Five Tips for a Successful Candidate Interview

Five Tips for a Successful Candidate Interview

Tip #1: Script out your questions

If you’ve done any interviewing at all, you know that feeling of suddenly realizing you’re almost out of time, and you haven’t gotten through a quarter of the areas you had planned on covering. You may have had a delightful conversation, but you haven’t gotten the information needed to determine the candidate’s fit. Scripting helps keep you on track. It also helps keep you from getting too drawn in by a candidate’s charisma.

Some hiring managers avoid scripting their interview questions. They figure they’ll just go with the flow and ask whatever questions come to them. You can take that approach, of course. You can make hiring decisions based on feeding your hunches with a spontaneous conversation, with little genuine information to support your decision.  And you will get spotty results. What’s really dangerous about this approach, however, is that it gets your ego wrapped up in the hire.  The person you hire ends up becoming more than a hire – they become the evidence of your ability to judge people.  If they don’t work out, it reflects poorly on you. We have seen managers hang on to employees way longer than they should, costing the company both morale and money because they were essentially too embarrassed to own up to their bad decision.

Remember, this process is about excellence in hiring. If you want to hire at the 100% success rate, then you must do the things that are required of that level of excellence. And that means subsuming your ego to the process of objectively gathering information. Scripting is a great aid to keep your focus on the process.

Print out your question and leave lots of room for notes. We recommend attaching them to a clipboard so that you can sit with the clipboard angled on the edge of the table or desk and take notes without the candidate reading them.

Tip # 2: Use the candidate’s name

As Dale Carnegie said, “Remember that a man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in the English language.”

In order to build rapport with the candidate, use their name regularly, but naturally. You can do this with the tone of your voice by emphasizing the point of your question, while including their name, almost casually. As a test, say this sentence aloud, stressing the part in bold: “So Mark, what would you say has been your greatest accounting challenge over the past two years?”  Can you hear how unforced Mark’s name flows within the question? You’re using his name without drawing attention to the fact that you’re doing so as a conscious interviewing technique.

Tip # 3: Maintain eye contact

In the interviewing process, maintaining eye contact is made challenging by the need to take quick hand notes. In addition, virtual interviews make maintaining eye contact even harder if you have disruptions on your screen like an open email inbox.

Let’s first talk about eye contact. Networking experts tell us that one good way to maintain natural eye contact is to focus on just one of the other person’s eyes. It doesn’t matter which one, just pick one and stick with it. Unless you’re sitting just an inch or two from the other person, they can’t really tell you’re looking at just one eye. If you’re uncomfortable with eye contact, focus your thoughts on finding out and noting the color of the other person’s eyes. That thought will make the exercise more analytical and less intimidating.

You want to be careful, of course, to avoid turning attentive eye contact into a psychotic staring contest.  You can do this in a number of ways: looking at the person’s other eye for a little while, nodding, blinking, leaning forward or backward – all help keep the eye contact looking natural. Also, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to glance away for a few seconds when you’re talking.

Maintaining eye contact is especially important at points of the interview where crucial areas are being covered. Keeping eye contact when you ask, “So where did you go to college?” is not nearly as important as when you ask, “When was the last time your integrity was challenged and what did you do in that situation?”

For virtual face-to-face interviews, you will need to get accustomed to looking into the camera to maintain genuine eye contact throughout the interview. Using eye contact and other body language like smiling, nodding, and leaning forward during the interview will let the job seeker know that you are interested in what they have to say, especially when you ask them well thought out questions.

Tip # 4: Take notes

Good, detailed notes are critical to evaluating candidates. Your notes should contain factual information (e.g., has the skill/does not have the skill) as well as your impressions (e.g., good storyteller/didn’t take the cue to wrap it up, etc.).  Don’t leave recollection to your memory.  For the sake of your team (and your own sanity), write it all down.

Taking notes during a virtual interview is a real challenge when you’re trying to also listen carefully and maintain eye contact. If needed, you may have an admin or another team member take notes. You may also record the interview (in plain view of the candidate, of course), though keep in mind that recording tends to formalize the atmosphere and can stifle honest, open interaction.

