A resume is often the first — and sometimes only — opportunity to make a good impression on a potential employer.
But what if the resume doesn’t tell the whole story? How can employers better understand a candidate’s potential beyond what’s on paper?
We looked toward some top coaching and career pros for their tips on how employers can dig deeper when evaluating candidates for finance and accounting roles — and why it’s important that they do. Here are their insights:
Talk to references who can speak to the candidate’s technical skills.
When it comes to financing and accounting roles, it’s important to have references who can speak to the candidate’s technical skills, says Julia Pollak, a labor economist at ZipRecruiter. “You want to look for people who have supervised the candidate in their prior roles and can attest to their bookkeeping, analysis, and other hard skills,” she says. “These references will be able to tell you whether the candidate has the chops to do the job you’re hiring for.”
Ask behavioral interview questions that assess a range of skills.
In addition to difficult questions about technical abilities, employers should also ask behavioral interview questions that assess a range of skills, including problem-solving, collaboration, and adaptability, says Dora Vellianitis, CEO and founder of career coaching firm iRelaunch.
“For example, you might say, ‘Describe a time when you had to rapidly learn a new software program in order to meet an urgent deadline at work. What was the situation? What did you do? What was the result?’” she says. “The key is not just assessing whether they have done it before, but whether they have done it under pressure and excelled. Also important is understanding how they go about learning new things — some people are independent learners while others prefer more structure and guidance. Either way is fine, but you want to make sure their learning style meshes with your company culture.”
Consider candidates with nontraditional experience or backgrounds.
With unemployment at record lows, employers need to be open to considering candidates with nontraditional experience or backgrounds, says Lisa Rowan, HR analyst at The Muse.
“Think beyond those who have worked their way up through the ranks of traditional accounting firms or corporations,” she says. “In this job market, you may find excellent candidates who are self-taught or who come from outside of finance altogether but have developed relevant skills in other industries or through side hustles or volunteer work.”
Use pre-employment testing tools during the screening process.
Pre-employment testing tools can give employers valuable insights into candidates’ cognitive abilities and personality traits that may not be readily apparent from resumes or interviews alone, says William Flamme, marketing manager at OnlineTestingPlatform.com.
For finance roles specifically, he recommends aptitude tests that assess mathematical reasoning abilities, verbal reasoning, and comprehension skills since successful finance professionals need to analyze data and communicate their findings clearly and concisely.
While resumes provide employers with a first glimpse into a job candidate’s potential, they don’t always tell the whole story. To get a better sense of a candidate beyond what’s on paper, talk to references who can speak to the candidate’s technical skills, ask behavioral interview questions that assess a range of skills, consider candidates with nontraditional experience or backgrounds, and use pre-employment testing tools during the screening process. By taking these steps, you can get a more well-rounded picture of each job candidate — and increase your chances of making a great hire.
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