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"Across the Board" (January) highlights the increasing level of interaction between CFOs and corporate boards, certainly a positive development. However, I encourage boards and audit committees interested in providing sound oversight of financial reporting not to stop at the CFO level, but to interact with lower-level financial executives to some degree.
Our research on financial-statement fraud indicates that the CEO and/or CFO were implicated in more than 80 percent of public-company accounting frauds from 1987 to 1997. Therefore, in an accounting fraud setting, boards interacting only with the CEO and CFO may just be talking to the main perpetrators of the fraud. Because so many accounting frauds are orchestrated by top executives, boards and audit committees need access to company personnel beyond the small group of top executives.
Dana R. Hermanson
Professor of Accounting
Kennesaw State University
A Little Knowledge Helps
Regarding your article about hiring practices ("Revenge of the Nerds' Bosses," TechWatch, September 2004), I fully agree that a multistep and thorough method is essential to hiring technical staff. However, I have two concerns.
First, the greatest frustration for me when interviewing has been a lack of knowledge by those conducting the interviews. Employers must take the time to educate themselves on the concepts and terminology relevant to their situation. They do so for accounting, managerial, and other disciplines, but technology still instills fear. That fear prevents many people from taking the time to know what they are talking about.
Second, I disagree that scheduling an excessive number of interviews with as many people as possible is necessarily a good idea. This indicates great uncertainty and heavy bureaucracy within a company — two things any IT person (or any prospective employee of any type) would see as a big warning sign.
Being an educated employer can simplify the hiring process without scaring away qualified IT candidates. There may be a dearth of unqualified technical prospects in the market due to the dot-com bust, but treating us in a "try before you buy" fashion only ensures hiring below the highest caliber of employee. For every company interested in a dozen interviews and an insulting probationary contract period, there are other firms willing to treat a qualified candidate with respect and commitment.