The key to taking good notes is to leave 15 minutes open at the end of the interview session for you to reflect privately on the session and record your observations and impressions. If you allow this time in your planning, then you can write short, keyword notes during the interview that will trigger your full thoughts afterwards. For example, you may ask your candidate about his project management experience, and he may tell you a story about managing a team through an SAP module implementation where he was responsible for five people and the project was delivered a month behind schedule. You may jot down: “story – SAP imp. – managed 5  ppl – delayed/gathering requirements from Cleveland office – GOOD – noted what he could have done differently (involved sr. mgmt sooner) – has req. experience. “ From these notes, you should be able to reconstruct the conversation and write it in a way that’s clear to the rest of your team.

On your script, list only three or four questions per page. This format should leave you lots of white space to write in.  Remember, you want to build rapport and maintain as much eye contact as possible, so try to take notes without focusing on the page (ideally, without looking at it, depending on your penmanship).

One more tip – try to take notes fairly constantly throughout the interview, or at least at regular intervals. You want to avoid having the candidate think that any one thing he or she has said is particularly critical. If you’re writing frequently, you won’t tip your hand.

Tip # 5: Use cues

Encourage the candidate to elaborate on answers and issues by using verbal and non-verbal cues. Using cues is important for a couple of reasons.  First, using cues allows you to more easily manage the 90/10 candidate-to-interviewer talking ratio. Second, how a candidate reacts or doesn’t react to a cue can tell you a lot about their interpersonal skills.

Consciously integrating these cues into the interviewing process will help you to gauge their interpersonal skills and how they might fit best within your team. 

For a virtual interview, there may be more verbal than nonverbal cues used; however, for an in-person interview, you can really lean into the nonverbal cues of using body language to see their response. 

Here are some nonverbal cues to try out during your next in-person interview. 

We hope these tips help!

Atlanta Business Chronicle Honors Dan Erling with Leader in Corporate Citizenship Award

Atlanta Business Chronicle Honors Dan Erling with Leader in Corporate Citizenship Award

ATLANTA – Feb. 18, 2021 – In recognition of leaders who have found the perfect intersection of social good and corporate success, Dan Erling, Accountants One CEO and President, was honored as a Leader in Corporate Citizenship by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Erling is being recognized in the Executive Champion Small Company category for the 2021 virtual event that took place earlier today.

This award honors individuals who have demonstrated a strong commitment to corporate responsibility practices and are actively engaged in supporting and expanding those efforts.  Rewarded individuals have successfully integrated relevant societal concerns into their core operating strategies and embraced them as positive for businesses, customers, employees, and their communities.

The Executive Champion – Small company category recognizes small company leaders who exemplify the ability to inspire and engage employees in social good by creating a company culture that embraces philanthropy, employee volunteerism, and personal commitment to giving back to the Atlanta community.

The global pandemic quickly and profoundly changed our daily lives; however, Dan refused to allow these unprecedented circumstances to interfere with his dedication and promise to continue to raise awareness for Junior Achievement of Georgia and most of all the students of our community.

The 2020 Virtual South’s Funniest Accountant raised $50,000 for Junior Achievement in a truly unique online setting. All of the proceeds raised in 2020 went directly to the students of the Atlanta community that Junior Achievement supports.

Erling is an active Junior Achievement Board member and creates a culture at Accountants One of corporate and social responsibility. Under Erling’s leadership, the team volunteerism with Junior Achievement of Georgia is integrated into the daily operations at Accountants One. Often, Erling and his team volunteer through donating time to work with students at BizTown and Finance Park, and also assist with an annual case study at Banneker High School.

“It’s an honor to be recognized for this award,” says Erling. “Never in a million years did I think the Search for the South’s Funniest Accountant would be where it is today. As a former math teacher, it is rewarding to see the work my company is doing positively impact students. We would not be here today without the incredible people on our team. Gratitude!”

Erling was recently featured in an article from the Atlanta Business Chronicle where you can read more about his thoughts on corporate citizenship, leadership, and more.

