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Corporate Culture Matters: Assessing if a Candidate Has the Right Personality for Your Team

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 23, 2016

With the limited number of skilled accountants on the job market, many managers know all too well the difficulty of finding candidates with the right mix of skills and experience needed for filling open positions. One criteria you’ll want to be certain to examine when making a hiring decision is a candidate’s fit with your corporate culture.

New employees who lack a few technical skills can be trained. It’s much harder, however, to teach them how to fit in with their new colleagues and office environment. Bad hires not only cost your organization time and money, they can also bring down employee morale and productivity. 

As you evaluate candidates, one of the many things you should look for is whether they’ll fit in with your corporate culture and thrive as full-time employees. Here are four tips for finding the right personality type for your team.

1. Ask the right questions. There are the standard questions: “Why do you want to work here?” and “Tell me about yourself.” Those aren’t bad, but you need more information. Asking more targeted questions will give you a glimpse into a candidate’s work behavior such as how they relate to coworkers and react under pressure, and whether they have the determination and professional demeanor to thrive in your company culture. 

As an example, you could ask, “Why did you leave your last employer?” If they start badmouthing their boss or colleagues, it may be a sign that they’re not good at collaborating or resolving petty workplace conflicts and might not be a good fit with your corporate culture. Here are a few other interview questions that dig deeper:


  • What did you like best/least about your previous position?
  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a colleague’s approach to a problem. How did you handle the situation?
  • If you could have any job in the world, what would it be? Why?
  • Describe an instance in which you had to think on your feet. Were you satisfied with the result?
  • What aspects of our company’s corporate culture do you find attractive? 
  • What qualities do you prize in coworkers, and why? 

    2. Check references. This is an important step some managers skip in their eagerness to land skilled finance professionals quickly, especially when they look great on paper and impress you with their interview answers. But disregard reference checks at your own risk. Unlike a resume or interview, references give you independent and objective insights into a candidate’s honesty, work ethic and interpersonal skills. Before you make the job offer, do your company and staff the favor of making a few phone calls to verify that what you see is what you’ll actually get.

    3. Mix and mingle with candidates. To better gauge a potential new hire’s personality and fit with your corporate culture, consider meeting outside the office with a few of your team members. Informal settings such as industry mixers and casual gatherings are ideal opportunities to evaluate candidates when they’re not “performing” in the spotlight. It’ll also give your team the opportunity to chime in on your decision. After the gathering, ask one or two team members whether they think the candidate will work well in your corporate culture. 

    4. Conduct a “working interview.” Sometimes the decision will warrant a longer evaluation. In fact, 34 percent of chief financial officers who responded to a recent Robert Half survey said they gained the greatest insight into a candidate’s corporate culture fit by having them work on a temporary basis initially. A temp-to-hire strategy allows you to observe a candidate’s workplace fit in real time and is less risky than bringing on a full-time finance worker after only a few interactions in a somewhat artificial environment. 

    To get the most out of this approach, give these provisional employees challenging assignments so you can see whether they can keep up with the team. Be sure to treat them as you would any full-time worker so they’re comfortable enough to show their true selves. 

    Unlike college degrees or finance certifications, which are easy to check off, determining whether a new hire will fit in with your corporate culture is more challenging to assess. That’s why even though it takes more effort, a thorough and extended evaluation is a wise investment of your time.

    This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half Management Resources, the premier provider of senior-level accounting, finance and business systems professionals to supplement companies' project and interim staffing needs. The company has more than 150 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at Follow our blog at  

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Tags:  hire  interviews  questions  temp 

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