The Art of Interviewing Part 1 – Accounting & Finance


As a Portland staffing agency, we help managers craft the right interview questions to uncover top talent for roles in Accounting, Finance, Engineering, IT and Human Resources.

Conducting interviews is one of your most important duties as a hiring manager. Asking the right questions and active listening can offer valuable insights into a candidate's experience, worth ethic, personality, and hard and soft skills.

Our 4-part blog series covers the most important job interview questions for hiring managers to ask candidates in a job interview in 2024 and beyond.

Here is what we’re covering:

  • All parts - General Interview Questions
  • Part 1 - Accounting & Finance
  • Part 2 - Engineering
  • Part 3 - Information Technology
  • Part 4 - Human Resources

  • Use these industry-specific questions as a starting point and pay close attention to the candidate's responses to learn more about them. You can spot exceptional talent for your team that is ready to succeed with careful planning and attentive listening.

    General Interview Questions
    1. Take me through your resume. What skills and experience do you have that best suit you for this position? This question allows candidates to highlight skills and experience that may not come up otherwise. Pay attention to instances of measurable hard and soft skills that are relevant to the position. This might serve as a rough indicator of qualifications.

    2. How would your former employer characterize your work style and areas of strength? This behavioral question gives insight into how previous managers felt about working with the candidate.

    3. Describe a situation at work when you made a mistake and how you handled it. When you ask about a candidate’s mistakes their answer reveals their character, level of accountability, and whether they have a growth mindset. Look for candidates that learn from their mistakes and avoid repeating them.

    4. Where do you see your career in 5 years? Career goals reveal a candidate's drive and long-term employment potential. Strong performers looking for growth opportunities are often those that are focused on picking up new skills and taking on more responsibility.

    5. What questions do you have for me about the role or company? When a candidate asks thoughtful, well-researched questions, it shows they're thinking ahead and planning for how they can contribute to the organization. Good questions give insight into a candidate’s level of preparation, inquisitiveness and demonstrates their initiative.

    Accounting Interview Questions
    Here are some of the best accounting interview questions for managers to gain insights into a candidate's technical skills, communication abilities, ethics and more.

    1. Walk me through the steps of the accounting cycle. This question puts the candidate’s fundamental technical skills to the test. Pay attention to how accurately the cycle's key steps—including recording transactions, adjusting entries, financial statements, closing entries, and trial balances—are described. Gaps indicate a lack of understanding.

    2. How would you respond if you discovered an error on one of your financial statements? Transparency and ethics are essential in accounting. Pay attention to which candidate’s take responsibility, who communicates clearly, and who fixes mistakes.

    3. What qualities do you think are most important for an accountant? In the field of accounting, it's crucial to have soft skills like organization, communication, ethics, critical thinking, and attention to detail. Look for applicants who have a broad perspective.

    4. How do you stay up to date on accounting rules and guidelines? Continuous learning is necessary for accounting. Look for candidates who regularly read professional journals, enroll in courses, and create mentoring ties. Outdated skills are a warning sign.

    5. How would you describe an accounting topic to a coworker who is not an accountant? Collaboration and communication skills are essential. Pay attention to how the candidate is able to simplify and concisely present complex issues for non-accounting professionals. This is especially important in cross-functional partnerships.

    Finance Interview Questions
    The following finance interview questions for managers will reveal how candidates approach financial modeling, analysis, problem-solving and handling high-pressure roles.

    1. Take me through a DCF analysis. This question tests the candidate’s knowledge of financial modeling fundamentals. Pay attention to how accurately the various elements—such as cash flow forecasts, discount rates, terminal value, and sensitivity analysis—are detailed. Gaps show a lack of proficiency in financial analysis.

    2. How would you evaluate a new investment or business proposal? Look for people who can anticipate expenses and revenues, calculate ROI, examine payback periods, evaluate risks, and compare projections to industry benchmarks.

    3. Describe a situation when you had to deal with missing data. Resourcefulness is essential in finance. When ideal data is unavailable, pay attention to how a candidate would use the data that is already available to make appropriate assumptions without relying too much on perfect data.

    4. When evaluating financial statements, what do you look for? Analysis of financial statements is essential. Pay attention to KPIs including liquidity ratios, profitability, leverage, and cash flow. Look for someone who can weigh deeper dives and trend evaluations with surface outcomes.

    5. How do you prioritize projects with competing deadlines? In high-pressure finance roles, juggling priorities is part of the job. Listen closely for time management techniques including assessing urgency, importance, and workload. Don't make excessive promises.

    The best hiring decisions are made when the right interview questions are used in conjunction with active listening. To create insightful questions that uncover top talent qualified for your roles, use the examples in our blog.

    Pay close attention to the candidate’s answers to understand if their background, knowledge, and skills have prepared them for success in your organization. These interview tips will help you make hiring decisions and recruit top professionals who are prepared to contribute from day one.

    Does your interview process accurately identify top talent? Let our staffing experts help you craft targeted questions that reveal ideal candidates. Contact us today!