The question on the mind of small and large accounting firms in this job market is: where is the top talent that I’m looking for to fill my open position? The fact is that in this day and age, the candidate is in the position of power during the interviewing process. With the unemployment rate at a level we haven’t seen in quite some time, businesses are now more than ever in a desperate race to reach qualified candidates before they receive offers from competitors. 

    While a strong candidate may be an asset for your company, without the right dynamic with your existing team, all of those strengths may be for nothing.

    So the question then becomes: how do I find the person with the best talent AND the best motivational and cultural fit for my business? You’re not alone in this question–it is the same question being asked by recruiting professionals all across America right now. Here are three things that those professionals in larger companies are doing today that may be what your accounting firm is missing in its interviewing process.

    1. Make sure you’re sourcing the right talent

    This step comes with a caveat: in order to source the right talent, you need to have an idea of what the right talent looks like for the position you’re trying to fill. If you haven’t already, write a list of the personality traits that you are looking for an applicant to have. These traits should be different than the technical expertise you include in a job posting. Some examples of those traits are a person who is a strong communicator, someone who isn’t afraid of conflict, an innovator, etc.

    Once you’ve identified both the technical knowledge and the personal characteristics you’re looking for, start to brainstorm how that may be reflected in a resume, or by answering a question over the phone. Identifying these items will help you cut down 50 applicants into 5 viable applicants.

    For example, say you are looking for an entry level accountant. You might understand that for the level you are offering, you need someone who has less professional experience, but who has other experience that reflects potential in a role. Indicators of potential may be multiple internships, leadership positions in the community, or even personal hobbies. These personality traits are what you want to search for beyond the standard “2 years’ experience in accounting, working with Microsoft Excel” line in a resume or cover letter. They are examples of drive, innovation, and leadership that point to a candidate who has a lot of potential in your company.

    Beyond looking for the right pieces on a resume, make sure you are posting your job opening across multiple platforms to ensure that you aren’t interviewing the same type of candidate twenty times.

    Finally, be picky about who you bring in for an interview. Make sure that the individuals you have selected really knock it out of the park on paper and over the phone. Having so few candidates may be discouraging at first, but it will save you time and frustration while searching for that person with the perfect fit.

    2. Have your team’s buy-in during the interviewing process

    This step is incredibly important, especially in small firms. The typical interviewing process for small firms involves meeting with the owner/manager who will be directly responsible for the new hire you are bringing in. While this manager’s input is essential, equally important is the perspective of the peers of the individual who will be filling that position. If possible, be sure to include these other employees in the interviewing process. Even if this means having them conduct a tour of the facility or only asking the applicants a few questions–it only takes a minute or two to pick up what may be a monkey wrench in your carefully balanced work ecosystem. Beyond that, including your employees in the interview process will assist in continuing to create an environment where they feel respected, involved, valued, and heard.

    3. Create a fabulous onboarding experience

    Finding the right person is 75% of what it takes to fill a position perfectly to build a superstar team. That final 25% is entirely dependent on what you do on the first day of work for your new hire. The worst thing you can do is bring a person in without any introductions and jump right into training them. Even in the most basic job, it is critical to introduce the new hire to the people that they will be working with on a daily basis. Beyond that, if possible, provide them with any training documents or manuals and a peer who they can ask questions. Your employee manual should clearly outline the type of behaviors you are looking for in an employee (on time, communicates well, even-tempered, etc.). Those examples can be as simple as providing a few example scenarios, providing the type of responses that you expect or are typical in your company. If you want to go above and beyond, set up a meeting with your new hire at the end of their first week to check in on how they’re doing and see if they have any questions for you. Directly after this meeting, set up time with their peer mentor to discuss their performance and any behaviors that may need to be watched or modified. If necessary, set up a follow-up meeting in a week or so to check back in.

    More than anything, following these three tips will help you begin to zone in on what exactly you are looking for in an employee beyond the technical expertise that they can provide. Contemplating the structure of your company culture and the characteristics that make a “good fit” will already put you ahead of the hiring curve.

    If you are finding value in these blog articles, you may want to check out our community of small to medium size accounting/bookkeeping firms.  Our set of systems can truly turn your business around and reduce the stress load you carry.  

    For more information, please go to


      Get off the Wheel Systems and Procedures for Greater Profits & Reduced Stress

      By: Diane Gardner 

      This Book is for you IF…

      You are an accountant, bookkeeper, or tax preparer with employees and one of the following describes you: 

      Order Here

      Share This: