether there’s room for adjusting those guidelines is largely irrelevant – you want to know that the candidate can follow the procedure laid out for them, personal feelings aside.
How PI can help
No two interviews should be the same. Each candidate comes with a unique behavioral makeup, and if you’re doing your homework, those behaviors should align with the target you’ve established for the role.
PI Hire makes each step easier. Buoyed by scientifically validated assessments, our software gives you clarity throughout the hiring process.
Know the right fit for any role, and then nail that hire by tailoring your interview questions accordingly.
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