To get the right people in the right seats at your accounting firm, it helps to take some time in the hiring process. Even during times of rapid growth, fast hiring, in which a handshake and offer are extended at the end of the first interview, can lead to a host of problems. Hiring slow allows for greater diligence in picking through your candidate list and ensuring you choose the right one.
Benefits of Hiring Slow
When your firm is growing and taking on new clients, or at tax time when you need to fill seats to handle the business coming in, it can be tempting to hire fast, forgoing a long vetting process in favor of addressing staffing needs. But as a long-term solution, hiring slow offers your accounting firm substantial benefits.
Taking the time to make the right hire pays off in the area of retention. When a new accountant is right for the job, fits into your firm’s culture, and can begin making contributions quickly, he is more likely to stay on a long-term basis. A bad hire, on the other hand, might not make it to the 90-day mark, forcing you to begin the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring process anew.
You can also preserve your company’s culture by hiring slow. It only takes one off-putting employee, one worker who fails to buy into the company’s mission, who is a constant contrarian and loves to stir the pot, to upset the culture that you and your leadership team have worked hard to build. Before rushing to make a hire, ask yourself if filling a seat two weeks faster is worth the risk of spoiling a positive work environment.
Techniques for Hiring Slow
Hiring slow only pays off if you do it the right way. If you simply drag the hiring process out with no extra due diligence or vetting, you do not gain any benefits over making an immediate hire. The purpose of hiring slow is to give yourself time to evaluate each candidate more thoroughly, increasing your chances of selecting the best fit.
You can start by looking beyond candidates’ resumes, which, honestly, all tend to look the same. Consider requesting that candidates submit a personal statement along with their resume. This sort of thing helps you envision the candidate as part of your team rather than simply checking off the required education and experience.
Spreading the hiring process over multiple interviews enables you to get to know candidates better, learning about not only their work background but also the more unique aspects of their personality. If your firm has the time and resources, and your top candidates are amenable to the idea, a trial workday lets you see candidates in action and gauge how they work with your current team members.
Occasionally, even the most careful, painstaking hiring process fails to prevent a bad fit from slipping through. For this reason, firing fast is a necessary corollary to hiring slow. A firm that takes weeks or months to identify top candidates does not have time to take equally long to rid itself of an underperforming employee or one who is a bad fit. Instead, have a frank and respectful discussion with the employee, explain why it is not working out, and cut ties humanely, potentially even offering to help the person find a new position that’s a better fit.
Hiring slow is not without its drawbacks. It takes time and resources, and talented candidates might get other offers during the process. But the benefits in the areas of retention and workplace culture far outweigh any potential negatives.