How to Test Soft Skills in an Accounting Interview


Developing questions to test technical skill is a fairly straight-forward process. But what happens when you need to evaluate a candidate’s soft skill set?

Things become slightly more complicated when it comes to assessing initiative, or a team first mentality.

Here’s some guidance when you need to determine if a candidate has the soft skills required to be successful.

An ability to see a connection between personal action and consequence in an objective way allows candidates to succeed and grow in a role. To that end, ask about a time when the candidate was working on a project or task and he/she made a misstep. Note how the candidate responds. Was he/she able to accept responsibility, create a plan and move forward to forge a successful outcome or learn from his/her mistake?

Ask the candidate to recount a time he/she was part of a successful team outcome. Be wary of candidates who trumpet their role at the expense of others. Anyone who positions themselves as the person who saved the day because his/her team had it all wrong, is not someone you want to hire. On the other hand, a promising candidate speaks well of his/her team, frames the narrative as a group success, but still identifies areas where he/she personally contributed.

Initiative and Grit
Candidates who take the initiative can be valuable difference makers to an organization, particularly if they have the technical guns to bring their ideas to fruition. Questions to test initiative include: a) Tell me about a time when you were asked to do more than your job required and b) Explain an instance when you devised an idea to solve a problem and then delivered as a result. Look for a willingness to do what is needed to achieve expectations (grit) and the initiative to get it done.

Testing for soft skills is imperative to identifying a quality hire. And while there are many more soft skills than the three listed above, a candidate that has a high degree of self-awareness, coupled with initiative, grit and a team-oriented approach is someone you should consider hiring.