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The Final Hurdle:
Selecting the Best Finance Talent for your team


Determining who makes the final cut:

It’s true that there is a shortage of good candidates out there at the moment, but even so, if you advertise for a Financial Analyst, Bookkeeper or Controller, your inbox will still overflow with a plethora of fairly decent applications. For more specific roles such as a Director of Finance , CFO, or Manager of Financial Reporting, you may only receive a handful of quality applications.

The filtering of these applications starts with the screening process. The actual assessing then occurs during the interview process. But often it’s during the bench-marking (or short listing) process where if you are not careful you can in fact make some pretty serious hiring errors.

If you are lucky enough to have selected more than one candidate to invite in for interview, you must ensure that you have some structure around your interviewing process. There is no point asking the first candidate a series of behavioural- or competency-based questions and then asking the other candidate(s) an entirely different set of questions.

Each candidate being interviewed for the same position must be asked exactly the same set of questions. And then, like a teacher marking a set of essays, you then need to decide what in your opinion constitutes a very good response, a mediocre response and a mediocre or insufficient response. Once again having a well-defined performance profile will certainly help you here.

Think of an organisation that may be required to hire a large group of people who will do exactly the same task. For example an airline hiring a new team of flight attendants; a bank putting on a new shift in their call centre; or a new hotel opening up that will need an entire team of front desk staff. The dedicated recruitment team will interview dozens (if not hundreds) of candidates for these roles and each candidate will be asked exactly the same set of questions.

You will more than likely be looking for just one new team member at a time. Assuming you are not an airline, bank or hotel chain, even though you might not be looking to hire a group of people, you still need to ensure you have a fair assessment and bench-marking process in place so that ultimately you end up hiring the candidate who literally ticks all the boxes.

Determining who makes the final cut:

Just because you think you have identified the perfect candidate, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the candidate thinks they have found the perfect job. You may have interviewed them a few times, you may have even brought them in to meet the rest of the team, and the reference checks might have been glowing. This still doesn't mean your star candidate is going to accept your offer. So many things can go wrong at this point, and as an employer you need to be aware of these and also be aware of what you can do to prevent your recruitment process from going pear shaped at such a critical stage.

The candidate may have another offer in the wings, their current boss might decide to throw more money at them when the try to resign, he or she might just get cold feet, perhaps a husband, wife, partner, child, or good friend will try to influence them against the decision, or maybe at the last minute the candidate will decide that things really aren’t too bad at their current place of work.

In order to prevent such last minute unexpected surprises, you need to be on your game right from the very first interview.

So here are a few additional questions you must get into the habit of asking your candidates during your interview – once you have gone through the competency- and behavioural-based questions.

“Where are you up to in your job search?”

“What other interviews have you been to either through recruiters or directly?”

“Who else is really involved in your decision making process?”

“What will your boss say when you hand in your resignation?”

“What will you do if they offer you more money to stay?”

“What are you really looking for in your next job?”

In order to ensure that you have an offer that your candidate can’t (or won’t) refuse, you need to know the answer to these questions right from the start. If a candidate turns your offer down and says they have accepted another job, their husband isn't comfortable with them working so far from home, or they have accepted a counter offer from their current employer, unfortunately it’s your fault for not having raised these questions at the outset.

By the time you get the stage where you are ready to put together an employment contract, you should have no doubt at all in your mind that the candidate will not sign on the dotted line. Every time you speak to your candidate throughout the hiring process you should be asking them something along the lines of “So has anything changed since we last spoke”? If you don’t ask, they won’t tell you about other jobs they've applied for, other interviews they've been to, a promotion they’re really hoping to get internally. And if you don’t ask you might just be let down at the last minute.

When you are ready to go ahead with an offer, it’s always a good idea to make a verbal offer first. Call the candidate, sound excited for them, let them know how keen you are to have them come on board. Talk through the role and core responsibilities again, be clear on the salary you would like to offer them and when you’d like them to start. You will certainly get a good feel for what they’re thinking. Then if for some reason your candidate does turn it down, you haven’t wasted any time putting together a formal employment contract. But if they do verbally accept, there is nothing wrong with telling the candidate they will receive an official letter of offer within 24 hours.


In summary

• Each candidate being interviewed for the same position must be asked exactly the same set of questions.

• You will also need to establish a rating scale

• Ensure you have a fair assessment and benchmarking process

• Ask where they are up to in their job search in the first interview

• Ask what other interviews they have been to either through recruiters or directly

• Ask who else is really involved in their decision making process from the outset


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