About Accountants One

Accountants One provides contract, temp-to-hire, and direct hire placements to clients across the Southeast. Clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to entrepreneurial startups rely on Accountants One for high-quality accounting and finance talent. Their ability to attract an outstanding community of Atlanta-based candidates dates to 1973. To learn more visit,


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Tori Wheeler

Accountants One Announces New Exclusive Retained CFO Search

Accountants One Announces New Exclusive Retained CFO Search

November 10, 2020

Atlanta, Georgia

Accounting and finance recruiting and staffing firm, Accountants One, has been exclusively retained for an executive Chief Financial Officer (CFO) search for a growing healthcare organization in Roswell, GA. 

This search is being run by Senior Recruiter, Brent Harris.  Brent Harris, CPC is in his 25th year of recruiting and placing professionals in the Atlanta market.  For the last twelve years, he has been the Atlanta Team Lead for Accountants One and has excelled at helping companies identify and hire people that match the company culture and goals.

Accountants One has been exclusively retained to assist in identifying and hiring the first CFO for a highly successful, closely held, entrepreneurial, healthcare organization. This hands-on Chief Financial Officer (CFO) role will be headquartered in Roswell, GA.

The successful candidate will have a proven track record of creating and improving the financial infrastructure a growing organization requires as they continue to expand. The successful candidate will understand the information that executive management needs as they make strategic decisions. This will require a broad diversity of skills to include finance, accounting, reporting, and analysis.

Our client is offering an excellent compensation package and has outstanding owners. This would be an excellent job for someone looking to help grow an already successful organization.

Our Services

We handle hiring so you can focus on growing your business. Learn more about our additional recruiting and staffing solutions including Long-Term and Short-Term staffing.

How to Maintain Effective Communication in a Virtual Workplace

How to Maintain Effective Communication in a Virtual Workplace

This year, more than ever, remote work has become a staple of the workplace. According to Flexjobs, we’ve seen a 44% growth rate in remote work opportunities over the last 5 years alone. This year was no exception.

Maintaining effective communication is very important for businesses to run efficiently. Increased communication – working remotely or working onsite – has a number of benefits including increased morale, productivity, and trust.

Here are five tips for maintaining effective communication in the virtual workplace.

Schedule Regular Meetings

Scheduling consistent and frequent calls with your team give you an opportunity to sync up and make sure priorities for the day or the week are set.

These types of meetings ensure that there are no challenges moving forward and you can address anything that is urgent or important.

Since working remotely can leave a workplace feeling scattered, these meetings also serve as a chance to connect on a deeper personal level as well. Allow for some time to socialize and let everyone feel connected to each other. Not only will it improve communication, but morale as well.

Use Tools at Your Disposal to Keep the Lines Open

How you communicate can be just as important as what you communicate. With so many different tools at our disposal, it’s important to choose which ones suit your needs the best and ensure your employees the greatest level of communication with each other.

Video conference tools such as Zoom and GoToMeeting have become more popular because they offer the option to join via video or phone call, which makes it easier for everyone to connect in the best way for them. Whatever tools you use, make sure you keep them “sharpened.” Keep your applications and systems up to date to make sure that no breakdowns happen.

Have an Open Line for Feedback

Feedback is always important in the workplace, remote or not, but making sure everyone has their concerns addressed is probably the most crucial part of making sure they are able to communicate effectively.

Don’t assume that the choices for tools you’ve made will work for everyone. Give them time to explore the tools, and then ask for their feedback. See if there is a way to address their concerns to make their job easier and, if necessary, explore other options.

Make Important Information Easily Accessible

Preserving information is easier than ever. Most virtual meetings can be recorded for use at a later date, online schedules can be synched up, and information can be shared with whoever needs it. Making sure that information is easily accessible can help you avoid misunderstandings and confusion.

Record important meetings when possible to make sure absentees don’t miss out on the information not included in slides. Have note sheets ready and make them easy to find on a shared company drive like a company intranet or Google Drive.

Set Expectations for Your Team

Once you have all the pieces in place and are set up for success, you need to make sure you are personally communicating your expectations with your team. Trust them to be able to do the job you’ve given them. Make sure important tasks are scheduled, easily available for viewing, and everyone is on the same page.

