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How to Interview an Accountant

by Alejandro Russell

Financial crises and corporate scandals at the end of the 20th century led to new, stricter regulations and an increased demand for accountants to help companies to abide by them, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. To choose the best accounting candidates, address a couple of key issues during your recruitment process.

Education Background and Experience

Get to know the accountant's education background and prior relevant experience. Most accounting positions require an employee to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field such as business administration with a concentration in accounting. You should inquire whether they have practical experience in the accounting field such as working with a public firm or any business firm.

Licenses and Certifications

When interviewing an accountant, ask what licenses and certifications they have acquired in their career. Each state's board of accountancy certifies public accountants after they pass a national examination and meet other requirements. Accountants also need certification from the Institute of Management Accountants to show their professional competence in specific accounting fields. Certified public accountants enhance their job prospects and help an organization to attract clients.

Accounting and Taxes

Organizations use tax accountants to file their tax returns accurately and on time. Tax return preparers must obtain a current preparer tax identification number to prepare federal individual income tax returns and represent clients before the IRS. Ask applicants whether they have experience in filing tax returns with the IRS, how they can lower your tax burden and whether they have a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number.

Privacy Policy

You need to know whether the accountant candidate is familiar with and follows the Generally Accepted Privacy Principles, or GAPP. In the United States, CPAs use the Generally Accepted Privacy Principles to help the organizations they work for to protect personal information. An accountant who practices these principles can offer clients privacy advisory services while performing the rest of his internal tasks.

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