The mantra “Hire for Attitude, Train for Skills” has been pushed at all employers for years now to the point where it is considered the prevailing opinion, with anyone suggesting the opposite subjected to accusations of being out of step in places like Linked-In.
However, almost every manager of accountants and bookkeepers typically have stories to tell of hiring people who couldn’t actually perform the technical requirements of the job, leading to unhappy, expensive and protracted episodes of dissatisfaction for clients, colleagues and everyone else.
Being a strong fit for the business’s culture, vision and values is great; but its quite handy if accountant recruits can actually do accounting too. “Heresy; block this email sender forever!” the HR & Culture people cry, but in case you also need accountants & bookkeepers who are technically competent, take a look at this 2-minute read and try a technical test yourself:
Pick-up nearly any business book or online forum and the recommendation is likely to be the same: when building a team, "hire for attitudes and train for skills". This seems to be the catchphrase in recent years for recruitment.
And while I agree that attitude/personality is extremely important, I'm also a realist and in today’s very busy & technologically advanced world, how many companies out there are going to teach their new recruit how to be a technically astute Accountant or Finance Leader?
The truth is, they aren't. They don't have the time and often don't have the resources to train the technical skills they're missing, hence why they're recruiting. And whilst it would be nice to have your pick of candidates who possess the technical skills and attitude to succeed in a role, the reality is, they are very hard to find as there is a massive increase in demand for technical accounting expertise from a large number of businesses.
Employers with difficult to fill positions are now shifting to skills-based recruitment rather than the attitude-based model of the past.
And the truth is, skills do matter. You'll agree with me if you've ever hired someone who simply cannot do their job.
The problem lies in assessing skills. What candidate's write on their CV doesn’t prove that they can apply those skills effectively, so here's how you can measure skill-sets in a more objective manner:
When reviewing candidate CV's keep an eye out for keywords, but dig a bit deeper.
Add skills-based questions to your culture-fit interview questions and find out how candidates use their skills. What did they actually accomplish using those skills?
Use skills tests in conjunction with face to face interviewing and reference checking to get a well-rounded picture of who candidates are at their core and how their traits and skills compare to the job description and future needs of the organisation.
Assessing skills can take a wide variety of forms. You may ask candidates for a writing sample, a project, or a presentation. For technical jobs with a quantifiable skill-set, you may ask your candidates to complete a skills assessment, or standardised test to objectively gauge their competency.
If you can’t already tell, we value objective analysis at Accountests!
Intrigued? Contact Us for more information.
Steve Evans has a whole career dedicated to enabling employers to attract, recruit, develop and retain talented individuals and teams, with particular expertise in candidate testing and assessment before jointly setting up Accountests in 2013. Accountests deliver the world’s only online suite of annually updated and country-specific technical knowledge tests for accountants and bookkeepers. www.au.accountests.com
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