Ask These 4 Questions to Hire The Right Candidate

Posted 03/28/19 Brendan Pon

Lannick, a Vaco Company’s, Brendan Pon, Senior Manager, Client Services, provides tips on asking the right questions to hire the best candidate for the job. 

Hiring is difficult. Organizations invest a lot of time and resources to identify, attract, screen, and hopefully onboard the best candidate to join their teams. In this red-hot finance and accounting candidate market, having an effective hiring process is crucial for hiring the best talent. One of the most important elements of any hiring process is the interview; it’s a make-or-break moment for candidates and hiring managers alike. For both parties, it’s imperative that they use this time to ask the right questions and really zero in on what matters – cultural and technical fit.

As a Client Services Associate at Lannick, I have worked alongside dozens of hiring managers and sat in on hundreds of interviews. Over the years, I’ve seen candidates with average resumes shine in interviews, and conversely, seen candidates with incredible resumes fall apart in an interview setting. I’ve also witnessed a candidate have a great interview with one hiring manager at an organization, and a not-so-great one with a different manager at the same company.

The approach the hiring manager takes can have a huge impact on the success of any interview. Keep in mind that “success” doesn’t necessarily mean identifying the candidate you will be hiring. An interview can also be considered a success if it allows a hiring manager to confidently eliminate a prospective candidate from the running. Remember, a lot of effort has already been put into identifying the candidates you are meeting with, so you’ll want to refine the list by asking a series of strategic questions.

4 Interview Questions To Hire The Right Candidate

1) ASK YOURSELF: Are they qualified and do they have the skill set to do the job?

The very essence of any interview is to assess whether this person is capable of performing the responsibilities and duties of the position. Is it required to check off all of the points on the job description, or, are there areas that are vital and those that can be grown into? Of course, any candidate that you do end up meeting with should have already been pre-screened by your recruiter, so hopefully they did a good job and you aren’t spending 60 minutes with someone who is under qualified!

Ask the Candidate:

  • “Tell me about your specific role in the month-end close process in your current organization.”
  • “What is your experience researching technical accounting standards such as IFRS 9 & 15”

2) ASK YOURSELF: Will they fit in well with the team?

You will likely be spending more time during the week with this person than with your family at home. Will this person enhance the current dynamic or will they throw off the balance? You know your company culture best, so spend ample time assessing this. I recommend meeting with your finalist candidate(s) on at least two separate occasions – you’ll be surprised by how your first impressions can change or be confirmed during your second meeting! One of my clients goes a step further and even brings their finalist to a team lunch to get to know everyone. Involving peers in the hiring process is encouraged as you can see the team dynamics first-hand. Lastly, keep in mind that screening for fit is very subjective. Ask open-ended questions and see where the candidate goes with it.

Ask the Candidate:

  • “Tell me about yourself.”
  • “How would others describe you?”

3) ASK YOURSELF: What is motivating this person to consider this opportunity?

No candidate will ever admit to it in an interview, but chances are they’re considering an opportunity because it offers a pay-bump. While compensation is a fair reason for changing jobs, it’s the other motivators that are important to understand. There are a variety of “push” and “pull” factors that would lead a candidate to be sitting across the table from you. It’s your job to determine what is important to the candidate, and if that aligns will with your company-values. Are they actively seeking a new role (meaning you aren’t the only option they have) or was this opportunity presented to them to consider? Your recruiter can verify this for you as well.

Ask the Candidate:

  • “What interested you about this opportunity?”
  • “Why are you considering leaving your current job?”
  • “What factors have the biggest impact on your happiness at work?”

4) ASK YOURSELF: How much do they know about the position and the organization?

While interviews are a great opportunity for candidates to gain additional information about the expectations surrounding a particular role, they should already have a basic understanding of the role and the company at the very minimum. Before any of my candidates interview with my clients, I have a prep call with them to ensure that they are aware of a few essentials things, including the reason why the position is open, the duties of the position, progression opportunities, the team reporting structure, and the selling features of the organization. Ideally, the interview should be more conversational rather than one-sided, and a well-informed candidate should allow for that to happen.

Ask the Candidate:

  • “What is your understanding of this role within the Finance team?”
  • “What interests you about this company?

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Keep in mind that while you are trying to assess whether this person is a good fit for your company, they are doing the same. In this red-hot candidate market, you must keep in mind that it’s common for candidates to be meeting with multiple companies simultaneously. Remember to share all of the positives of your organization. You are selling the opportunity as much as you are screening for it.

Happy Hiring!

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