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Tax Talent & Culture

Boost firm talent with 5 alternative accounting interview questions to ask

· 6 minute read

· 6 minute read

There are several ways to elevate the talent at your tax and accounting firm, ranging from accounting interview questions to ask, career development opportunities, and creating an inclusive workplace culture. But why does this matter, and why is this a leading concern for many tax and accounting firms?

We are living in a time where employee expectations are shifting. The accounting field can be mundane and inflexible, with fewer accounting graduates entering the profession. Before you start thinking about attracting and retaining top talent in your firm, have you compiled a list of accounting interview questions to ask?  This is important in order to better compete in this fierce job market. Plus, staff turnover is expensive—the average cost to replace an employee is about 50% of that employee’s annual salary. Your firm will need to learn how to break the mold. By asking captivating questions during the accounting interview process and engaging “stay” questions to your current employees, you can help your firm attract and retain top talent in this competitive job market.

Consider these accounting interview questions to ask:


1.  “Why do you want to work for us?”


A popular question asked in most job interviews. By asking a candidate why they want to work for your firm, you will understand their comprehension of the role. Candidates with a good grasp on your company’s mission, values, and goals will shine here.  They show how their own professional goals, values, and personality will fit in at your firm. A candidate who confidentially answers this question can provide insight into how excited and prepared they are to join your company.

Additionally, this question will provide some insight on your employer brand. A study by Hinge Research Institute found that recruitment marketing is an area where many firms fall short—only 36% of those involved in the recruiting and hiring process say recruiting is a marketing priority. If your firm offers a host of great benefits and an awesome company culture, it means little unless it’s effectively marketed to prospective candidates. If an interviewee can accurately describe your employer brand as a reason for wanting to work with you, it means you’ve found success in marketing these attributes.  It also indicates you’ve positioned yourself well to attract talented professionals and future leaders to your firm.

If you’re looking to revamp marketing your employer brand, think about utilizing platforms like your firm’s website (where 63% of employee candidates look for career opportunities) and LinkedIn (candidates are 86% more likely to search here than niche job boards).

2.  “What opportunities for self-improvement would you like to see in your next role?”


When looking to hire, finding a candidate who is passionate about self-development and professional growth is important. It not only means that the employee cares about a long-term future at your company and providing as much value as they can, but it also ensures that employees’ skill sets align with future priorities of the company. Additionally, career progression and professional development are highly sought out by current professionals—a survey by The Muse found that among 8,000 next-gen professionals, learning and growth opportunities were ranked as the most important thing to job seekers.

Knowing this, it’s already likely your candidate—especially if younger—has already thought about the importance of a culture rich with career progression, professional development, and feedback. Asking this question is a great way to leverage their interest in keeping their talent with your company, as well as showing them the opportunities you provide for career path development.

3.  “What kind of firm culture are you looking for?”


Creating the ideal culture at your firm—one that’s rich in diversity, inclusion, and flexibility—provides employees with a sense of empowerment, positivity, and confidence. This helps staff make meaningful contributions to the company, feel invested in their jobs, and comfortable questioning the status quo. Hiring someone who doesn’t exactly fit into your culture means this person might not be as happy.  Consequently, less productive, empowered, and confident—and may bring the morale of the entire team down.

Asking a candidate this question, you can envision the work environment they’ve experienced, appreciate, and thrive in. Naturally, if this answer aligns with your current existing culture, this candidate will be a better fit. Additionally, looking for inclusive qualities like commitment, humility, awareness of bias, curiosity, cultural intelligence, and collaboration in a firm culture can indicate an employee is more apt to fit in and thrive with your firm.

4.  “Do you believe your work has meaning? How can we work together to make your work more meaningful?”


This is an example of a great “stay” question to ask your current employees. Your firm’s success is largely tied to employee engagement—in fact, Gallup research has shown that organizations that engage their employees have four times the amount of earnings-per-share growth of competitors and have higher productivity, better retention, and fewer accidents.  To improve employee engagement, it is extremely important that inclusion is a focus. Displaying appreciation and respect with employees will also promote engagement in developing their firm and career.

Insights through stay interviews enable employees to feel heard and acting on that feedback is even more important. According to an Achievers’ Employee Engagement & Retention Report, 90% of employees are more likely to stay with a company that takes and acts on feedback. You can engage employees by asking them if they feel rewarded, empowered, and proud of the work they are doing. If not, you are providing an outlet to fix an issue and take action. This ensures your employees are happy and find their work important and meaningful.

5.  “If you could change one thing about your job, team, or company, what would it be?”


This is another example of a great “stay” question that can boost engagement among employees and make them feel heard. When asked this question, employees have the chance to speak up. They can address concerns they have about the job, team, or company. But even more importantly, about staying with this role. Information you learn can be extremely valuable and something previously overlooked. Also, if multiple employees are commenting on the same issue, it’s important you’re able to make a change to it. If an employee feels heard, they will have more of a desire to stay. Especially, if you carry out these changes.

By considering these 5 alternative accounting interview questions to ask, firms can position themselves to attract and retain stronger talent.  Plus, keep them engaged in a fierce job market.

Learn more about how to elevate your accounting firm’s talent.

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