Recruiting an accountant

  1. Read the 10 types of accountant tips sheet and decide what you are actually after
  2. Bear in mind that passing accountancy exams is really quite tough. Some people like doing exams but are not necessarily actually that good at a real job. Others can be really good at their job, but exams can be a bit of a grunt. I know which I would prefer
  3. Age is an attitude. Accountancy architypically attracts people who are staid and risk averse – which means you can get 27 year olds who are more died in the wool conservative and staid than most 60 year-olds. However, this trait does not apply to all. there are also plenty of energetic, adaptable and open-minded mature candidates with far more get up and go than others half their age. So be open minded as to the age thing
  4. Traditional recruitment consultants are risk-averse beings who would have you believe that the only person capable of fulfilling a role in your organisation is someone who is doing an identical job for someone else. So pretty much the only way you can attract them is salary. And if you do so, you have just proven their loyalty can be bought. Is this a characteristic you admire or want in a key person in your team?
  5. In fact, accountants (well the good ones anyway) have had years of business education and experience of quickly getting to grips with myriad diverse  businesses and sectors. Yes, certain sectors have learning curves (financial services, manufacturing) but these things are usually self-selecting
  6. Do not be shy to ask some specific accounting questions about the quirks of your business though, along the lines of “how would you treat such and such expenditure?” I was once on the receiving end of the most brilliant interview performance by a candidate. Fortunately, I had some questions of that ilk up my sleeve, when it became clear it was all presentation and no substance. There was no right answer, but I wanted to hear the thinking process – but instead got stunned, stumped silence. Phew, could have made a big mistake!
  7. If you are going to take on someone relatively high-powered, you need to be willing to listen, particularly when they tell you the uncomfortable truths you probably do not want to hear. If you are not going to listen, save some money and get yourself a sycophant. But budget that you will need that cash later (and more) when it all goes horribly wrong
  8. Do they ‘get’ your business in the round, or does it feel like they will just be coming to crunch some numbers?
  9. Don’t ignore personal fit, you need to work closely with this person for the foreseeable future. Do not take on someone who will rub you up the wrong way (even if it’s just by something silly like a verbal tic or though being a sniffer)
  10. Ask them what they think of Sage’s accounting software. If they like it, show them the door straight away. There are so many better choices available

Next: Wise definitions to bear in mind