Hiring accounting talent to your firm is easier said than done, especially in an age where professionals tend to demand more from their potential new workplace.
Accounting is already an attractive career choice because it’s purpose-driven and drives sustainable business. As the profession evolves and new services are continuously added to client service portfolios, accounting is predicted to gain popularity among young professionals.
So, how do you present your firm as the best choice? And how do you find the right applicant for your new accountant role?
We’ve investigated what makes young recruits tick and outlined key interview questions to ask a new accountant and ultimately help you find the right candidate faster.
Aside from having a talent for number-crunching, there are many other reasons more young professionals choose an accounting career, including:
It’s a stable and growing industry
Virtually every business needs the support of individual CPAs or a whole accounting team — and that need is not likely to go away. Even the average person has reasons to hire an accountant from time to time. As long as businesses exist and people need help with taxes, there will be a need for accountants.
Additionally, predictions show that accounting job prospects will grow in the near future. Employment in the accounting field will grow 10% from 2016 to 2026 in the US alone, which is faster than the national average rate for all occupations in the country.
Opportunities to progress
Most accounting professionals begin as an entry-level associate, but the many progression opportunities, either through on-the-job performance, becoming a CPA or alike, is a big selling point. The wealth of options available within financial services (auditing, bookkeeping, tax accounting, etc.) is also why accounting is such a sought-after career choice. Young professionals can choose their own path within the profession.
Being part of a larger network
Accountants tend to support other accountants, and accounting associations like INAA offers endless opportunities to network, both in social and professional settings. Many new accountants are drawn to that sense of community, and the many resources they can access to help answer tricky accounting questions or get career advice.
Doing social good
The accountant’s role has extended far beyond the professions’ simple bookkeeping and tax accounting parts during the pandemic. As the world propelled into unchartered territory, accountants also became business advisors and consultants for their clients. Sometimes even a shoulder to cry on. Accountants’ role in supporting small businesses through tough times is similarly appealing to emerging professionals.
With advances in technology changing the way accountants work, you must look for prospects that fit into the new job profile. Today’s accountants are required to do much more than crunch numbers. Businesses want emotionally intelligent, socially aware, and empathetic accounting professionals with diverse business and technology experience.
On top of that, accounting professionals need the ability to adapt and evolve as the profession does. Research by Australian recruitment firm Robert Half indicated that 89% of CFOs in Australia struggle to find skilled finance staff, mainly due to a lack of the required niche and technical skills.
To help you recruit the best accounting talent, we’ve listed a few questions that will help you weed out the less desirable candidates to find the perfect fit for your firm.
“What is the difference between accounts receivable (AR) and accounts payable (AP)?”
If your firm is on the hunt for entry-level job candidates for bookkeeping or accounting clerk positions, it’s good to test their basic skills. Asking questions of this kind will reveal whether your potential new hires understand the fundamentals of accounting.
“Why do you want to work for us?”
This is a popular interview question for good reason: because asking a candidate why they want to work for your firm tells you a lot about their comprehension of the role. You’ll want a candidate with a sound grasp of your firm’s mission, goals and values, and who’s own professional goals align with them. The right candidate will answer this question confidently. It will give a clear insight into how excited and prepared they are for the role.
“What opportunities for self-improvement do you want to see in your next role?”
Professional development and career progression are highly sought out by current professionals. Among 8,000 next-gen professionals rank learning and growth opportunities as the most essential thing to job seekers.
You’ll want to find a candidate that demonstrates a passion for self-development and professional growth. The interviewee’s answer will reveal if they want a long-term future at your company and if they’re eager to become a valuable asset. You can also determine if the potential recruit’s skillset aligns with your firm’s future priorities.
What do you consider the top three skills of a great accountant?
Asking someone this question is another excellent opportunity to assess whether the new accountant candidate recognises the importance of general business knowledge, technology expertise, customer service skills and specialised experience that the role requires. You’ll want someone who can see beyond the numerical aspect of the accounting profession.
What accounting software are you familiar with? What digital innovation should we bring in next?
This question combination is highly relevant in today’s increasingly digitalised world. When hiring a new accountant, it’s good to focus on finding one that is comfortable with technology like cloud computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions like chatbots. You’ll also want your new recruit to have the ability to adapt to new procedures quickly. Asking what innovation to bring in next to your firm allows the candidate to demonstrate their knowledge of accounting software and technology in general as well as how well they know your firm.
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