Reference checking is a tedious task. It’s also among one of the least reliable ways to determine whether a candidate is likely to be effective in your practice.
However, you can increase the reliability and validity of reference checking by structuring your questions to pick out transferable skills and behaviours considered universal to success in any accounting practice in 2020 and beyond.
Luckily for you, that work has been done by the collective might of the ACCA, who put considerable research into what makes an effective accountant in a world shifting from compliance to advisory work:
ACCA identified 7 core competencies associated with success in a changing accounting world:
So, what are the most effective questions to ask accountant candidate’s referees in uncovering whether your candidate is likely to perform in a changing world of accounting and bookkeeping work?
Referee Questions for Accountants
If you’re going to make reference checking a valuable exercise, you need to interview your referees as effectively as you interview your candidates, using a technique called competency or behavioural interviewing.
Competency-Based Interviewing Checklist
Before we run through the competency-based referee questions, let’s quickly review what competency-based interviewing is and whether you need support in delivering this technique.
This method is hardly new but remains the most highly rated interview technique in structuring interviews to get consistent results and is based on the premise that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.
The core element is to insist that candidates provide you with specific examples of actual experiences and to avoid hypothetical scenarios and generalisations at all costs.
If you are not trained in Competency or Behavioural Interview Techniques, we strongly recommend that you bring someone who is onto your recruitment panel until you get trained and comfortable.
The ACCA Accounting Competencies & Referee Questions to Address them:
1. Technical & Ethical
“The skills and abilities to perform activities consistently to a defined standard”
Interviewing people on how good they are technically is never as good as asking them to prove their technical competence. Take a look at www.accountests.com for a suite of accounting technical tests to add to your selection process
“The ability to acquire and use knowledge: thinking, reasoning and solving problems”.
“The ability to use existing knowledge in a new situation, to make connections, explore potential outcomes, and generate new ideas”
4. Digitally Savvy
“Awareness and application of existing and emerging digital technologies, capabilities, practices, strategies and culture”
5. Emotional Intelligence
“Ability to identify your own emotions and those of others, harness and apply them to tasks, and regulate and manage them”
“The ability to predict future trends accurately by extrapolating existing trends and facts and filling the gaps by thinking innovatively”.
“The ability and skills to understand customer expectations, meet desired outcomes and create value”
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.accountests.com
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