5 Questions to Ask at a Finance or Accounting Job Interview

In an interview, the questions you ask are often as important as the answers you give. Here are some questions you will want to prepare for the next time you sit down with an potential employer.

You’ve heard it before: to succeed in a job interview, you need to win over the interviewer not only with great answers, but also with great questions – that is, smart, thoughtful ones of your own that show you’re an engaged, interested, and forward-thinking candidate.

But it’s one thing to know that you’re going to be posed the inevitable, end-of-interview query: “do you have any questions?” It’s another thing altogether, however, to know exactly what questions to pose, once the tables have turned and you find yourself doing the asking.

To help you return serve during your interview, our team at Clarity Recruitment has come up with five questions that candidates should ask to further their chances of being considered.

1. What deliverables should I shoot for in the first 30, 60 and 90 days, respectively?
A prospective employer or hiring manager will typically use the interview to give a broad idea both of what the position entails, and of what skills, qualities, and personality they’re looking for in a successful candidate.

But interviewers tend to be coyer about how precisely a new hire’s performance will be evaluated in the early-going – that is, what specific, concrete benchmarks they’ll need to reach in order to meet expectations and survive beyond the probationary period.

…to succeed in a job interview, you need to win over the interviewer not only with great answers, but also with great questions.

For example, a company may want its new assistant controller to be regularly liasing with upper management on information technology issues, as early as a month into the job. But that may not always be something they spell out upfront.

When starting a new position, it always pays to get some quick wins right away. Making sure you’re totally clear about what’s expected of you – and when – is half the battle.

2. How does this particular role support you?
It’s important to understand where the job you’re after is located on the company totem pole, and how your role would be linked to that of the individual you’d be reporting to (who in most cases will also be the person interviewing you).

Your prospective supervisor will in all likelihood have their own ideas about how a new hire will make their job easier, so be sure to ask them directly about how they see you supporting them. Plus, you’ll likely earn bonus points by exhibiting an appropriate level of deference. 

3. What doesn’t work here?
Instead of asking how you might succeed in the role, try a different tack and ask about how others have struggled in it. Why have previous employees failed to deliver in the job, or at the company?

Everyone and their mother claims to be a team player on their resume. It’s a tired cliché (almost as trite as “I’m a fast learner”).

This will help you draw back the curtain on your employer’s values and preferences in a successful hire. It will also demonstrate to the interviewer that you intend to learn from the mistakes of others, in order to avoid them.

4. Who will the winning candidate be interacting with most regularly, and how are they best supported?
Everyone and their mother claims to be a team player on their resume. It’s a tired cliché (almost as trite as “I’m a fast learner”).

But by inquiring into who you’ll be working with on a regular basis and how you can best serve them, you can go beyond the stock replies about teamwork and show the interviewer that you’re truly committed to the good of the group.

Further, if you do end up getting the job, receiving clarification on this point will help you avoid potential conflicts or misunderstandings with your future colleagues. 

Instead of asking how you might succeed in the role, try a different tack and ask about how others have struggled in it.

5. At the end of the year, what will success in this job look like?
Beyond the preliminary deliverables, it’s important to understand what the employer expects from the winning candidate over the longer haul – after their first, full year, for example, once all the attendant kinks have been worked out and the learning curves mastered.

With the employer painting the picture for you, you’ll be able to visualize how all your skills and experiences could help you reach that landmark.

And hey, if you play your cards right and ask the appropriate questions, the employer may just be picturing you there, too.

Let us know what you think! At Clarity Recruitment, we’re always interested in hearing from accounting and finance professionals like yourselves, who are ready for new, exciting opportunities that can take their careers to the next level. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@clarityrecruits) and connect with us on Facebook for more great tips and advice!