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Interviewing for Finance & Accounting Roles: Four Questions a Candidate Should Ask

Interviewing for Finance & Accounting Roles: Four Questions a Candidate Should Ask

Author: Thomas Vick/Tuesday, October 23, 2018/Categories: SNI Companies, SNI Financial, SNI Certes, Accounting Now

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Effective interview preparation for an interviewee not only involves rehearsing answers to anticipated questions, but also preparing well-thought out questions to ask the interviewer(s). While the concept of being ready for this meeting seems obvious, it is surprising how often interviewees arrive without questions or comments to contribute to the discussion. Starting points for generating discussion-provoking questions can be found through researching the company’s history, industry, culture, and most importantly, the role for which you are interviewing. Here are four questions candidates interviewing for financial roles should ask in an interview.

How do you define the company’s financial success?

This is an overarching question that can lay the groundwork for further discussion as to how the role contributes to measuring that success. Not only is this important information to know before stepping into the position, but this very direct inquiry demonstrates great initiative. Managers are keen to find candidates who will ask bold questions to then display how they can contribute to the organization’s success. You need to understand how the company measures success in this area. Are there previous numbers they can show you to exemplify how the organization is currently performing? Can the forecast for the current fiscal year be shared with you to grasp how they are monitoring performance?

What does success of this role look like at 30, 60 and-90 days?

Discussing how the organization measures financial success creates a nice segway into how the success of someone in this role will be measured in the coming months. Introducing this topic displays eagerness to jump into the fire, desire to establish credibility and willingness to be held accountable from day one.

To elaborate on this point even further, explore the idea of creating your own 30/60/90 day plan prior to the interview, showing how your experience to date can benefit the finance team greatly. Taking this initiative will go a long way in the eyes of decision-makers, even if the plan isn’t perfect. Use this time to request feedback from the hiring manager; not only will this “wow” the interviewer, but it will also allow you to better understand standards of this role in a different light.

What are the biggest challenges awaiting this role?

Inquiring about challenges that may lie ahead demonstrates a desire to get a complete and realistic picture of the role. What unexpected obstacles may be on the horizon for the person who steps into this role? How can the person taking over this position prepare in advance? How much influence can the person in this role have in perhaps making changes that mitigate those challenges? These will show your diligence in understanding every angle of the role, and hopefully, bring the conversation to a new level.

Are there additional responsibilities for this role not listed on the job description?

Often, job postings are limited to only primary responsibilities, followed by high-level descriptions. It is important to know every responsibility that will or can fall on your plate. A topic that is frequently not included in formal job descriptions involves responsibilities of direct reports. How many people report to the role? What are their responsibilities? What are some of the challenges that have been part of the team of direct reports? Another job description-related question is whether there is potential for the job description to significantly change in the next 12 to 18 months. Details like this are not explained in a written job description, so these are great points to bring up during the interview.

Above all, remember to fully research the organization before your interview. For an accounting or finance role, demonstrate your knowledge of all current financial changes pertaining to businesses and how they can affect the organization. Lastly, know the company’s strengths and their biggest competitors; don’t be afraid to bring this up in the interview. The more you know about the organization, the industry and the market in which it operates, the more attractive you will appear to the hiring manager.

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Thomas Vick
Thomas Vick

Thomas Vick

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