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Five Things Small Businesses Should Look for When Hiring Accounting Staff

When hiring accounting staff, there are a number of specific characteristics to look for in your candidates. Read on for more.
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A catchy alternative title to this article could be “Y Vowels can Help when Hiring Accounting Staff.” Although vowels are taught back in kindergarten, a refresher is useful as you consider hiring accounting staff. Vowels were once taught as A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y and W. 

You might question the W, but you can skip it for now (although cwm and crwth are valid Scrabble words). 

  • A is for Attention to Detail
  • E is for Education & Experience
  • I is for Initiative & Integrity
  • O is for Organizational Fit
  • U is for Understanding Needs

Now for a deeper dive, but in reverse order—this will bring a clearer picture when you review resumes, prepare for interviews, and make the hire. 

Whether you are hiring an entry-level accounting clerk or bringing in an accounting manager, understanding what the organization needs from the position is imperative in making it an A+ hire. A job description is prudent, but organizations should know what skills and abilities will allow the new hire to succeed. Is the position more repetitive or does it offer a variety of tasks? This will assist the organization in finding the right candidate without spending too much time on recruits that truly do not match with the needs of the position. 

Organizational fit helps to establish parameters to determine how the new hire will feel as a part of the company and how quickly they can contribute at desired levels without contention. What are the core values of your organization? Does the company workday start early or end late? Is the organization driven more by service or cost? How does the candidate align with these? Understanding how the candidate can relate and function in your culture will allow you to filter through candidates who will struggle in your organization. 

Initiative and integrity are not only traits welcomed by any team, but foundational to accounting. Who does not like it when a teammate anticipates problems and brings solutions, or simply raises their hand and volunteers for more work? No one likes to deliver tough news, but we can appreciate the willingness of those who do step forward. Using behavioral questions can help you gain insight into how well a candidate can demonstrate they are a person of integrity—and one who also shows initiative. A possible request of the candidate is to have them rate their Excel skills on a scale of 1 to 5, without letting them know which is best or worst. See if they take the initiative to ask the follow-up question for clarity. Often, accounting does not get the full details without follow-up questions. 

Education and experience come into play when you truly understand the role the candidate will fill within the organization. Are the position requirements more weighted toward education, experience, or a combination of both? The only hard and fast rule is to understand the position well enough that you do not automatically rule out someone based on one or the other. In today’s environment, there continues to be a battle for talent, so being able to filter through education and experience is necessary to assess talent. Often when filling a position, companies look to “upgrade” their talent, but a caution is necessary as the position is rarely upgraded and can lead to a mismatch between the job to be performed and the talent to perform it.

Attention to detail is one trait that quickly comes to mind when reviewing resumes. Consistency within a resume provides insight into how well a person has scrutinized their own resume. Does the resume have inconsistencies within itself? Are dates used both as alpha and numeric, or are some months abbreviated while others are not? When bullet points are used, is there a consistent approach with the use (or non-use) of the period at the end? Any inconsistencies also may be used in the interview to assess how well an individual responds to constructive criticism when asked about the discrepancies. 

Although hiring accounting staff is not as easy as A, B, C, remembering your vowels will assist you in finding a candidate that fits your organization. 

Reach out to a professional at FORVIS or submit the Contact Us form below if you have questions.

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