How To Hire a Candidate in a Tight Market

Top finance & accounting candidates are highly sought-­after and passive job seekers. These are MBAs and CPAs, and they’ve had strong career progression during the course of several years. When BVOH engages with candidates, we’re looking at the top 10 percent. Out of 15­20 relevant candidates, we typically select two to three with whom we’ll represent. These candidates aren’t job-­hoppers. They’re thoughtful about advancing their career and have work experience that shows constant progression at good companies. These candidates are constantly being recruited, but they won’t leave their position for a company they know little about and a position that doesn’t sound exciting. Beyond the initial job posting, you also want to bring your A-­game to the interview process. Let’s look at some strategies for finding and hiring the top accounting candidates in a tight market.

1. Distinguish Must­-Haves from Nice-to-­Haves

You’ll always have some non­negotiable requirements when it comes to hiring certain positions, but those depend on the opportunity. Remember that new team members can learn practical skills during on­-the-­job training, so take a holistic view of your top candidates.
You want to hire winners, so be willing to think outside the box when evaluating their work experience.
Focus on hiring athletes – those candidates who have a proven track record of success. You want to hire winners, so be willing to think outside the box when evaluating their work experience.

2. Hire for Both Aptitude and Cultural Fit

Seek out candidates who share your company’s values and whose personality suits the rest of your team. The smartest, most experienced applicant isn’t always the right choice if they won’t mesh well with the company environment. You can train people on a line item, but you cannot train integrity. Ensure that the core values and work ethic are in place before making an offer.

3. Value Intelligence Over Experience

Of course you want to hire someone who has some familiarity with your industry, but avoid the mistake of only considering people who have done this particular job before. If they’ve already learned everything they need to know about the position, they’ll quickly be looking for new challenges and opportunities to move up.
Avoid the mistake of only considering people who have done this particular job before.
The ideal candidate is a fast learner who is new to the role. Past success is a good indicator that someone can adapt to new challenges.

4. Maintain Your Momentum

Assume that serious applicants are taking multiple concurrent interviews and that they’ll receive several offers – the top candidates always do. Set clear objectives before each meeting and verse yourself in the person’s history before she comes in. Have a system in place for moving forward once you’ve identified a strong prospect. BVOH recently implemented a strategic interview process in which our recruiters bring in different people to assess specific skill sets. We have a plan of action at each step so we can move quickly once we find a good fit. This kind of regimented approach respects both the applicants’ and the hiring manager’s time.

5. Implement a Five­-Day Rule

Don’t let more than five days pass between steps in the interview process. You’ll lose candidates to another, faster­-moving company, and your first round interviews will have been a waste of time and resources. This comes back to having a plan before someone sits for an interview and knowing how to strategically move them through the hiring pipeline.

6. Sell and Assess Simultaneously

Does your office have spectacular views or gourmet chefs working in their cafeterias? Don’t be afraid to get out of the conference room and show candidates the perks of your workspace. Part of your interview can be focused on getting to know the candidate’s personality.
Don’t be afraid to get out of the conference room and show candidates the perks of your workspace.
Take a walk, grab a bite, and give the candidate a chance to see what it’s like as a part of your team. Good food or cold­-drip coffee may not tip the scales in your favor, but these small details can sweeten the deal and show off your culture. You’re selling your company to prospective hires as much as they’re trying to impress you.

7. Limit the Process to Two Rounds of Interviews

The best candidates are currently working in other positions and can’t afford to take off too much time for interviews. BVOH finds that 2­3 meetings are sufficient if your recruiter has properly vetted applicants and is sending you the right people.

8. Make Interviewing Your Top Priority

When you need to fill a position, you and your team must be flexible and willing to accommodate interviews in your schedule. Take the process seriously and give it the attention it deserves until you’ve found your ideal match. Otherwise, you’ll waste everyone’s time with inefficiencies, and you won’t get the caliber of applicants you want. When you’re hiring the best, you have to sell them on your company. You’re dealing with busy, no­-nonsense people who have zero qualms about dismissing bland or cumbersome organizations. How you conduct your hiring process speaks volumes about how you do business, so make sure your system accurately represents your culture.

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