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Finance is one of the most necessary, competitive, and complex fields in business today. To find the best members for your finance team, you must weed out the pretenders. Learn to identify people who possess the perfect mix of the hard and soft skills your business needs.
If you aren’t a financial expert yourself, though, distinguishing between qualified candidates gets difficult quickly. How can you know whether one person’s experiences are better for your business than another person’s education? Instead of training in a new field just to make a hire, evaluate candidates based on how well they demonstrate the following critical traits.
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No business lasts long with an untrustworthy finance department. Unscrupulous business owners may buy themselves some time or make short-term gains through black hat practices. But in almost every instance, regulators crack down.
Not many people start out on the wrong side of the rule book, though. One little slide here, one small concession there, and before you know it, you’re breaking the law. Look for finance hires who understand the significance of integrity. Look for signs they recognize their responsibility to do the right thing no matter who’s watching.
Finance departments face challenges in shades of gray. To overcome those challenges, finance workers must demonstrate extraordinary critical thinking skills.
New tools and technologies can help finance workers parse through and understand tons of information at once. However, no tool can replace the brain of an analytical thinker. Talk to prospective hires about times they worked through difficult challenges and how they leveraged available information to come up with the right solution.
Great finance hires don’t just move numbers around on paper. They also help you come up with creative solutions to nagging problems.
Maybe instead of playing hardball with vendors, your company would benefit from joining a group purchasing organization. What would happen if you increased reliance on contractors instead of hiring a few more full-time roles?
Ask interview questions that encourage prospective finance hires to flex their creative muscles. This way, you’ll see if they have done their research on your company enough to impress you with their answers.
In an era of personal branding and entrepreneurship, employees who take initiative to solve problems on their own are invaluable. When you can trust your new finance hires to take it upon themselves to look for new solutions and operate with integrity, your business reaps the benefits.
Everyone wants a self-starter. Go one step further and look for people who demonstrate qualities of employee entrepreneurship.
Who sees themselves as agents of change for the company? Who wants to come up with better processes? In finance, where every action makes a mark on the bottom line, employees willing to challenge the status quo provide the best results.
No one enjoys learning about a problem after the fact. Instead of letting small problems evolve into big ones, great team members communicate proactively with their managers and colleagues to identify and correct mistakes early.
Get prospective hires talking about their processes to keep others in the loop. How much do they prioritize updating their work in project management tools? Do they follow a system for emails and instant messages? People who understand the importance of communication can help your company end big headaches before they begin.
Change rarely waits for permission. In finance, professionals must constantly grapple with new tools, technologies, regulations, and expectations. Finance workers who demonstrate flexibility in the face of adversity can protect your business from slowdown and unforced errors.
Interview questions about overcoming adversity provide a partial picture. But don’t stop at questions about an applicant’s history. Talk about the present realities of your business and ask prospective hires what they would do in your situation. The best candidates can recognize the implications of different choices and, even if they don’t know the specifics, should be able to extrapolate on incomplete information.
Finance professionals tend to be a competitive bunch, but businesses work best when everyone plays for the same team. Toxic employees may outproduce their peers, but they also kill morale and send other good employees looking for new jobs. Better to have a team of good producers who get along with one another than to poison the well with one superstar who brings everyone else down.
So don’t be fooled by off-the-charts numbers and impressive resumes. Teams do not function in a vacuum. Ask prospective hires about their views on collaboration and competition, and don’t hire anyone who views potential coworkers as the opposition.
A Final Word
Filling out your finance department may feel like a steep challenge, but don’t get bogged down in the details. Find someone with the experience you need and an attitude that fits your culture, then teach the rest along the way.