Whether you’re seeking to expand your team as a solo bookkeeper or large practice, most bookkeepers typically search for candidates who have the greatest amount of experience.
However controversially, this method is not the only approach, and isn’t even always the most sensible approach. When on the hunt for bookkeeping staff, a candidate who has experience is really just a bonus because there are a number of particular strengths that these candidates must have to perform their role most effectively.
Read ahead as we share the top five strengths that your bookkeeping staff must have. And guess what? They have nothing to do with bookkeeping!
Bookkeeping Staff – Perfect Employee Traits
Having experience in bookkeeping is one thing, but at the end of the day a staff member needs to be someone who has common sense, reasoning, critical thinking and is willing to be a team player. At The Savvy Bookkeeper, when hiring staff, we stand by five principles which we believe are the must have strengths that a bookkeeper, or any employee should possess:
1. Verbal Reasoning
Being competent in understanding, evaluating and interpreting workplace relevant written and spoken communication is key to verbal reasoning. This trait is extremely important in an employee, especially a bookkeeping employee. Without it, basic, everyday tasks are likely to be difficult, whether they relate to bookkeeping or not. Specific to bookkeeping, staff need to be able to understand instructions and act accordingly. If they can’t do that, there could be some huge errors popping up in their work. And we can’t afford too much of that happening!
To test a candidate’s ability for verbal reasoning, a verbal reasoning test can be conducted in the earlier stages of screening. Suitable for high volume testing, the test can predict job performance through general mental ability.
Once completed by all candidates, you will be given a set of results that provide an indication as to those who are likely to excel in the particular role. This is especially useful when it comes to tasks that involve verbal and written information.
2. Critical thinking
As bookkeepers, financial analysis and data interpretation is an everyday task and essential skill. Without a high capability for critical thinking, staff might lack the ability to come to conclusions on their own. This means they will take up more of your time than someone with a high level of critical thinking.
When testing for critical thinking abilities, a range of tests can be conducted that analyse a candidate’s ability to conceptualise, apply and evaluate complex written information. In particular, to then use that information to reach meaningful outcomes or conclusions.
This type of assessment is more suited to a smaller pool of candidates and is most commonly conducted half way through the screening process. It is also better suited when recruiting for managerial roles that require higher levels of cognitive thinking and problem solving.
3. Numerical Reasoning
Mathematics isn’t everyone’s forte. For a bookkeeper though, I think we can all agree that understanding mathematical principles and numerical problems is an essential skill. In fact, most professions and vocations require at least a basic level of understanding of mathematics and numeracy to complete everyday tasks.
When implementing a numerical reasoning test, you can separate potential candidates based on their ability to understand general mathematical principles such as solving numerical problems. You can also implement workplace relevant case studies that assess the candidates ability to solve problems with quantitative data.
Similar to that of the verbal reasoning test, numerical reasoning is best tested towards the beginning of the screening process and when there are a high level of candidates. You don’t want to get to the interview stage and realise someone is great in all areas except being able to do simple math!
4. Remote Working Abilities
Increasingly important in today’s digital age, and particularly relevant since Covid, is a candidate’s ability to work remotely. This particular working ability can be tested for in a matter of minutes and is crucial for businesses who are seeking staff who will have the option or be required to work from home. It is also a good thing to check if you are looking to engage with agency workers or freelancers.
It might seem that with a computer and internet connection anyone can work from home. However, highly extroverted individuals may struggle with minimal face-to face interaction, while others may perform poorly without direct managerial support.
Remote work can be a popular option for many as it provides flexibility and greatly improves work-life balance. This style of working is particularly important to test for as it provides an employer with the information they need to understand whether a candidate is able to work as productively as they would in an office environment.
5. Learning Agility
Last but certainly not least, having a strong learning agility is a strength that every employer should seek in a candidate. This skill is particularly handy for small businesses or those who are seeking further improvement, experience based knowledge and growth.
Learning Agility is defined as an individual’s propensity to learn and seek knowledge and is particularly important in roles that require cognitively complex work. It is also crucial for those who are new to the workforce or have a lack of prior experience such as graduates or apprentices.
If someone does not have a strong level of learning agility, hiring them can be a strain on your business resources. This is because they will likely require more hand holding and make more mistakes than someone who learns more quickly.
Candidate strengths and key motivators for any industry
When searching for the ideal employee, many employers seek those who have prior experience or knowledge of a particular role. It is important, however, to also consider other strengths that a candidate may possess.
The five strengths outlined above are MUST-HAVES when it comes to hiring a bookkeeper, as they enable an employee to perform their role effectively and most productively. These strengths can also be applied in almost all contexts and provide a benchmark for any suitable candidate no matter what the industry or role.
Do you test for these strengths when hiring a new bookkeeping employee? What is most important to you – is it a candidate’s experience, motivation, adaptability or knowledge?