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Interview Questions For An Accountant II Position

What questions would you ask an accounting candidate to ensure the following: 1. They embrace technology and change 2. They drive tasks to completion 3. Have a learning / curious mentality I am advising in the hiring process and the position will change completely within 3 months of hiring and then again within 3 months when we stand up Hyperion Financial Management. AND in between they will need to master their job and take on tasks to help with the new system. They will need to be able to drive tasks to completion and they may not going in know all the steps. Given that these traits are not very common to accountants in general and/or people who are early in their career . . . THANKS!!!

Answers

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

How bout:

1. What accounting and other system wide systems have the used?
1a. Were they ever part of a company that went thru either an upgrade or implementation ?

There is no right or wrong answer, but it may guage acceptance and experience with multiple systems, even from a pure user point of view.

2. What projects have they been part of, how did it go, what was their role, etc.

3. What was the last Excel function they investigated or learned. This is not an Excel IQ test, it's to see if they seek out new information. Example: On another Proformative link someone mentioned an Excel function EOMONTH. I never used it, so I Googled the function and now understand what it does.

Will I use it, I have no idea, but I was curious nevertheless.

Proformative courses by Wayne Spivak:

Before You Buy That Accounting, ERP, or CRM System...
https://www.proformative.com/courses/accounting-system-gap-analysis-training-course

War Stories - Enterprise System Implementation Wars
https://www.proformative.com/courses/war-stories-enterprise-system-implementation-wars

Kim Hall
Title: Consultant
Company: HWG, Inc.
(Consultant, HWG, Inc.) |

Some ideas:

1. 3 technologies introduced in the last 3 years that will change the world. Why?
2. 3 ways that you embrace technology that is better/different than the average person.
3. When I ask your previous supervisor about your ability to drive tasks to completion and deliver on schedule, what will they say?
4. Tell me about what has changed in your profession life in the last three years and how you managed the change.
5. Tell me about a recent project or process that you made better, faster, smarter or more efficient?
6. You’ve just been assigned to a project involving a new technology. How would you get started?
7. How do you keep your technology skills current?
8. What are your favorite and least favorite technology products, and why?

walid zakria A. Farhat
Title: CFO
Company: GCF
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, GCF) |

Tell me about what has changed in your profession life in the last three years and how you managed the change.

Howard Mannella
Title: Managing Principal
Company: Alternative Resiliency Services Corp
LinkedIn Profile
(Managing Principal, Alternative Resiliency Services Corp) |

Behavioral interviewing techniques can be very helpful in discerning competencies rather than testing knowledge. Competencies can also be exhibited in many life situations not just work. These questions might give you some ideas:

1.Let's talk about a situation where you had to do something you normally do very differently. Please describe the situation, your approach, and what went right and what went wrong

2. Let's talk about the last technology item you learned. Please describe it, the problem it solved, why you chose that particular solution and how it went

3.Let's talk about a time where you were tasked with an additional project outside your nominal responsibilities. Please describe it, how you approached it, why you ma de the decisions you made, and what went right and what went wrong

Hope this sparks some additional ideas. Good luck!

Mike Haile
Title: Founder
Company: Haile Consulting Solutions
(Founder, Haile Consulting Solutions) |

I think that the traits that you are looking for are more common than you think in accountants but obviously not in people early in any career.

If I was in your situation the advice that I would give is to hire a temp/contractor with who can manage the system change, the resultant process changes and then help document these to train the person you need. I suspect that you may have some budget issues with this.

I say this because, reading between the lines, the statement "people who are early in their career" suggests that its a junior role with a low salary. The issue is that the skills required are not consistent with the profile you (or your client) are looking for.

The questions that Wayne & Kim suggested are great. I'll probably use them myself the next time I'm interviewing.

Good luck!

Mustafa Ali
Title: Consultant
Company: iConsult Businesses
LinkedIn Profile
(Consultant, iConsult Businesses) |

After reading through all the great suggestions, my two cents; be upfront, tell them what's in store for this position, and ask if they are more comfortable working in a rapidly changing environment or they prefer a routine work environment.

Good luck

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

Here is my two cents....(with Mustafa's other 2)

I would move away from an "interview" perspective and move closer to a "CONVERSATION" perspective. The thing I do NOT like with the interview perspective is that it is a "question and answer" scenario and answers are GIVEN whether they are truth or not. The conversation perspective gives IMPRESSIONS or READINGS. The only question you should ask are clarifications of those impressions or readings and maybe an explanation of why those impressions are right or wrong.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

But isn't a conversation made up of Q&A's? It is the tone or timbre of the way the Q&A's are asked/answered that really changes the meeting.

By the way, I agree. An interview is too much a black and white technique, and we live in a world of technicolor (or at least grey's).

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

Wayne, I may have worded my response differently but I think we are on the same page.

I would also reiterate that the "interview" is a two way street. The "applicant" is also deciding if he/she want to work for you/company. He/she may NOT ask alot of questions, but he/she is taking in a lot of impressions.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

Agreed Emerson..

Anonymous
(Tax/Business Consultant) |

Basically...
I'd ask if the candidate is willing to adopt/learn newer technology AND it does Not have to be a Younger candidate!
"... people who are early in their career." is something that I'd avoid as that thinking is already [AGE] Biased and that it sounds like a low level position.

For adoption of a new tech system by a company, it's best to remember that Not everyone Knows All or even Most software that's available in many businesses. To think that many candidates know many softwares used is arrogance and ignorance.

Open the mindset that you want to hire something who's willing to learn and grow with the company... training!... instead of looking for the 'perfect' candidate which there is literally none.

Remember that the interview process is a 2 way street...
it's not just the employer looking at the candidate..
the candidate is looking at the employer!

Ross Anderson, CPA, MBA
Title: Controller
Company: TFS Capital
(Controller, TFS Capital) |

Unfortunately, it's really tough to tell who will be an office innovator or an office dud that just does things as told and doesn't put a thought into it. Have a conversation about the topic and don't just ask questions. Try to drill down and get their insight on their approaches to technology and how they use it in the workplace. Try to work in questions as the conversation flows. Address things like initiative and projects they have led or looked for new technology to improve office efficiency. Try to see if you can gauge how much the come in and try to think of ways change things up. See if you can get some related stories from them.

Anonymous
(Consultant) |

Used the question: 3 ways that you embrace technology that is better/different than the average person.

Well, it worked. The candidates response was a clear indication that he was NOT comfortable with change. He discussed how difficult/dangerous change was and that you must test, test, test and have a back up plan to roll back.

Not much embracing technology in that answer. BTW, that did not necessarily disqualify him. Those are true. BUT the question was about embracing and the red flag is that he either did not understand the question (listening skill issues) and/or does not embrace technology.

The disqualifier came when he was asked: Tell me about a recent project or process that you made better, faster, smarter or more efficient. He couldn't come up with anything.

Moving on to the next candidate. And that only took 10 minutes.

Anonymous
(Consultant) |

Thanks for all the suggestions! I think they helped immensely. Excited to report that we made an offer to a candidate and are very hopeful.

Interestingly, he had a school project on his resume that indicated a deep interest/appreciation in Accounting Technology. His accounting technology interest and the fact that he worked at a AT&T store for 3 years while going to school put him to the head of the group. Interestingly, he had the least direct accounting experience. And those are easily teachable.

The CFO and his future boss were tempted to make an offer on the spot. I think that was the level of confidence he brought with him. I think the sales position was the key to this . . .

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