Evaluating Finance Candidate Fit: Phone Screening


We know. There’s a role to fill and little time to do it. But bringing the wrong candidate in for a face-to-face interview can waste everyone’s valuable time. This is why doing an initial phone screening makes sense.

Here’s how to maximize your phone screening interview by asking the right questions.

Question #1: Tell me about how your job search is progressing.
The candidate’s answer can be very revealing. How long have they been in job search mode? Are they applying to a lot of different roles? If you’re dealing with a top-notch candidate, this question can help you get a sense of how competitive the field might be.

Question #2: What was it about the role that caught your attention?
You want a candidate who makes purposeful career choices. Their answer will help you understand how seriously they’re taking your role.

Question #3: What’s your ideal role look like?
In this question try to cover key areas:

  • Work hours
  • Need for flexibility
  • Preferred management style
  • Leadership potential (if relevant)
  • Opportunities for skill set growth
  • Preferred team style

This information can also be used later on during the face-to-face interview to delve more deeply into their expectations and potential fit for the organization.

Pro Tip: Remember, the candidate may be evaluating fit as actively as you are, so ensure that each interaction is consistent with your company’s core values and messaging.

ReadHow to Attract Accountants with Your Corporate Culture” to understand how important your company’s culture is in attracting top talent.

Question #4: How much notice do you need to give? Availability for an Interview?
If your need is urgent and the candidate tells you they’ll need 6 weeks, perhaps they’re not a fit. One of the benefits of asking questions like these is that they’ll reveal how serious the candidate is about transitioning. If they’re merely sending out feelers, you’ll find out fairly quickly.

Question #5: What are your salary expectations?
You’ve done everything right in setting up your hiring process for success and this includes verifying the budget you have for your new hire. Unfortunately, trying to hire a $90,000 candidate for $70,000 is a recipe for future disaster. Make sure you understand realistic market expectations for the kind of talent you’re trying to attract, otherwise you could lose your candidate of choice at the 11th hour to a better offer.

ReadIs There Buy-In and Other Questions to Ask Before Hiring Accountants” to set up your hiring process for success.

Question #6: In your previous role, what was your greatest success? Greatest challenge?
How your candidate defines success is incredibly revealing. Are they able to quantify their accomplishment? Was it a team success? If so, what was their specific contribution to the outcome? Were they able to build consensus or overcome obstacles?

Did they dust themselves off and pick themselves up when things didn’t go according to plan? How do they respond when met with adversity? Great candidates exhibit grit and resilience. In fact, our research shows that these 2 qualities greatly determine the success of a hire.

Question #7: Why are you leaving (did you leave) your current (last) position? What would need to change for you to continue working there?
Understanding the candidate’s reasons for transitioning are imperative and so too is their vulnerability to a counter offer.

Key Takeaways
At the early stages of the recruiting process it’s important to understand why a candidate is looking to transition. Does your candidate make strategic career choices? Does their preferred management and working style mesh with your existing team? How do they define success and how do they deal with failure? Ensure that salary expectations are aligned and that they are available to work when you’ll need them. The phone interview can be a critical step in a successful hiring process, so it makes sense to ask the right questions before you potentially waste time and energy down the road.

Need more help with your interview process? Download our resource “Help! I’m Interviewing Accountants.

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.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

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