If you are an individual contributor within an organization, communicate your workflow items with your team, and set your team’s expectations. If they are relying on you for certain data, it’s important they know how much you have going on so that they don’t waste valuable time. This is where Agile Project Management and the daily standup meetings can become even more important.


Growing an International Manufacturing Company Through Executive Search

Growing an International Manufacturing Company Through Executive Search

Growing an International Manufacturing Company Through Executive Search

Executive Search Case Study

Project Summary

In 2009, we started our close relationship with what is now a $300M international manufacturing and distribution company. In 2009, they were just passing the $15M mark and needed their first Controller. Over the next decade, we would partner with them again and again as they would hit a new phase that required someone with specific skills to help them reach their new target. This organization needed a recruiting partner that could deeply understand their dynamic business needs and provide high-level executive professionals to help them achieve their business goals. Accountants One was up for the challenge.

Key Challenges

  • Finding the right accounting and finance leadership for each specific stage along the way from start-up to when they first broke the $100M mark
  • Their inclusion of private equity partners meant that they would acquire other companies, so they needed high-quality financial leadership with M&A experience

Our Solutions

  • Listened and built a long-term relationship with our client to ensure their success
  • Sourcing from our deep database and an extensive network of executive accounting professionals
  • Engaged in a customized recruiting strategy with the CEO that with their business goals

The Outcome

  • Our executive search team brought in six accounting leaders including the current CFO, the current Corporate Controller, a Business Unit Controller, two previous Controllers, and the current Corporate Finance Manager
  • Our client gained public recognition from the current CFO; two time CFO of the Year recognition from the Atlanta Business Chronicle 
  • Our client experienced growth to the bottom line with their new executive hires; $15M to $300M+ in revenue
  • Our client’s founders were named Entrepreneurs of the Year for 2020 from Ernest & Young

    “We were working with a number of recruiting firms to fill our company’s top financial position. Other firms repeatedly presented us with candidates that were not a good fit. Accountants One found me and quickly zeroed in on our needs. In a matter of days, they presented three qualified candidates to us. We are delighted with our candidate selection.”


    $300M Manufacturing Company

    Have a hiring challenge that you’d like our help with? Tell us everything. 


    Building A Contingent Work Force

    Building A Contingent Work Force

    Building A Contingent Work Force

    Contract Case Study

    Project Summary

    A $10M services firm that had just acquired two of their competitors in less than 3 years and tripled their client list discovered that they had a severely understaffed organization for the new business they were receiving. To avoid losing their unmatched industry-leading service and commitment, they needed to augment their team with a contingent labor force to keep up with demand. They needed a staffing partner who could quickly take action, so they turned to Accountants One for help.

    Key Challenges

    • Management was too busy filling orders to invest in the hiring process
    • The retention rate was low because of employee frustration with workload
    • Company finances were crumbling due to lack of organization in accounting function (no invoices sent, or A/R collected)

    Our Solutions

    • Listened and evaluated our client’s needs to ensure their success
    • Urgent mobilization of expert recruiter through a database full of highly qualified, pre-screened candidates
    • Gave strategic recommendations to the client to create a Credit and Collections department to keep the billing process on track

    The Outcome

    • Our tailored recruiting strategy brought in over 54 skilled and deadline-driven candidates who were vital to the organization of the accounting department, doubling the staff size
    • Our client had more flexibility and cost-savings through Accountants One handling payroll, state and federal paperwork, benefits, liability, and exposure. Several Accountants One contractors were converted into permanent hires
    • Our client experienced a total increase to their bottom line through the organized invoicing process, increased sales, and higher employee retention

    “Accountants One has definitely amazed me with the candidates they were able to find that worked out great! Our recruiter goes out of her way to get good candidates for us. She is very flexible and always delivers high-quality service.”


    $10M Services Company

    Have a hiring challenge that you’d like our help with? Tell us everything.


