To Interview or Not to Interview?
Why do people change jobs? What are they really looking for? What will make your firm attractive to them? Recruiters ask themselves these questions on a daily basis, and so should you.
Some of the answers to these questions are practical:
- a better work environment
- higher salary
- more opportunity for advancement
We've all heard this list so many times, we've gone “noseblind,” to quote a popular Febreeze commercial. Many firms say the same things on their websites: competitive salary; great work/life balance; career advancement.
Yet, in a job market where firms are all competing for accountants with three-to-seven years of experience, there are a few things that don't get nearly enough attention when selecting candidates for an interview.
Resumes shouldn't be treated as definitive documents: They should be viewed as “suggestions” of an applicant's skill set. Does it really matter if a candidate used different tax research software as long as they understand the work you are hiring them to do? You can train them to use new software. It's much harder - and maybe even impossible - to teach critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Read between the lines of the resume. Did the person have two previous jobs where he or she used the same skills without showing any obvious advancement? Is that something that fits with your firm's needs, or are you looking for someone who can take initiative and learn new skills?
Social media is a part of life. Embrace social media as a part of life because it is not going away. Remember that, if you look at a job applicant's Facebook or LinkedIn profile as part of your recruiting process. Naturally, you are going to weed out applicants who seem as if they won't fit with your firm's culture (for example, if they've posted a racist comment or bad-mouthed a previous employer), but does it really matter if they have a tattoo or post a picture with a beer in their hand? If it does, then you should toss their resume. But realize that every employee has a personal life, and they always will.
Use your in-person interviews wisely - and use your EQ as you do. Nonverbal clues like handshakes, body language and the ability to look you in the eye can be as important as a resume. They can tell you if the interviewee has good social skills - which may translate to how well they will interact well with others in the firm as well as with clients.
Be flexible. Don't automatically dismiss a candidate who needs to come in late on Mondays or leave early on Wednesdays. Additionally, if you are fortunate enough to have two great applicants, try to think of a way you can hire them both. And move quickly to hire, or you may find yourself starting your search over again.
We realize the job pool is tight and firms of all sizes are competing for the most talented accountants. It is the firms that are able to look beyond the resume who will be successful in hiring the coveted few.