Interviewing Finance Professionals – Dig Deep to Understand Behaviours

Ever had the feeling that you may have hired the wrong person? AND, had that feeling, that if you’d dug a bit deeper in interview you might have uncovered the disconnect?

We’ve talked a lot in recent blogs about how to do a great interview, but what about being on the other side of the table? Being the interviewer, rather than the interviewee, can be just as hard, if not harder, so what things should you be conscious of, when preparing to conduct an interview?

#1 Understand what it is you really want from your new hire

This may sound like a fairly obvious one, but many organisations and hiring managers fall into a trap of only interviewing for hard skills. You must think about the character or competency set you are looking for. Sure you may need someone to do GL accounting using SAP, but what will make them good at this job, from a soft skills perspective? Do you have difficult stakeholders in your organisation that they’ll have to manage, or do you have other priorities you’ll need them to drive, requiring a capacity for leadership? Just assuming that because someone says they ‘want’ to manage, and that they have enough experience to assume they should have the knowledge to do it…probably won’t cut it.

#2 Decide on these core competencies and construct some scenario-based questions to evaluate these skills

You may need to work with your HR team, or recruiter, on defining the wording of your questions, but having this prepared is essential to conducting an effective interview. To get you started, try to identify two challenges or critical experiences you need your hire to have experienced and overcome in order to be able to succeed in this job. For example, embedding a process change with a member of the team? Managing two competing priorities against an unfeasible deadline?

#3 Explain the scenario to the interviewee and ask them to share an accomplishment that is most comparable

Their answer should be achievement focused, not just situational. Judge their answer by assessing their personal contribution and if they have demonstrated the competency you are seeking. If the interviewee relies heavily on “we” or talks in general or unspecific terms, probe further to understand ‘how’ or ‘why’ they took that approach.

#4 Ask them how they would go about overcoming a specific challenge or solving the explained problem now

Don’t be afraid of labouring a point – share your challenges with them, and ask them how they would manage it. Gaining an insight into past behavioural patterns and future thought processes will provide you with a deep understanding of an individual’s performance capability.

Above all, keep it focused, and tailored. The biggest mistake is only interviewing for hard skills, but the second biggest mistake is using competency based or behavioural based interview question templates that are generic. Take ownership for your interviewing strategy, you’ll get out what you put in, not to mention saving you time in the long run!

Tailor, target and test thoroughly – it’s your call.

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