Whether you’re searching for in-house accounting hires or a long-term outsourcing partner, you need to conduct effective interviews. That means asking a variety of questions—some skills-based and others more creative and personality-related—to elicit the specific insights you need to make a good hiring decision. 


Here are five questions we recommend that can help you assess a candidate’s qualifications, cultural fit, and intelligence.

1. Can you describe a bad professional relationship you’ve had?

This is a common interview question—and for good reason. It will help you understand what the candidate does not like, how they problem-solve, and how resilient they are. Weaker candidates will blame others for the problem they describe and fail to acknowledge their own weaknesses and how they’ve addressed them.  

2. What is one example of a difficult project that you worked through successfully? Please describe it from end to end, including the plan, your role, and any mistakes.

The specificity of this question should help you assess the candidate’s experience, organizational skills, and ability to draw lessons from mistakes. For people in accounting roles, all those qualities are essential.   

3. What’s your favorite non-professional activity?

This is really a question about personality and character, which can help you determine if the candidate is well-rounded and will be a good cultural fit for your business. The question can also help candidates relax as they speak about their passions. 

4. How would your former colleagues describe you?

A balanced answer to this question that acknowledges both positive qualities and areas for growth is a positive sign that indicates self-awareness and maturity.

5. Can you talk about someone you admire a great deal and why?

There is no right answer to a question like this, but it will reveal a great deal about the candidate and what they value. Is the person they admire chosen for being ambitious, brave, moral, wealthy, or kind? Odds are you will find many of the same qualities in the candidate.


Get the support you need

Insero & Co. is a public accounting firm with decades of experience working with businesses and nonprofits of all sizes. Our experts are available to provide consulting and other remote services, including recruiting for accounting hires—whatever you need to help you get through these difficult times.