Struggling to hire? Improve the interview experience
Firms and employers are having an especially difficult time hiring accountants. In the AICPA’s 2017 PCPS CPA Firm Top Issues survey, small firms with employees named “finding qualified staff” as their No. 1 concern.
The high demand for accounting talent can be closely tied to continued growth of the economy. Job growth for accountants and auditors between 2016 and 2026 is predicted to be 10%, which is faster than the projected national average of 7% for all occupations.
While there’s no silver-bullet solution for alleviating the frustrations being felt by CPA firms and organizations seeking to hire accounting talent, one way to begin is by improving the candidate experience across the recruitment process — starting with the job interview.
In short, the candidate experience can be defined as the attitude and behaviors aspiring candidates have about the recruiting process, including the stakeholders involved, the positions they’re applying for, and the organizations they’re applying to. The role the candidate experience plays within the recruiting process is monumental. It affects your ability to attract talent and influences your organization’s brand and its bottom line.
To deliver a compelling candidate experience throughout the interview process, you must first take into full account the high level of sophistication this candidate pool has. Know what’s important to them and be prepared to proactively address — and even advocate for — what they want.
For example, privately held companies may want to give candidates an accurate impression of the company’s overall stability and viability in the market. CPA firms might want to address what the average partner track timeline looks like (for local and small regional firms, reference recent partner promotions). You’ll also want to hit on billable-hour averages and community involvement.
Let’s drill down into the phases of the interview process and ideas for improving the candidate experience in each one:
Making an emotional connection by involving the team in the interview process will allow the candidate to understand the office dynamics, while also instilling trust (this is even more critical when conducting video interviews for a virtual office environment). Showcase your organization’s culture and benefits, highlighting any unique perks, and setting real expectations (in a recent LinkedIn survey, 44% of professionals said benefits like health coverage and paid time off would likely keep them at their current company for more than five years). Honesty is also key; the worst thing you can do to a candidate is not tell them something they should know.
As a hiring manager, the impact of the role you play is highly significant and should be championed inside your organization — and embraced by you! You are on the front lines and have the opportunity to positively influence the candidate experience throughout the recruiting process, from attracting and sourcing to onboarding. The interview is a key piece of that process, and an area where you can make a great impression on job candidates.
Troy Ashby, CPA, is founder and president of Benchmark Search, a Dallas-based firm specializing in direct hire recruiting, executive search, and temporary staffing for accounting and finance professionals. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Courtney Vien, a JofA senior editor, at Courtney.Vien@aicpa-cima.com.
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