Effective Hiring Strategies in a Candidate-Led Market

January 3, 2022

A combination of the Covid-19 pandemic and increasingly intuitive and powerful digital tools has led to a job market that is heavily stacked in favour of candidates. Labour shortages, and the rise of hybrid and remote working, has given skilled and experienced people options that they haven’t had before. 

Even before the shift in the market and candidate demands, there was a fierce war for talent globally, and Covid-19 has only accelerated this trend. To navigate this new reality, you need to adapt your strategy and tactics to attract (and to a slightly lesser extent, retain) the best accounting talent available to you. That’s where this article comes in.

An Efficient Recruitment Strategy

The overall market conditions mean that there are now more jobs available that have more attractive overall packages. This has been fuelled in part by the need for new staff, so companies have had to improve offers to remain competitive. As a result, not having an effective recruitment strategy is now even more of a detriment to firms. Building a cohesive, proven strategy and keeping it  constantly under review will enable you to move faster and more effectively when recruiting.

Employer Branding

Recruitment is essentially the art of attracting people to help you achieve your professional and personal goals. It’s much easier to attract people to work for you if you have a great reputation. 

A great reputation only comes from treating employees well over a sustained period of time. No matter how well you believe you’re doing in that department, it’s always good to look to improve. Real time employee insights from an employee engagement platform are a great starting point. Using these insights to inform decisions is ideal, instead of incorrectly assuming what needs to be done.

This particular point is something that needs to be implemented long term. However, even when the market cools off and starts to turn back in favour of employers, having a strong employer brand can have many tangible and intangible benefits to any company.

The Application Process

Whittling down the applicant pool from multiple possible candidates to the most appropriate one is a tricky task. We’ve split the process into key parts.

Clear Job Descriptions

One of the major issues that candidates have with job hunting is a lack of clarity in job descriptions. One tactic to combat this is to present a roadmap of what is expected of the candidate at specific points in time. The table below shows an example: 

Hypothetical role: Senior Accountant

  • 3 Months

    Analysis and assimilations of company finances, key stakeholders and workflows

  • 6 Months

    Conduct monthly review of all management accounts ; Oversees daily financial activities of management and payroll team members

  • 9 Months

    Create a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) manual for accounting policy and regulations, and roll out reconciliation procedures ; Advises managers and surveyors on purchasing and all other financial decisions

  • 12 Months

    Becomes one of the ‘go-to’ people in the company for any accounting needs.

In addition to this level of transparency, adding in a salary range goes a long way towards not wasting time on either side.

Interviewing Candidates 

When interviewing candidates, it’s important to have clear plans and execute those plans. We’ve outlined some tips when interviewing accountancy candidates. 


1/ Have a clear idea of what you’re looking for

We all know that accountants aren’t the same — for example, the requirement for an auditor for a Fortune 500 company and a management accountant for an SME don’t have that much overlap. 

During the recruitment process, everyone involved in the process needs to be aligned on exactly what (and to a greater extent, who) you’re looking for. If you’re not clear, candidates will likely become distrustful of your lack of confidence and clarity, and they might even end up turning down an offer if you decide to make one. 

Write down the tangible expectations of the prospective candidate and base your questions on this list. Deviation is of course natural, but your list should underpin the foundation of the interview. 



2/ Unconscious Bias Awareness

Sometimes, the way our minds are naturally programmed to protect us ends up working against us. Generally if we have a previous experience, good or bad, with something or someone, we tend to refer back to that experience when we come across a situation or person that is similar to it. 

For example, if someone wearing a yellow hoodie is rude to you in the morning, your brain might unconsciously be put off by a candidate wearing a yellow hoodie in an interview later that day — even if that person is an outstanding candidate and performs exceptionally in the interview. This type of prejudice can be detrimental to a person deserving of an opportunity, and you might miss out on hiring someone who can potentially help your business thrive. 

When interviewing a candidate, always be aware of your unconscious bias. If possible, try to interview with a colleague so that you can challenge each other’s opinion on how the interview went.



3/ Have a conversation

As much as an interview is a chance for you to sell your company to a candidate, it’s important not to oversell. Listing off a variety of reasons why your firm is a great place to work in person isn’t a great tactic, and it can rob a candidate of an opportunity to sell themselves. Remember, the candidate probably knows more about your company than you do about the candidate. Having a conversation is a great way to simultaneously get to know a candidate whilst promoting your firm. 



4/ Be Decisive and Realistic

In a savagely competitive candidate market, it can sometimes be tempting to promise things that you’re not quite sure you can deliver to secure the best talent. However, if you don’t deliver, it can cause a candidate to feel disengaged and possibly migrate to a competitor.  

Taking too long to respond to candidates can also be costly, as firms with better systems in place that respond promptly and move candidates through the hiring process quickly are at an advantage. The quicker and more effective your process is, the smaller the chance that a competitor can swoop in and take a candidate away with a better offer.


Attract Great Accountancy Candidates with INAA

Here at INAA, we connect accounting firms who aim to deliver quality professional services around a shared vision to make global business personal, and take personal business global. 

With every industry change, our collaborative association of international businesses is committed to driving the conversation around auditing and accounting.

Join today to start building powerful business relationships.