Asking Good Interview Questions in the Accounting Staffing Industry

Mid adult businessman interviews prospective female employee


If you’re like us, you have that ongoing dilemma because your staffing agency hires contract workers and consultants and may make direct placements. Some candidates whom you interview must fit a client’s organization for a limited time while others are hired with the expectation that they will stay as long as possible. For recruiters, it’s difficult to find the right cultural fit, but this matters above most other aspects of the process. In this post, we comment briefly on cultural fit and recommend four interview questions that apply to accounting professionals.

The Question of Cultural Fit

People want to fit into the culture of a company because they will spend more time with their co-workers than they will with their family during a typical week. Recruiters can broach this topic, but it’s usually on the recruit’s mind, especially when he debates between offers from several companies.

The Background for the Recruiter

As recruiters, we feel a lot of pressure. We would like to think that we can ask tough questions of candidates when they’re sitting in front of us. It’s easy to use the same set of questions for all candidates vying for one position. If we limit ourselves to a list, we don’t always get the details that we need from each candidate. For example, we may have to write down their canned answers and then run out of time for asking spontaneous questions. We might not have time for candidates to describe how they are adaptable to a position related to their background. If we will invest time in interviewing, we should use compelling questions like these:

1. What can you do for the company that others can’t? This is a question that zeroes in on a candidate’s understanding of the organization and her prior review of the job posting. She should be able to describe her qualifications related to the department and link her past experience to this job. If she has specialized skills that weren’t called for in the posting, this will give her a chance to mention them.

2. What is your favorite role when you work as part of a team? Some recruits will interview directly for leadership roles, and others will be team players or be expected to assume support roles. However, this question helps to identify candidates who can be part of a team and be flexible based on the project to which they are assigned. Look for a candidate who will take the job seriously and feel accountable to the team for his contributions.

3. How important is compliance in the accounting business? People with backgrounds in accounting or bookkeeping document an organization’s activities and help its leadership comply with government regulations. Some positions require people who can routinely apply rules and procedures so that the firm stays within the letter of the law, and others require people who are more critical, usually because they can easily interpret industry standards and handle gray areas. You get lucky when you find candidates who are strong in rule application and interpretation of ethical dilemmas.

4. How can you use technology to improve an organization’s efficiency and competitive advantage? Honestly, many jobs such as bookkeepers, accounting clerks, and accountants are changing because of the automation of business activities and the rise of artificial intelligence. Recruiters hope to find true knowledge workers who can manipulate software to enhance their employer’s competitive position. They should describe their present tech skills and how they might help an organization make better tech adoptions in the future.

Asking compelling interview questions takes some thought. We understand the need to get through interviews and make placements within a client’s deadline, but remember to spend a few minutes assessing each recruit’s fit for that organization’s particular culture. Accounting staffing requires that you find people who can work in different types of teams and under a lot of pressure or their projects won’t reach the market on time. For more on technology staffing trends, please contact us today.