Interviewing Candidates Effectively

You have reviewed all CV’s and application forms for your Accounts Payable Assistant role and used the best to narrow it down to a list of people you would like to interview. Now you will want to interview carefully to make sure you hire the best person for the job.

The best person for the role is the person who can best meet the work requirements of the job. Your current list of potentials all look good on paper only. So you will want to make sure they haven’t oversold themselves by asking them to elaborate on their experiences and demonstrate working knowledge of their listed skills and fill in any gaps. Here is a list of questions that will help you do this. 

Which Accounts Payable software packages have you used?

There are many Accounts Payable software packages available including Sage, Oracle, Quickbooks and SAP. Ideally the candidate will have a solid work experience in the software package which you use but if they dont, having experience other packages will make the transition easier. If the candidate has experience in two or more packages both of which you don’t use, this shows that they have no issue applying their background experience in accounts payable to new software and are adaptable to change. 

This will also ensure that they are able to learn quickly and hit the ground running in order to become a useful member of the team as soon as possible which is very important when you consider the time involved to get them trained up will take time from the rest of your team and you may have already developed a backlog of invoices that need processing due to the leaving colleages departure.

How to you prioritize your work load?

There is only a finite amount of time and and an endless amount of incoming invoices, statements and letters as well as phonecalls and email. When it comes to invoices the candidate should be aware that not all invoices are equal. The most urgent documents that need attention are legal letters, such as court documents as well as on stop accounts of business critical suppliers. After that, all on stop accounts should be looked into. Invoices with settlement discounts should also be prioritized to ensure the invoice is paid in time for the settlement discount to be taken. Queried invoices should be looked into quickly and credit notes should be applied to queried invoices so that they can be paid. Of the remaining invoices that come in on any given day they should all be equal assuming the supplier gives 30 days on all invoices. 

How do you manage queries?

There will always be invoices with issues including invoicing for incorrect quantities or prices, as well as invoices that are missing order numbers or that dont mathmatically add up. Effectively Accounts Payable Assistants will address queries calmly and promptly, inline with the companies policies. They will know that sometimes the supplier should be contacted directly, or sometimes the buyer who manages the relationship with the supplier should be contacted. 

Good candidates will be able to communicate effectively with supplers to resolve queries with suppliers and get corrected documents or credit note to enables invoices to be paid. They should also be able to reconcile statements and make sure copies for all outstanding invoices are requested as soon as they are known about. They should also be able to identify reoccuring queries or problem areas and provide preventative future measures or raise them to their supervisor or manager if they need assistance.

Give some examples of when you have worked well in a team?

Depending on the size of the team, invoice workloads and emails are usually portioned out by letter range. A team player will be happy to take part in jobs beyond their normal assigned tasks such as helping other staff who currently have a higher outstanding workload or volunteering help with emails when another colleage is on holiday, to training new starters. Other tasks include helping locate documents when its audit time or learning new skills there is more knowledge within the team so that its easier to cover sickness, holidays or staff that leave. Good team players also volunteer for overtime when it is needed.

Give examples of taking ownership for your work?

Taking ownership for your work means doing your best to meet targets and not leaving work for others to pick up the slack. It means actively accessing your workload each day and making sure you are on top of it. Good ownership means thinking and acting in terms of solutions rather than in terms of problems and complaining. A good employee will take actions to learn any skills or ways of doing things from the team that will help them perform the best they can in their own work.

What volume of invoices can you process a day?

This is the question which every Accounts Payable Manager would like to know before before they hire a candidate. The trouble is that what ever number they give, high or low, its hard to see how that would translate into invoices processed per day in your system. This is because different companies process invoices differently, some will have automation software such as optical character recognition which will mean only minimal entry and checking is required by the AP assistant, others will have more complex invoices where lots of details need to be checked and multiple approvers are required. Some companies will receive mainly one lines invoices where others may receive many invoices that are multiple pages long.

In order to remedy this, we have developed the Accounts Payable Pro Speed and Accuracy Test this test replicates the invoice entry process by giving the user a predetermined number of invoices to enter and providing you with a speed and accuracy score at the end of it to evaluate the candidates performance.

Click here to download a free 30 day trial.


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