    Direct Hire Staffing Solution

    Direct Hire Staffing Solution

    Growth of a $150M Public Company

    Direct Hire Case Study

    Project Summary

    After a $150M publicly-traded technology company moved from the West Coast to Atlanta, their stock took a major dive, and their new Atlanta-based employees became quickly demoralized. An organization that was already taking on water by a downwardly spiraling economy was even further damaged by a rushed and erratic hiring process. Quickly receiving negative press in Atlanta, there were no candidates that took interest in working for the company in such disarray.  The organization’s new Chief Financial Officer who saw potential in this organization had a monumental task ahead of him. So, he turned to Accountants One for help.

    Key Challenges

    • Negative reputation in Atlanta led to disheartened employees
    • Their stock went from trading at $125 to $0.12
    • The Accounting department was missing critical quarterly deadlines
    • Focus on keeping the company resilient and profitable meant no time to invest in the hiring process

    Our Solutions

    • Careful assessment of company values, vision, organizational structure, leadership, and communication style with CFO and Human Resources Director
    • Conduced real in-depth behavioral interviews with a qualified candidate pool who could identify with the new CFO’s growth strategy
    • Provided portfolio packages for the highest quality candidates that the CFO and HR Director could evaluate before moving forward with the hiring process

    The Outcome

    • Through our observations, research, and data collection, the company was able to develop an effective personality profile and establish and articulate the company culture to potential new hires and the business community
    • Our process-driven recruiting and hiring approach helped them add over 30 new employees to their organization who drove growth to the bottom line
    • Our client completely rebounded and was back to being the pinnacle of the investment world
    • Eventually, our client went through a successful merger, purchasing another company to augment their
      service line

    “Accountants One got to know me. They talked to people I had worked with
    previously. They learned my strengths as well as my weaknesses. They told
    me that they only send me people who will help me succeed. I interviewed
    the ones they sent. Sure enough, they were correct. I received candidates
    who wanted to work for someone like me, in an industry I am in and who
    needed my type of leadership for their own success. We were quickly able
    to hire and fill our positions.

    I have never experienced such caring service from any recruiting agency
    during my twenty-two year career! The Accountants One recruiters
    significantly enhance anyone’s organization because of their skill set and
    most importantly, because of their caring approach.”


    $150M Public Company

    Have a hiring challenge that you’d like our help with? Tell us everything.


    How To Show Promotions or Various Positions on Your Resume (With Examples)

    How To Show Promotions or Various Positions on Your Resume (With Examples)

    September 2, 2020

    If you’ve been with a company for a long time, reflecting a promotion or job change with your long-term employer shows growth and stability on your resume. This will make you a competitive candidate in the job market, which will make you stand out from the rest. 

    Once the decision has been made to move to a new organization – voluntarily or involuntarily – getting started on your resume can sound like a daunting task.  A successful resume should paint a clear picture of your career for the hiring manager or recruiter, showcasing promotions or lateral moves within your organization.

    Here’s a quick breakdown of scenarios when adding to your resume:

    Scenario 1 – The Promotion

    Receiving promotions within your organization should be celebrated and acknowledged even on your resume, especially in public accounting. That’s a huge achievement, right?

    If you are climbing the ladder at a Big 4 or Mid-Tier Accounting Firm, you will typically receive a promotion every 1 – 3 years. Starting out as an Associate and progressing to Senior or even Manager is very impressive to virtually any hiring manager or recruiter.

    Often a promotion means a new title, salary, and increased level of responsibilities. The scope and nature of your work change. Be sure to stack all job titles on your resume and bullet point list your daily responsibilities, and don’t be scared to mention your promotion as a bullet point!

    XYZ Accounting Firm, Atlanta, GA

    Tax Manager (January 2017 – Present)

    Tax Senior (March 2015 – January 2017)

    • Accomplishment or value you brought to the company that resulted in promotion

    • Responsibilities

    • Responsibilities

    • Responsibilities

    Scenario 2 – The Lateral Move

    So, you changed to a different position in the same company? Lateral moves can be really helpful in showing your adaptability and ability to work cross-functionality (especially in larger companies) with different lines of business.

    To show this type of transition on your resume, it is best to use the company name as and then list each position underneath. As you go back in time, feel free to add less detail. Recruiters and hiring managers are going to read more about your most recent experience and see your achievements in that role.

