Tips from the recruitment professionals

A resume is the gateway to an interview invitation. After all, that’s its ultimate purpose: to land your accountant candidates a face-to-face opportunity to prove themselves.

Whether you’re using an accounting recruitment agency for your interviews, or keeping this component in-house, it’s important to think differently. Times have changed – now is not the time for keeping to traditions! Move forward with creative approaches and innovative styles.

Here are a few tips from recruitment professionals to help modernise your interviewing techniques:


Choose a non-conventional interview setting

Forward-thinking companies now think about the traditional interview in fresh ways. Afterall, there are many ways we can gain insight into a candidate. We don’t need to tie ourselves to the stereotype of a panel of interviewers sitting opposite the poor candidate, who is flanked only by a jug of water and a lonely glass.

Why not think about these options:

  • Consider starting with a casual pre-interview informal chat. It could be over coffee, or a walking-meeting, or an online video call. Hold these meetings about a week before the formal interviews. You’ll gain trust and your candidates will perform better.
  • Companies are now using relaxed environments instead of formal settings for their interviews. Options include in cafes over coffee, and even in restaurants over lunch.

This trend is based on the realisation that companies need to know their employees in the real-world setting. You’ll see more genuine self-expression and their personality will shine through when you engage candidates in comfortable settings. A brilliant accountant should just be able to answer a set of interview questions about financial systems and processes. They also need to be able to create valuable relationships, need to be trustworthy, and must align with your company’s culture.


Ask better interview questions

You might be surprised by how many companies still lean on the old-fashioned questions such as: tell us your greatest weaknesses; tell us a time when you’ve had to handle conflicting priorities. These are quite predictable to candidates, so you should expect they have a pre-rehearsed answer that portrays them in the best light. The prepared responses don’t usually shed reveal your candidates’ real weaknesses or their actual reaction to conflicting priorities.

Situational questions that ask: ‘give an example of a time when you…’ are also flawed for the same reason. These are loaded questions that are asking for a success story or a positive illustration of their abilities. Not an example of failure or negative outcomes. The hand-plucked positive answers are not necessarily a good predictor of future actions.

Improve your questions by going deep into an example of their own work. Dive into their accounting background and examples of actual reporting projects that illustrate how they approach their work. Keep asking further pointed questions: what deadlines were set, did they meet them, what challenges did they face, what aspect did they enjoy? You’ll gain a whole-picture insight.


Think differently about second interviews

If you’re impressed with the first interview, you might want to consider a second stage that’s more activity driven. Equally, if you weren’t impressed in the first interview but you think the candidate may have simply succumbed to interview nerves, go for a real-world second stage interview.

Here are some options to be able to see your candidate in action:

  • Set them a real-world mini-project or financial reporting task based on some real data.
  • Have them come in and work in your office for a day.

Not only will you see their accounting expertise first-hand, you’ll observe secondary skills like communication and negotiation, as well as traits like adaptability and motivation. It also gives candidates insight into what it’d be like working in your company – you’re more likely to retain a new hire if they know what they’re in for.

An ethical approach is to pay for the candidate for their time on mini-projects or in-office hours. This will be far less costly than hiring the wrong candidate, so budget it into your recruitment costs.


Final word: Be modern with your approach

If you implement these tips, you’ll secure those highly valuable candidates who appreciate innovative and collaborative approaches to recruitment. If you’re engaging a specialised accounting recruitment firm, you’ll have direct access to modern interview techniques and approaches. Enhancing your interview process will help you achieve the best recruitment outcome.

Find out more about specialised accounting recruitment:

Blue Diamond Recruitment is a boutique firm that is ethical, flexible, and values collaborative long-term relationships with clients who are searching for exceptional accounting talent. Contact Blue Diamond Recruitment to learn how we can help your business excel.