How to Hire a (Great!) Accountant

How to hire a great accountant

Hiring a great accountant is vital. They manage your company’s money, ensure compliance with tax rules, and contribute to strategic financial decisions.

But screening accountant candidates presents real challenges: do too little and you’ll get someone without the needed skills; do too much and you’re likely to scare off a good candidate, or simply lose out to a competitor’s offer. This is particularly true in today’s competitive job market, where accountants are leaving their jobs in droves.

The answer is to build a streamlined recruiting process that includes fast and accurate pre-employment tests.

Pre-Employment Tests: An Essential Tool

Before hiring, pre-employment tests help you quickly evaluate a candidate’s skills, knowledge, and personality traits. They provide valuable insights into a candidate’s potential performance in the role.

There are several types of pre-employment tests tailored for accountants:

  • Technical proficiency tests assess candidates’ accounting knowledge and expertise, ensuring they have the required skills.
  • Soft skills assessments evaluate a candidate’s interpersonal and communication skills, which are crucial for collaborating with colleagues and clients.
  • Cognitive and problem-solving evaluations measure a candidate’s critical thinking and analytical abilities, which are essential for solving complex financial challenges.

Incorporating pre-employment tests into your hiring process reduces the risk of hiring mistakes, saving your company time and resources in the long run by selecting candidates who are better suited for the role.

Craft a Targeted Job Description

When crafting a job description for the accountant position, it’s crucial to identify specific requirements that the role demands. This includes essential skills, educational qualifications, and any industry-specific certifications or experience necessary for the job.

Clearly state the technical competencies, such as proficiency in accounting software or financial reporting, and soft skills, like attention to detail and problem-solving abilities. This helps candidates understand the expectations of the role.

Finally, be sure to highlight the pre-employment test requirement in the job description. Let candidates know that their performance in these tests will be a factor in the selection process. This transparency encourages candidates to prepare and showcase their best abilities during the assessment.

Design a Streamlined Application Process

Create a user-friendly application portal that simplifies the application process. A well-designed portal should be intuitive, with clear instructions and an easy-to-navigate layout. This enhances the candidate experience and encourages more qualified individuals to apply.

Within the application process, ensure that candidates can access and complete the assessments without technical difficulties or confusion. Make sure the application process is straightforward and easy: Candidates should be able to submit their applications, including test results, with minimal hassle.

A streamlined process can attract more top-quality candidates and save time for applicants and your HR team.

Screen and Shortlist the Best

The pre-employment assessment results should enable your first screen. A well-designed test will help you quickly identify those who meet the job requirements and proceed to the next stages of the hiring process.

Establish clear criteria for shortlisting candidates. Determine the key factors for the accountant position, such as test scores, relevant experience, and specific qualifications. Setting these criteria in advance ensures consistency and fairness in the selection process.

Structure the Interview

Establish a structured interview process to maintain consistency and fairness. This involves preparing standardized questions and a clear evaluation rubric for all candidates, ensuring that each interviewee is assessed using the same criteria.

However, keep in mind each candidate’s test performance during the interview. Tailor interview questions to explore areas where the pre-employment tests indicated strengths or weaknesses. This approach allows you to understand a candidate’s abilities better and ensures alignment with the test results.

It’s a good idea to ask candidates about their assessment performance and delve deeper into areas where they excelled or may have shown room for improvement.

Don’t forget to assess soft skills and cultural fit during the interview. While test results provide valuable insights into technical skills, use the interview to evaluate a candidate’s interpersonal abilities, teamwork, and alignment with your organization’s culture and values.

Check References … Twice!

Verify candidate qualifications through thorough background checks. This includes confirming educational credentials, certifications, and any relevant work experience.

You’re hiring someone to manage your money, after all. Don’t skimp on the reference checks that could yield red flags. Contact previous employers, supervisors, or colleagues to gather insights into the candidate’s work ethics, skills, and how they fit into a team.

Align the findings from reference and background checks with the results of pre-employment tests. Look for consistencies or discrepancies between the two sources of information, helping you make a more informed decision on the candidate’s suitability for the accountant position.

Make the Offer

Wrap up the selection process by reviewing all candidate data, including pre-employment test results, interview performance, references, and background checks. Ensure you’ve thoroughly assessed each candidate’s qualifications and fit for the accountant role.

Craft competitive job offers with a competitive salary and consider other benefits, such as healthcare, retirement plans, and professional development opportunities. A compelling offer can attract top talent and increase the likelihood of acceptance.

If relevant, consider post-offer testing. Some roles may benefit from further assessments or evaluations after extending the offer. This can help ensure the candidate possesses the skills and qualifications to excel.

Onboard and Integrate

An accepted offer is not the end of a successful hiring process. Welcome the new accountant to the team with a warm and informative orientation. Make them feel a part of the organization by introducing them to colleagues, explaining the company culture, and highlighting their role’s significance.

Provide the necessary training and orientation to help the new accountant adapt to their responsibilities smoothly. This may include specific software or process training, as well as an overview of the company’s financial systems and procedures. Continuously assess the accountant’s performance against pre-hire test results throughout their integration. This ongoing evaluation ensures they meet the expectations set during the hiring process and can provide additional training or development opportunities if needed.

In conclusion, the streamlined screening and hiring process, augmented by pre-employment tests, offers a more efficient and effective way to select accountants who are best suited for the job. By incorporating these tests, businesses can identify top talent and minimize the risk of hiring mistakes. It is essential to encourage a data-driven approach to accountant hiring, as this benefits the organization in the short term and paves the way for a more robust and reliable recruitment strategy in the long run.

Guest blogger Ken Crowell is the founder and CEO of EmployTest. EmployTest has helped more than 7,000 corporate and government customers of all sizes in every US state and Canadian province and more than 17 countries across six continents. Contact Ken at [email protected]

FuseCFO provides recruiting services for accountants, and we always use pre-employment testing so you can be sure you’re getting the best team possible! Contact us to build your own team, or to use our outsourced accounting services for more immediate help.

Image Credit: Free Stock photos by Vecteezy

Originally Published

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