Posted on: January 17, 2013 Uncategorized

Thinking about adding some new team members to your CPA practice this year?

Before you cast your line out there in search of a new employee, take the time to learn a few things about hiring the RIGHT person for the job.

Bad candidates are everywhere. But your firm doesn’t have to pay the price. There are a few simple things you can do that will give your practice an edge. Let your competitors struggle to find the right people!

Tip #1: Look for Compatibility, Not Just Skills

Most CPA firms who do their own hiring start by collecting resumes. They sift through the applications, then make a short list of candidates. More often than not, that short list is created with an eye towards each candidate’s skills.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But did you know that more new hires fail due to personality and culture clashes than to an inability to perform a role?

What that means is, you need to keep an eye out for compatibility as well as skills.

For example, an employee who likes a slower pace will not fare well in a business that is fast paced.

Tip #2: Arm Yourself with Knowledge BEFORE the Interview

Before you call in a candidate for an interview, you need to arm yourself with some specific knowledge – both about the candidate and the job.

Be clear in your own mind which qualities you’re looking for in a candidate. If you could imagine your “dream employee” in this role, what personality traits would they possess? It will help you know the right person when you meet them.

Also, be sure to review the candidate’s resume prior to the interview. This will give you insight into the best questions to ask, and will give you a chance to spot any red flags in the candidate’s work history.

Tip # 3: Schedule Plenty of Interview Time

When scheduling interviews, give yourself a generous amount of time in which to conduct the interview. In other words, don’t rush yourself. Make sure you have time to reflect and catch your breath afterwards. I usually like to keep at least a 15-minute interval between interviews.

Tip # 4: Don’t Go It Alone

If possible, don’t be the only person who interviews the candidate. Ask one or two trusted employees to also interview the candidate. If you have no other employees, ask a friend or family member to accompany you during the interview process. Why? We are all unique individuals with unique experiences, histories, and personalities. What your spouse, assistant or receptionist notices about a candidate might be very different from what you notice.

Tip # 5: Shut Up and Listen

Don’t make the mistake of doing all the talking during the interview. Ideally, allow a candidate to speak for the majority of the allotted interview period. Try to follow the 80/20 paradigm – encourage the candidate to speak for 80% of the time at the beginning of the interview, and then you can speak for 20% of the time after you’ve completed your initial round of interview questions.

By keeping these five tips in mind before you hire someone new, you’ll increase your chances of making a decision that actually grows your CPA practice instead of handicapping it.

Learn even more about growing and strengthening your practice! Check out my book The Ultimate CPA Practice in the New Economy: 10 Secrets to Attract More Clients, Boost Profits and Live Your Ideal Lifestyle.

Best wishes,


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