As we work toward recovery and businesses begin to re-open, many are looking for accounting and finance professionals to help them get back on track. When looking for the best candidates, technical skills matter. Have you ever hired a numbers whiz only to discover that their results weren’t as great as you had hoped? Without soft skills, even the most technically skilled professionals won’t perform to their potential. Here are five soft skills to look for in accounting and finance candidates.
Clear written and verbal communication is crucial, as accounting and finance employees must communicate well with both their direct team members and members of other departments. Pay attention to the way candidates write cover letters and emails and the way they speak in their interviews. Remember, listening is an important part of communication skills, so take note of a candidate’s active listening skills throughout the interview, as well.
Accountable people do what they say they will do and if things go off track, they communicate that status immediately. When things go wrong, accountable people don’t just accept blame, they look for ways to ensure the mistake is not repeated in the future. During interviews, ask accounting and finance candidates to talk about times they missed a deadline or made a crucial error. What did they do about it? How was it resolved?
Patience and Diplomacy
Accounting and finance professionals must be 100 percent accurate all of the time. They work on deadlines and must maintain compliance under strict regulations. Unfortunately, people outside of accounting and finance might not have the same sense of detail and urgency. So it is important to be patient with people who don’t understand why things must be turned in accurately and on time. It is equally important to be diplomatic when chasing down numbers and data. Being patient and diplomatic staves off conflict while ensuring accuracy and compliance. Ask candidates to describe times when a coworker or boss tested their patience or when they had trouble dealing with a coworker diplomatically. How did they handle it? What was the outcome?
Accounting and finance professionals get a lot of questions from both their direct coworkers and members of other departments. Whether those people need help, clarification, direction, or they are asking for the tenth time where to find expense reports on the server, being approachable is an important trait. If people feel like they can’t ask someone a question, they are less likely to speak up when they have a problem which could turn small issues into major problems.
Accounting and finance are stressful fields, and it takes someone with a positive outlook to keep pushing through when the pressure is on. Positive people have a good attitude and their positivity can spread to others who may be struggling with stress or aggravation. Look for people who seem to have a positive outlook during their interview and ask candidates how they maintain a good outlook when their job has them stressed.
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