Tips for Interviewing Contract Accountants

It’s your worst-case scenario. Angela, your seasoned financial analyst, is leaving and taking her 8 years of company experience with her.  Couple this with some tight deadlines and you need to hire a contract accountant ASAP.  But approaching this from the perspective of a permanent hire can derail your chances of success.  With that in mind, here are some tips for interviewing contract accountants.

Manage Expectations
Angela didn’t start out as a rock star.  Over the last 8 years she grew in the role to what she is now.  Trying to find another Angela, therefore, is like trying to hit a bull’s-eye, while blindfolded, and listening to “It’s a Small World” play repeatedly in the background – an almost impossible undertaking.  Instead, hire for core skills.  You’ll have a much greater chance of finding the right contract accountant if you do.

Resource: Want to make sure that you don’t hire a bad finance or accounting contractor? Then download “12 Flags to Watch for When Interviewing Accounting Contractors.”

Assess Technical Skills
This is a contract role, and as such concerns around cultural fit shouldn’t be as important.  Yes, you will be working with them for 8 hours a day, but only for a short window.  Can they do what you need them to do from a technical perspective?  If you pass on the person who can do the job, how quickly are you going to be able to find someone else?

Read:  “Top 3 Interview Questions for a Contract Accountant” for specific interview questions to use during your hiring process.

Move Quickly
Don’t interview your contract accountant using the same process you would use for a permanent role.  Remember, it is likely that after leaving your interview your prospective hire will be interviewing with 3 other possibilities.  It is unlikely, therefore, that your regular process involving personality assessments and multiple interviews will mesh with the timeline of a contract hire.

The Optimal Stopping Theory
You’re looking for a parking spot at your local shopping mall.  After passing 20 filled spots, you find one that is open, but it’s not exactly what you want.  It’s not close enough to the door, and so you carry on.  You’re hoping that the next spot is better, but it might not be.  Realistically, the other parking space would have been just fine.

In contract, perfect doesn’t exist.  It’s all about finding the most optimal solution within the time constraints that you have.

Pro Tip: When interviewing for a contract role, hire the first person you meet that has both the technical and communication skills necessary to do the role.  Time is of the essence.

Key Takeaways
When interviewing contract accountants focus on technical skills over cultural fit. Remember, that the person you are interviewing today will likely not be available tomorrow. Keep your expectations realistic and understand that contract positions move quickly.

Your Next Step
No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

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