The Best Questions to Ask Candidates in an Accounting Interview

Choosing the best questions to ask candidates in an accounting interview requires you to think about the goals behind your questions. Your goal shouldn’t be to see who can give you the best answers to the questions. After all, the top candidates will research the most common questions and prepare answers for them before the interview.

Instead, the goal of an interview is to learn about the candidate to see if they are right for the job, and right for your business. At the same time, you want the interview to be a chance for the candidate to understand the role and your company as a whole. The best questions to ask candidates will work toward these goals.

1. What’s Your Background as a Candidate?

Asking a candidate about their background can be somewhat open-ended, but that is part of what makes it a great question. It gives you a glimpse into their accounting experience that is relevant for the role. Additionally, the question gives you an idea of the challenges they’ve faced and their overall career trajectory.

It also allows candidates the opportunity to highlight whatever they feel is most important. This can give you insight into their priorities, as well as their understanding of the role. After all, if they share an experience that is irrelevant to the job duties, this may indicate they don’t quite understand the responsibilities.

2. Do You Have a CPA?

This is a straightforward question with a simple answer. But it can still provide important information. For example, if the job requires a CPA, you will know whether you can eliminate them. But it also gives candidates the chance to mention other relevant certifications.

3. What Are Your Quality Control Methods?

With accounting, a single mistake can have significant consequences. As such, you want all candidates to incorporate quality control into their work.

The ideal candidate will be familiar with various quality control strategies, including cross-checking. The best answers to this question show that the candidate is detail-oriented and motivated to fix any errors that occur.

4. What Fraud Prevention Techniques Have You Used?

Any accounting role will likely come with an expectation of fraud prevention. You want to make sure that your candidates are familiar with the most common methods of doing this. At the very least, you want candidates to have familiarity with various fraud-prevention tools and methods. Ideally, they will have experience with them as well.

5. Describe a Challenge You Faced

This question can be more specific if you want, such as focusing on juggling multiple projects or facing a tight deadline. The goal here is to confirm that the candidate can work under pressure.

It is very common for accountants to have strict deadlines, as well as incredibly busy times of the year where they face very high pressure. You want to confirm that the accounting candidate you hire can handle this. Specifically, look for answers that indicate an ability to delegate and prioritize. If they mention time management techniques, this is a bonus. This question also gives you an idea of the candidate’s overall outlook, such as their ability to see the positive and push through challenges.

Other Questions to Consider 

  1. In what way have you been able to develop your data extraction and manipulation skills? 
  2. Have you been able to step in and improve or design processes within the accounting or finance department?  Please explain. 
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