Hiring the Right Accountants For Your Business

I’ve worked at a number of companies in my professional career. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned through my combined career experiences is that the accounting departments at each of these jobs tended to make or break my feelings about the employers. No, I don’t work in accounting, but working alongside accounting is an integral part of my career, and I’m convinced that many companies overlook the importance of hiring reputable employees to manage their accounting departments.

The best accountants are willing to answer one-too-many questions, eager to break down the different options for retirement plans or contributions to the company’s 401(k) plan, and consistently go the extra mile to make sure the employees’ needs are met. Those who aren’t the greatest always seem to be falling behind and frazzled, annoyed when people request an explanation of benefits or the company retirement plan, or are faithfully devoted to using an outdated bookkeeping system.

In today’s economic environment, numerous people are out of work and vigorously hunting for new jobs, so this allows businesses to be highly selective when it comes to choosing the right employees to join their accounting teams. Yet studying resumes and conducting interviews shouldn’t be the only things you rely upon in hiring new talent. Below are three key items to consider when looking for talented individuals to join your accounting teams.

To Have a CPA, or Not Have a CPA? That is the Question.

When it comes to the necessity of hiring individuals with a certified public accountant (CPA) designation, every business has its own preference. Most of the CPA accountants I’ve come across in my career are highly talented, continuously on the ball, and rarely make any significant errors. Does that mean that those who don’t have their CPA designation are necessarily not good accountants? Absolutely not! Recent college graduates are unlikely to have their CPA, but are often some of the best potential employee candidates for a company. One important thing to look for, however, is passion for growth, and if that means getting a CPA, then make sure the employee candidate expresses that in the interview. So, if you find yourself head over heels for a certain candidate that doesn’t have a CPA, ask them if they would consider obtaining their CPA or perhaps continuing their education through online courses. In fact, there are a number of online education courses that won’t pull the candidate away from the office. It’s all up to you and your company to decide whether or not a CPA designation is necessary.

Firm Size and Why It Matters

Accountants quickly develop a preference for company size when they begin their careers. Some thrive on the pressure of working at a large firm. Some like having the comfort and familiarity that comes with working at a small firm. Whenever you receive a potential candidate’s resume, take a minute to look over their experiences and ask yourself what type of accountant they are. Can they handle the pace of your business? Why after all these years of working at a large firm do they want to switch to a small firm? Do their previous employers seem similar to the type of business you run? More importantly, when the candidate comes in for an interview, ask them how they feel about the size of your firm. It’s important to see whether the candidate is searching for the right job, or is just searching for any job. Also, if they are hoping to transition to a different size firm, ask them why.

How Does their Personality Jive with the Company

Sometimes, you’ll have a great candidate waltz into your office and nail the interview. Especially if you’ve been searching for months for a new employee, it’s likely you’ll want to quickly hire them. Should you? Well, not so fast. When it comes to finances, you must put considerable trust in the people you hire. Not only are they in charge of the financial future of your company, they also handle any audits, payments, tax issues, and numerous other items your business may come across. Take your time in selecting the right accountant. In fact, consider having at least three interviews with a potential candidate to evaluate if their personality matches the company’s personality. Come up with potential scenarios or problems your business may come across, both financially related and not, and ask how they would handle them. Is their answer how you would envision yourself handling the problem? How about the rest of your company? Make sure that you are selecting candidates that not only fit with the personality of the company, but also with the employees that keep it running.

The hiring process is no picnic, but there is no reason it should be a headache. Consider these points when selecting any accountants to join your company.


Maria Rainier is an avid education blogger, particularly in the area of online learning and higher education. She’ll gladly dole out her wisdom to anyone who will read her advice, from prospective students considering online degrees to course instructors frustrated with the efficacy of their lesson plans. Send some comments her way!

© 2012, Maria Rainier. All rights reserved.

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  1. June 29, 2012    

    Great article Bruce :-) You’ve hit the nail on the head in a lot of ways.

  2. June 29, 2012    

    Thanks Nancy… not enough people think before they jump….

  3. July 2, 2012    

    Its strange how we look for people we like and agree with to do so many of the things we need done in our lives yet as a business person fail to do the same for our workers. A companies accountant is one position that a company needs a good fit and someone who is goal orientated and time sensitive. So you hit it right on with your article and your points are all well taken.

  1. Tax Roundup, 6/29/2012: Supreme Court Frenzy edition « Roth & Company, P.C on June 29, 2012 at 8:15 am

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