Whether you’re building an accounting firm or expanding your current team, you’ll probably find that hiring new team members can be a daunting task. We get it. You’re an accountant. You have clients to take care of, and your workflow can’t be put on hold for you to figure out the hiring process. On the other hand, if you make the wrong hire, your firm can be negatively affected for weeks or months to come, if not longer. So what kind of workflow can help you get the hiring process down? How can your firm, even if it’s still small compared to others, compete with corporate giants to get great new members on your team? Renee Daggat from Admin Books has worked out a hiring workflow that has helped build her firm to multiple team members. What is her workflow? How can you imitate her process, whether you’re hiring people online or in person? Listen or read below to find out. In our conversation with Renee, we talk about:
Figuring out what to say on a job posting and interview
What kind of accountants Renee looks for
Including team members in the hiring and selection process
How to compete with larger firms when hiring
Trusting your gut when it comes to judging new hires.
How to Hire the Right Person for Your Accounting Firm
The hiring process is all about finding the right person. You post an ad online or elsewhere, you get back replies, and then you narrow that list of applicants down to find the best fit for your company. But how can you make the right choice when you’re hiring someone online, someone you may never meet in person? How can you make sure that your next hire will fit with your firm’s culture and style? Here are the steps Renee shared with us. As you can imagine, it all starts with the job ad you put out online. The Job Ad The ad, or posting, you put out online, if you put it on the right job-search websites, might be seen by hundreds of prospective hires. That is a good thing. You want to cast the broadest net so you find that one gem of a team member to add to your company. But just because you are posting wide doesn’t mean that you want to sift through dozens of applications and resumes for people that are obviously a bad fit for your company. So is there a way to narrow down your search from the start? Absolutely! One trick Renee uses is to ask the applicant to do something unique and specific in their application process. For example, she’ll ask applicants to put “I’m a Rockstar!” in their email subject lines. This helps weed out those applicants that didn’t take the time to read the instructions carefully. After all, when hiring an accountant, it’s important to find someone that is detail oriented, right? You could also ask applicants a question that they have to Google in order to provide the answer. That proves that they are taking the time to fill in the application correctly, meaning they really want this job, and they have the basic ability to use online tools to find information. The First Interview Little tricks during the initial application process can help narrow down the field, but you’ll still have several prospective hires to interview. How can you make your interview as productive as possible? Renee spends about 30 minutes for this first interview. In addition to asking general questions about the person and their work history and skills, she likes to add in off-the-wall, personal questions. “What would you do if you won the lottery?” “Who do you most admire, and why?” “What’s your favorite book?” The purpose behind these questions? It helps you see how confident and self-aware the person is. It also helps you get a glimpse into their personality, which can help you find out if that person would be a good fit for the culture and personality of your firm. In fact, speaking of personality, Renee has her prospective hires fill out a personality test just to see how they would work with the rest of her team. You may or may not want to go that far, but it is certain that getting to know the prospective hire’s personality will help you, especially if you have a small, close-knit team. The Second Interview Renee’s second interview is done through video conferencing. Why is this important? For one thing, any firm that works remotely will rely on video communication for interactions both within the company and with clients. So it would be essential that any new hire can look presentable on a webcam. Are they comfortable in front of a camera? Are they able to run the conferencing software without troubles? Is their background presentable? Those questions may make or break a hiring decision, depending on the way your firm works. The Team-Based Interview Renee invites other members of her team on the third interview. At this point in the process, she may only have a few prospective hires left to consider. During this group video conference, the team members all get to introduce themselves, and the prospective hire can introduce him or herself, as well. Since these are the people the new hire will be working with, it’s essential that they are able to get along well. In addition to that, those team members may make observations that you, the employer, wouldn’t have seen. They may spot possible problems with the applicant, or, on the flip side, they may make see things they appreciate that you didn’t notice on your own. That insight can be invaluable. As an added bonus, involving the entire team in a hire means everyone will be more likely to work together afterward. A more united team can work faster and stronger than without that buy-in. Final Decisions Even after going through all of the aforementioned steps, you may find yourself with two or three options to consider. They all seem like wonderful fits, but you only have the budget to hire one. What can you do? When making your final decision, there are a few additional points you can consider. For example, how comfortable is the person with technology? For an online firm, this is especially important. How fast can they type? That is something Renee takes into consideration, even having applicants take a free online typing test as part of the application process. You may also consider references, review any notes from previous interviews, and have a final look at their resume. Then, compiling all that information, you’ll probably be able to make an informed decision. Constantly Improving your Hiring Workflow As you continue to grow your team, you’ll come to see what works and what doesn’t work. Renee has made a few mistakes in her past hires. Each time, however, she was able to see what she could do with future hires to improve that process. Like any other workflow in your business, you can add and remove steps to better accommodate your particular needs. Has a personality test helped you make better decisions in the past? Continue to use it. Did a recent hire not work out as you’d hoped? Was there a question or test you could have given at some point in the recruitment process that could have identified a potential problem? Implement that new step in the future. Being reactive in this way, you’ll constantly evolve your hiring process to meet the unique needs of your firm, eventually coming to a workflow that works uniquely for you and your company, helping you to build a dream team of rockstar partners.