    XYZ Accounting Firm, Atlanta, GA

    Forensic Audit Manager (January 2017 – Present)

    • Accomplishment or value you brought to the company that resulted in promotion

    • Responsibilities

    • Responsibilities

    • Responsibilities

    Audit Manager (March 2015 – January 2017)

    • Accomplishment or value you brought to the company that resulted in promotion

    • Responsibilities

    • Responsibilities

    • Responsibilities

    Remember that your resume should tell a story about your career. Try to highlight as many accomplishments and give the hiring manager or recruiter as much insight as possible into the value that you’ve brought to previous companies. It is also important to remember that you should be prepared to talk about the different items listed on your resume. Be prepared to share a story that relates to the point you are making. 

    Want to discuss how we can serve your professional needs—and start achieving more of your career goals? Contact us today or apply to a position.

    Accountants One COVID-19 Response

    Accountants One COVID-19 Response

    A Message from our CEO

    Friends of Accountants One,

    We share your concerns in preventing the spread of the virus, COVID-19. We are committed to the health and safety of our clients, candidates, and internal team. We are following the updates from the CDC closely and are following their best practices for prevention. We have increased our cleaning regime, as well as temporarily offering an option of video interviewing.

    Since 1973 Accountants One has differentiated itself by meeting every candidate personally. As soon as conditions improve we will get back to ensuring that each and every candidate has been interviewed in person. In the meantime, we will use technology to conduct “virtual face-to-face meetings.” Please let us know if you have any questions about these temporary changes in the Accountants One methodology.

    Stay healthy!

    Dan Erling,

    CEO, Accountants One

    Looking for a job during COVID-19?

    Our clients are actively hiring and extending offers through the pandemic.

    4 Ways to Benefit from Flexible Staffing in this Market

    4 Ways to Benefit from Flexible Staffing in this Market

    August 3, 2020

    With the pandemic causing budget uncertainty, organizations are assessing their teams and cutting costs where they can. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment level declined by 2.2% from May to June, now sitting at 11.1%.

    In economic situations like this where businesses cannot afford to keep employees, businesses can be left with holes in productivity and possibly very few ways to fill them.

    A flexible staffing model offers a potential solution to this challenge. Here are five ways that you can benefit from a flexible staffing and hiring model during this time.

    You Save Money

    A contractor will get the job done without the same direct-hire costs associated with hiring, onboarding, and training. Typically, using a contractor means not paying taxes, social security, or benefits. As a hiring manager, you will set the scope and length of the project, so you will only be paying for this candidate as long it’s necessary.

    You Don’t Have to Deal with as Much Paperwork

    State and federal documents, timesheets, weekly payroll, and W-2 tax forms are all out of your hands with contractors. You can bypass the administrative duties and get straight to focusing on the job at hand.  You will also skip sifting through the hundreds of resumes that usually come in with a direct-hire employee. With a phone call or email, you could have a handpicked selection of people ready to fit your immediate needs on your desk tomorrow.

    You Get A Vetted and Quality Person

    When you use a project-based candidate who works with a good recruiting firm, you will benefit from the in-depth vetting that goes on behind the scenes. Many contractors have been tested, interviewed, and even worked with a client in the past so you can rest knowing that they are reliable and ready to work for you.  

    You Might Find Your Next Great Hire

    Nothing is exclusively temporary with contractors. Have you ever heard the term “try before you buy?” Through the addition of a contractor, you may find that you really want to bring that person on as a full-time, direct-hire employee once their assignment ends. It is important to evaluate the value,  technical skills, and cultural fit that your contractor brings to the table before bringing them on permanently.

    The decision to increase reliance on contractors and contingent labor is an excellent way to remain competitive in the market, either for growing or shrinking businesses.

    Accountants One is always happy to help with any professional needs you may have. Our office is fully operational as we continue to support clients in providing immediate staffing solutions including Temporary Contractors, Contract to Hire, and Direct Hire.

    “Accountants One understands the urgency called for bringing candidates in. They are very capable of quickly finding solutions for sometimes odd situations that we present. They are very flexible and willing to negotiate. I haven’t seen this kind of flexibility in other recruiting companies.”


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