If you’re a business owner, one of the most daunting tasks can be locating an accounting service. You may have done the books yourself at the start, but as your operation grows, your accounts should scale with it.
Most of your focus is needed elsewhere, so you’re likely to decide you have to hire someone to serve as accountant for your company. You might hire one to work internally if you have the funds to do so and the nature of your business demands an on-site accountant.
But you could outsource your accounting needs to a company that specializes in small business accounting instead. In addition, cloud-based accounting programs can do your books for you, and the information is always available in real time for your reference.
No matter how you choose to hand off your accounting needs, you’ll want to use accounting professionals who have your best interests in mind. Approach the hiring process with a handful of key interview questions.
You may use the list of questions below, and the answers you want to hear, to help you select the best accounting specialists for your needs.
1. How do you ensure your accounting process matches current accounting standards?
The learning curve is broad for accountants who enter a brand-new workplace and answer its questions correctly and accurately, but also have to keep up with constant changes in modern accounting. Technological developments require that accountants stay on top of the curve at all times; if an accounting professional drops the ball, your operations will suffer.
So, in response to this question, you want to hear that the accountant or team constantly looks to improve their knowledge. They might be enrolled in continuing education courses, show you certificates for training in recent accounting technologies, or subscribe to professional accounting journals.
2. Which accounting software do you know? Which one is your preferred software?
It’s great if you can find an accounting professional who’s familiar with the software you already use. But it’s even better if you identify someone who’s sufficiently savvy with a range of software programs that they can embrace a new one and learn it quickly.
Answers to this question will vary. Your candidates might say they’re experts in Microsoft Dynamics GP, QuickBooks, IBM, Excel, or other popular options. What you want to hear is that they’re likely to be adaptable to any required software.
3. What type of accounting do you specialize in?
As a small business owner, you’re probably looking for a general accountant who can cover your accounts receivable, accounts payable, balance sheets, income statements, cash flow statements, and other financial statements to keep your records in top shape.
You’re likely to find this among accountants who have worked in small business settings before, but it’s also nice to hire an accounting professional who specializes in operations where you might be lacking. For example, if your payroll is out of control, it would be wise to locate an accountant who specializes in that particular function.
4. Have you worked for small firms before?
The differences between large and small business accounting are vast. A small-business professional will have to wear many hats while a large-business specialist might have worked in a single department. You should focus on applicants who are prepared to take on all the work your company will require.
5. Describe a challenge you faced at your last job. How did you overcome it?
The answer to this question will illustrate the applicant’s problem-solving abilities. Ideally, they’ll be able to recount an accounting experience they had and how they were able to resolve it with minimal damage. The answers will vary; they could involve anything from handling a communication issue to learning how to use new software.
6. Can you give me examples of the types of reports you generated in your last job?
Each company runs reports for different purposes. Find out if the applicant is capable of generating the reports you need for your firm.
For example, if you require monthly financial statements that show incoming cash flow and outgoing expenses, a suitable applicant will cite this type of report. You might also ask about reports you’d like to run but haven’t yet been able to.
7. Why do you want to work with us?
It’s always worthwhile to inquire after an applicant’s motivations, whether you’re interviewing an entire firm or an individual. The answer to this question will provide insight into what the applicant wants to get out of the job and how well they may integrate into your team.
As an example of a bad answer, the applicant might simply answer that they want your business. This response is vague and generic, but it also suggests they’re only there for the money.
You want someone who seeks to be part of something bigger, and to help you to achieve your financial goals and build your company. The paycheck should remain on the back burner.
8. Describe for me several types of special journals
Here’s a simple question designed to weed out the individual applicants who aren’t experienced enough to work for you. The ideal candidate will look at a journal entry or two from your company and explain what they see there.
They should also be able to identify any mistakes or omissions you might purposely include to test their skills. This is a simple and highly effective skills test that will help you weed out the applicants who are not suitable for the position. The confidence they display in completing this task will tell you what you need to know about their ability to do the job.
9. What is your preferred method of communication and how do you communicate with your employer?
Communication problems between employers and accounting departments are one of the prime causes of financial errors. You may be nervous about handing off your books to a staff member who has not been there from the beginning, even if they are highly competent.
You need to know they’ll keep you constantly in the loop with regular reports, email updates, face-to-face discussions, and any other form of contact you deem necessary.
10. What are the top three skills of a great accountant?
Before you ask this question, identify what you believe is the essential skillset for your accounting professionals. Obviously, mathematical and number-crunching abilities are key, but what other skills are important to you?
For example, you might be looking for a team player, someone who understands small business operations, expertise in the tech sector, specialized experience in a certain field, or problem-solving abilities. Make up a list of 5 to 10 top skills you want to see in an accountant and compare applicants’ responses to this list.
11. Explain a complex accounting process to me as if I were a brand-new employee with no accounting experience.
Having run your business for a while, you probably understand accounting at the basic level. But not all your team members will. And there may be more complex concepts that you don’t understand either, so find out whether an applicant can explain such functions in laypersons’ terms.
Too many accounting professionals are stiff, impersonal, and not great with words. In the small business sector, you may have significant problems with an employee who can’t connect with you on a personal level.
Contact Taxfyle Today!
If you’re looking for an experienced cloud-based accounting and tax service that knows all the answers to these questions, you’ve come to the right place. Here at Taxfyle, you are our first priority, and we’ll strive to help you in any way we can. To try a free demo of our services, contact us today!