When a position opens up in your finance department, you can’t just casually post a job opening and interview the first couple candidates you get. In order to make the right decision, you have to be very thorough with the vetting process from start to finish.
What to Look for When Filling Financial Positions
Whether it’s sales, marketing, finance, or anything in between, each individual you welcome into your organization has an impact on the health of the company. While one bad hire might not totally damage your company, multiple ineffective hires in a row can be cancerous.
Not only do they go against what your company stands for, but they slowly convince other employees that there are 'better' ways of doing things – both in what they say and how they handle themselves.
Financial positions are unique because they touch your company’s most precious asset: money. Irresponsibility and inconsistency in this area will eventually rot your organization from the inside out. And while you can’t hit on 100% of your hires, you can give yourself a greater chance of being successful by knowing exactly what you’re looking for.
Here are some specific issues and characteristics you’ll want to pay attention to:
1. Personal Fiscal Responsibility
Would a mental health clinic hire someone to be a family psychologist if that individual had a history of child abuse, two kids with long criminal records, a crumbling marriage, and a long history of poor decision making in the parenting department? Probably not. In order to be considered for a job position, you need to prove that you can make smart choices on a smaller scale.
The same should be true in financial positions. If you’re hiring someone who is going to be tasked with leading your company’s financials, they need to be able to run their own household’s financials. One way to evaluate where they stand is by studying a candidate’s credit report. While you have to be cautious and tread lightly when running credit checks on job applicants, it can provide some valuable information that may not be readily apparent on the surface.
2. Long-Term Potential
High turnover in important financial positions can be deadly for an organization that needs reliability. When hiring, you should look for candidates who exhibit signs of stability. You aren’t just hiring to fill a temporary need. In an ideal world, every candidate you hire would have long-term potential. It’s impossible to know what the future holds, but a candidate’s resume can give you a glimpse into their loyalty and ambitions.
3. Innate Problem Solver
'Employers rely on employees who will pull through in challenging times,' says Skiddy Von Stade, who has filled dozens of finance positions in his career. 'A top finance candidate takes action to find solutions - regardless of the situation or fault.'
In other words, good finance candidates are innate problem solvers who simply have a knack for taking action when there’s a specific need or issue that needs to be dealt with. These are the people you want on your team.
4. Good Grasp of Modern Technology
While a candidate’s grasp of financial concepts is most important, you should be wary of hiring anyone who doesn’t have a good handle on modern technology. As you know, technology plays a critically important role in finance and you need people who can quickly adapt to the different tools, applications, and platforms that your business uses.
5. Attention to Detail
Some jobs require individuals to take an aerial view of what’s happening, while others demand attention to detail. Positions in accounting and finance fall into the latter category. You need candidates who can zoom in and focus on very specific elements of the job. In addition to speaking with references and past employers, you can learn a lot about how a person thinks by asking good behavioral questions.
6. Personality (In Context of Company Culture)
You want to be careful not to make hiring decisions based on shallow factors, but personality is something to think about. You want someone who is going to fit in with your company culture. This doesn’t mean they have to totally conform to every little aspect of your company’s flavor – diversity is good – but they should be a natural fit. Not only will this enhance their satisfaction, but it’ll avoid creating unnecessary friction in the organization.
Don’t Take Any Decision Lightly
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a new CFO or an entry-level accounting position, the people you hire in your finance department will ultimately influence the health of your organization. Instead of glossing over the hiring process and selecting the first applicant who looks good on paper, take your time and carefully scrutinize each candidate.