Barden Insights:5 Ways to Avoid a Bad Finance Hire
Bad hires cost businesses money – we all know that. There’s the financial cost in terms of salary outlay, recruitment fees and induction, but then there’s also the unquantifiable – but not insignificant – cultural cost. Reduced team morale, lowered energy and and a feeling of dissatisfaction with management associated with bad hires also costs money, so it’s understandable that getting hires right is a top priority for businesses everywhere.
But what extent is it down to luck, and more importantly, what can you do to prevent it in the future?
Before you even think about advertising, define exactly what you want your new hire to do
I’ve worked with many time-poor hiring managers, who when under pressure, need new hands on deck, and they need them yesterday. Unfortunately, this is one of the commonest ways to hire badly, with quick decisions being made on limited information. Like the old saying, more haste less speed, taking the time to map out a position comprehensively will help you get it right, first time. If it’s a replacement hire, taking the time to understand exactly what the outgoing employee is doing now is vital, as they are more than likely doing a lot more than their HR job description, written four years ago, states. Likewise, your requirements may have changed, so defining what this position should look like in the short to medium term is essential in getting good results.
Write a proper job description
Once you’ve defined the role, it’s imperative you can create a document that captures the mandate, tasks and priorities of the role, as well as essential and desirable competencies and skills. You’ve got to involve a lot of other people in the process of hiring, whether that be HR, recruiters, other finance stakeholders or even your CEO, so it’s important that they have a framework to work within to do a good job. Not only this, but applicants and interviewees will want to see a written job description, even prior to applying to self-assess their own capabilities, and their interest in the role. A role without a job description looks like a role without thought, which will deter top talent.
Make sure you give % slits of time (90% financial accounting and 10% management accounting is a very very different role to 10% financial accounting and 90% management accounting) and weight the description appropriately, make sure you give context in terms of the team, reporting lines and systems and be sure to give a description of the organisational structure (Group v’s Strategic Business Unit v’s SSC etc..) and where the entity/team sits in the supply chain (manufacturing, logistics, sales etc…) . Context of this calibre will better allow people to self select themselves into the process and help you and your HR team better identify appropriate people for interview.
Interview for performance and ability, not likeability
When interviewing, its easy to elicit very well prepared, but not very insightful, answers from candidates. It’s also easy to take a chronological run through their CV, and ask them general questions about career goals and their interests in an effort to “get to know” people. However, as we have all experienced, at interview, people can appear very different to how they are in reality, as they will give you answers they think you will want to hear.
Forget about “getting to know” someone in an hour and a half, and assess them for their capability to do the job, using the position framework you have created. Focus on their performance in each of the essential and desirable competency sections you have required, and ask them to provide tangible examples of where they have succeeded in these areas. What you’ll find by taking this road is that people who can say they’ve done it, but can’t articulate relevant examples or any achievements, have no track record of performance in what you need them to do, rendering them null and void.
Get the 80/20 rule right
Hiring a talented employee doesn’t mean that they must be able to do every single thing on the job description. It’s obvious that they must be able to perform the core competencies (80%), but actually hiring someone who has a little room to grow (20%) means their motivation to learn and achieve will be naturally higher than someone who has done-it-all. This “stretch” potential is valuable, but also so is getting the 20% right. If their 20% is going to cost you, as it constitutes a core job priority, this will be a non-runner, whereas if their 20% sits on the periphery of the list of requirements, it’s a winner.
Trust your gut, always
Lastly, let your intuition make the final call. If someone is good on paper, interviewed exceptionally, but you just have “that feeling” – you’re probably right. Things like lots of rescheduled interviews, delayed responses to interview requests, or uncommitted answers to interest in the role, all indicate someone who just might not that keen on the job, and this will show down the track. Always check references thoroughly, and never be afraid to ask for another interview or referee if you need more. And remember, an extra hour of your time now, versus months of under-productivity will always be worth the investment.
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