When hiring a new employee, businesses generally rely on “gut feeling”, the candidate’s work experience and personal references. When hiring a new bookkeeper, how can you know if a person is competent and honest before you hand over your company’s books?
Consider having the candidate take an assessment exam to test their capabilities. While there are several sources, for QuickBooks and bookkeeping we like the tests offered by the AccountEx Network.
In today’s environment it is often difficult to get good information from references, as companies have become hesitant to do more than confirm dates of employment. For references that come from sources other than employers the candidate is unlikely to give the name of someone who will not give a good recommendation.
Be sure that the candidate has the level of education and professional experience that you expect, and which is necessary for the position. Take the time to check personal and business references. Ask about work performance, time management, strengths and weaknesses. You may not get direct information, so listen to what is said “between the lines” and trust your instinct. You should also verify that someone actually graduated from a university or other program listed on their resume. This is important not only to make sure they have the credentials you expect, but also to make sure you are given honest information. In this environment of stolen identities, you might also consider reviewing the candidate’s personal and credit background. Some employers are even doing a “Google” search to check the person’s online and social media reputation. While many people have closed Facebook pages, if their page is open you might get a feel for the person. Do you really want to hire a person to handle money if Facebook is filled with pictures of them appearing drunk?
Discuss with the candidate his or her specific skills regarding computer programs in use by your office, high stress periods like year-end or tax time, and the ability to handle additional responsibilities as the company grows. Assess the candidate’s communication and multitasking skills as well as the ability to be a “team player”. If you have a good feeling going into the interview, you might want to plan to allow another employee to interview the candidate and give you their feedback.
Your first steps show this person is a good candidate, what next? How can you just hand over your carefully balanced books to a complete stranger without losing sleep!? You can purchase tests to test a job candidate’s QuickBooks and related Bookkeeping, Accounting or Consulting skills and knowledge level. With the AccountEx Network tests, the prospective hire gets an email link to the test. They download and take the test at their convenience, or yours, and you are notified of the results. If you become a member of the AccountEx Network Consultants network, up to 50 assessment exams are included in your annual fee. You can find more information about theAccountEx Network, and the exams, at www.accountexnetwork.com. While the exams won’t guarantee your new hire works out, at least you will know they understand the basics.
About the author: Caren Schwartz is an Advanced QuickBooks Certified Professional Advisor and a member of the Intuit Accounting Professionals Trainer and Writer Network. Caren is the president of Time & Cents Consultants and a member of the 7 Second System. She specializes in providing consulting and training to professional services firms. In addition to working with QuickBooks for almost 20 years, Caren is a Certified Consultant on Timeslips by Sage, Peachtree by Sage and Amicus Attorney as well as a Certified Independent Consultant for Time Matters, Billing Matters and PCLaw from LexisNexis. Caren can be reached through her website at www.timeandcents.com.