The accounting department is one of the most vital departments in your company. You need people who specialize in understanding the numbers and math of business to support those of you who make the sales and come up with new ideas. Accountants are the infrastructure of what makes a business able to function financially. You need to make sure that when you are hiring accountants, you are hiring competent people who are the best of the best. Here are ten ways to make sure that your accounting department is as prepared as possible for all the duties you expect of them.
1. Software Literacy
One advent that has made the field of accounting insurmountably easier in recent years is access to the mathematical powers of computers. Several software companies have capitalized on this, and have created programs specific to accounting needs. These programs include many advanced mechanics, such as revenue recognition, and if your accountants know how to use them effectively, they will be exceptionally valuable assets. However, just because a potential job candidate does not know how to use digital accounting software as a prerequisite, he or she can still be trained to use it as long as he or she has accounting skills from the start.
2. Formal Education
Make sure you make it abundantly clear in the application and interview processes that formal college education in a mathematics field, ideally accounting, is mandatory. A person who does not have a formal education in a field similar to accounting is completely unqualified for the job because of the mistakes he or she is likely to make. This will severely cut down the number of people who will apply for and be serious contenders for your job posting. This might seem like common sense, but it is always a good idea to reiterate your requirements.
3. Employment History
Another process that is generally common sense for many companies is checking employment histories for potential future employees. This is especially important in accounting. If your potential employee has a history of making accounting mistakes, you should be incredibly wary of hiring him or her. In accounting, mistakes can land a company in legal trouble if they are large or frequent enough, so you need your accountants to be as accurate as possible. Even if there is no history of employment termination based on errors, always check with past employers to see if there were clerical issues.
4. Give Your Employees a Say
To create the best experience for all your employees, both present and future, you need to make sure that all your new hires get along. This is true when hiring for any department, and accounting is no exception. There needs to be an open line of communication between all the employees, and that starts with good chemistry and a professional relationship. It is always nice if you can bring in the best job candidates to meet the people in your office to see who fits in the best.
5. Outline Responsibilities
People are often unpleasantly surprised when they come in for their first days on the job and their duties are not what they expected them to be. Be totally transparent about what the job you are offering will entail. That way, your potential employees know exactly what they are getting themselves into. Think about what you ask of your current employees every day and what duties are not currently being filled that need to be filled. Not only will this make your new employees more comfortable, but it will also give you a better sense of if you are hiring the best person for the job.
6. Form a Recruitment Strategy
If your business has several locations around the country, it is always a possibility that the different branches of the company can shuffle their employees around. That could be one of the best ways to get the best employees since those employees are already employed at your company. However, if you want or need to hire externally, you might want to consider assigning someone within your company to facilitate the hiring process. This hiring manager can be whoever you need it to be, as long as he or she knows what the company needs.
7. Curate Interview Questions
Interview questions are a staple of job interviews in almost any industry, but one benefit in the field of accounting is that you can ask specific questions that pertain to the exact skill set an accountant needs. Since accounting is more objective work than many fields, you can ask questions that have a single correct answer instead of an infinite number of open-ended answers. You can still ask open-ended questions to get a sense of the candidate’s general work ethic, but you do not have to limit yourself to those types of questions.
8. Critical Thinking
Even though an accountant’s job is significantly more object than the average employee’s, there is still room for plenty of critical thinking. Good accountants can find ways to save the company money in ways that no one had thought of before, and that requires a thorough understanding of the numbers as well as some creative thinking. Your interview questions can uncover whether or not your potential candidate has these skills, as can some research into past employers to ask about past achievements that could demonstrate an affinity for these skills.
9. Measure Commitment
Measuring commitment can be tricky because there is no concrete way to know how committed a person will be to a particular job or how long he or she plans on sticking around. You likely want an employee who plans on staying for an extended period of time so you can avoid having to fill a position time and time again. You can get an idea of how likely an employee is to stick around by looking at his or her timeline of previous jobs. Someone who has a history of leaving jobs after a few months will likely continue doing so in the future.
10. Trust Your Intuition
Sometimes the best thing you can do when considering a new employee is to trust your immediate impression. The points listed above are all great ways to find what you perceive to be ideal characteristics in an employee, but even the most comprehensive methods do not necessarily always provide perfect results. First impressions can tell you a lot about a person, and if you do not get a good first impression from someone, it can be a sign that something is off or that he or she does not have what it takes to fit into your workspace.
There is no single foolproof way to find and hire the perfect accountant, but one way to get as close as possible is by keeping all of the above points in mind on your search. Use your best judgment when it comes to hiring new people. As mentioned above, sometimes your intuition is the best tool at your disposal. Accounting is no easy task, so you need people who specialize in that area. When you have trustworthy people in your accounting department, your business is that much closer to becoming successful overall.