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Hiring Accounting and Finance professionals:
No experience necessary!


 
 

The landscape of business is changing, but finance and accounting functions have been slow to respond. Despite maintaining a positive public outlook, many Senior Finance professionals are privately expressing concerns about their employee’s skills. They question whether their finance team has the skills needed to succeed in business today.

It seems candidates go to “interview school” to answer the skill based questions. They can even fake it till they make it and show you their best attitude, but how do you dig deeper and how important really are those skills? Isn’t doing the job well in most cases about more than technical skill? Then why do we require so much skill expertise, when what we really need to do is:

 

Hire for Attitude not just Skill 

Rapid and significant changes are occurring both inside and outside most organizations. In addition, continuous innovations in technology suggest that jobs (and the skills needed to perform them) will change dramatically starting now and on into the future. This situation requires you and other leaders in the organization to move beyond the traditional hiring model to “hire for attitude, train for skill.” This approach allows you to hire people who can change and evolve as their job changes and evolves. While this approach makes intuitive sense, many managers are often at a loss as to how to use this approach. What do managers need to do to hire for attitude? How can managers use the interview and other hiring tools to assess candidates’ attitudes?

IDENTIFY ATTITUDES

First, you must identify and clearly define the attitudes that drive successful performance on the job. One way to do this is to identify your top employees within the job and across the company to see what attitudes they share. As part of our consulting work we do at Halcyon Finance with clients, we frequently ask senior finance managers to identify their top employees and list what attitudes they have in common. The list typically looks something like this:

  1. Conscientious
  2. Dependable
  3. Flexible/open to change
  4. Good judgment
  5. Has high standards
  6. Honest/trustworthy
  7. Motivated/self-starter
  8. Strong work ethic
  9. Team player/works well with others
  10. Willing to put forth extra effort/to go the extra mile
 

Don’t ask if they can do, ask them to prove it - Assign a task

Put your candidate on the spot. Avoid the same old questions; ask them to do the job, right then, right there. Don’t ask if they can do, ask them to prove it.

 

Get them to tell you a story

Asking closed questions in an interview limits creativity and gives candidates a 50/50 chance of getting the right answer. Do you only want a 50/50 chance that they’ll stay and be productive? Ask them to tell you a story. “Tell me about a time when you and co-worker completed a project and received recognition.” Listen to the story and look for passion. Look for hints on how they prefer praise, get along with others, share credit with co-workers, or bad mouth their boss.

Listen to their body language and creative story telling. Much is revealed when a person tells you a story and almost always, the story will be true as most can’t make up that kind of detail on the fly. Maybe even ask them to tell you about what they absolutely LOVE to do?” and make sure it’s what you’re currently hiring for.

 

Hiring is tricky and getting the right person in the right job can be trickier. Keep in mind that finding the right person for the job is far more important than finding a person to fill the job. Want more work, keep filling jobs with those who think they know it all and tell you what you want to hear, but know little of themselves. Want more business and lower turnover; spend more time learning about the person than you do reading their resume.

 


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