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Tips for Interviewing Candidates

Hiring the right accounts staff is an essential ingredient for any successful business. As an employer it’s important that you ask the right questions but also conduct interviews in the right way. Remember, not only are you sizing up the candidate but they are also assessing you as a potential employer. Andrew Weighton offers some helpful tips on how to interview candidates and make the right impression.

Even the most elaborate hiring methodologies eventually boil down to one of the dreaded rituals of business life: the job interview. For most people, the only thing more painful than being interviewed is actually conducting the interview. However, most executive interviewers come to the task unequipped, unprepared, and unenthusiastic. There are ways, though, to make job interviews a more rewarding and successful experience for both parties. Here are some helpful tips that will get you on the fast track to interviewing success.


  1. It’s important for the interviewer to be prepared
  2. Know what it is you’re looking for in a potential employee, compile a list of questions relevant to the job and know the type of person you want
  3. Make sure you read the candidates CV thoroughly and make a note of any queries you have (for example – are there any unexplained gaps in the CV? have they moved around frequently?)

Initial stages of Interview

  1. From the start it’s important to be both friendly and professional towards the candidate. You have to make them feel at ease; offer a firm warm handshake and a friendly smile. If they’re relaxed and comfortable you’re more likely to get the best out of them.
  2. Having said this, you can start assessing them before the formal interview has begun
  3. Take note of their body language (do they maintain eye contact, smile, sit upright etc)
  4. Are they friendly, enthusiastic, do they act like they really want this job?

Interview questions

  1. Always try to use open ended questions that require more than a yes/no answer (what is your motivation for moving job, why did they apply to your company? Why accounting as a career choice?)
  2. Have candidates explain their CV, make sure they go into detail (ask them to explain a typical day’s work?)
  3. Ask them to explain their experience relevant to the job requirements – for example you can ask a technician about creditors/debtors (accounts payable and receivable), bank & cash reconciliations, posting to journals, VAT and Tax returns, payroll procedures? (PAYE and PRSI)
  4. Can they take accounts to TB stage? Have they assisted in month end procedures/preparing management accounts? – having candidates explain this at length gives you the opportunity to assess their technical skills and level of knowledge
  5. Furthermore you can give them a scenario/problem and ask them how they would deal with the situation.
  6. This will give you a chance to assess their ability to ‘think on their feet’ and give you an insight into their thought process
  7. Make sure and ask about software packages, for example if your accounts dept operates SAGE software you need to know if the candidate has used this before? If not, you need to ascertain what packages they have used and to what level?

Closing the Interview

  1. You should give the candidate a chance to ask any questions they may have, the more informed they are about the role the easier it will be to say ‘yes’ to any offer
  2. Find out about their current salary and notice period
  3. It’s also a good idea to learn about other roles and companies they may be interviewing with. Find out what stage they’re at with these interviews as you don’t want to lose a great candidate to the competition!
  4. Tell the candidate when they can expect to have feedback or a decision and make sure you contact them as agreed

2nd Interview

  1. Conducting a 2nd interview is a good way to confirm your initial opinion of a candidate and to deal with any queries or reservations you might have
  2. Make sure another colleague or team member is present as a second opinion will prove useful and if possible have them meet with their potential manager/supervisor to see how they get on

Your staff are your most important asset so it’s imperative you hire the right people first time. By taking the time to prepare and implement a good interview/recruitment process you’ll not only hire the best people but in the long term you’ll save yourself time and money.

Andrew Weighton is a consultant with Accounting Technicians Recruitment, the placement division of Accounting Technicians Ireland. They specialise in the recruitment of accounting technicians and general accounts staff for Ireland’s leading companies in practice, commerce and industry. For further information, please see