Hiring the Perfect Professional. What should you be looking for?

In June 2016, Helen Brand, the CEO of ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) launched a report from an international study which identified seven attributes essential to success for accountants and finance professionals.

Since then, we have presented a guide to accountants across New Zealand on how to assess whether accounting & finance candidates are likely to possess the attributes associated with success in the profession as it stands, and in the rapidly changing professional services environment in the future.  We have also noticed that the desirable attributes for accountants & finance professionals equally apply to almost any professional & managerial role, so now seems a good time to share one professions findings, and our recommendations with the New Zealand professions in general:

In short, ACCA developed a set of seven ‘Professional Quotients’ – a mix of technical knowledge, skills and abilities formed with interpersonal behaviours and qualities to define what the 2016 accounting and finance professional must look like, which gives anyone looking to recruit new staff a strong set of selection criteria upon which to assess their candidates.

However, whilst knowing what you are looking for and why is a strong starting point, the ACCA study seemed to omit the all-important ‘how’. How can an employer of accountants, or any other professional group, assess whether a candidate has these vital ingredients associated with success to become a valued team member if appointed?

Here’s our view on how you could assess each of the seven attributes, along with a summary description:

  • 1. Technical and ethical competencies (TEQ): The skills and abilities to perform activities consistently to a defined standard.

Too often based on possession of a professional qualification when everyone knows that being qualified doesn’t equate to being competent. This is where we blow our own trumpet and recommend assessing technical accounting skills and knowledge with the only current, valid & country-specific accounting tests in the world – Accountests.com for an online accounting skills assessment for candidates within an hour. 

In a wider sense, technical skills tests exist for professions as varied as web developers to HR Advisors.  If you’re looking for Technical & Skills Tests for your professional recruitment, give us a call as we have over 2,500 technical & skills tests available. 

  • 2. Intelligence (IQ): The ability to acquire and use knowledge: thinking, reasoning and solving problems.

There are a host of valid, reliable psychometric ability tests out there which measure this attribute. Better still, they come in suits of three that cover abilities to acquire new knowledge and work with systems and processes outside of previous experience, as well as ability tests of numerical and verbal critical reasoning.

Regardless of where you are based, or where your candidates are, ability testing is readily accessible through online testing & virtual supervised tests to give you the easy access to online testing without the risks of wondering whether candidates are cheating  

  •  3. Creativity (CQ): The ability to use existing knowledge in a new situation, to make connections, explore potential outcomes, and generate new ideas.

Abstract reasoning psychometric ability tests cover this attribute well, but could be blended with assessment centre exercises requiring analysis of complex information to make recommendations, Situational Judgement tests as well as personality profile traits of creativity, change and strategic focus

  • 4. Digital (DQ): The awareness and application of existing and emerging digital technologies, capabilities, practices, strategies and culture.

Sound interview questions and reference checking by an interviewer who is technologically savvy ought to uncover where a candidate sits in terms of their use of current technologies at home and work as well as where they see technologies shaping the accounting and finance function in the future. Well-crafted and delivered questions should weed out those who see technologies as threats rather than opportunities

  •  5. Emotional intelligence (EQ): The ability to identify your own emotions and those of others, harness and apply them to tasks, and regulate and manage them.

Back to the better personality questionnaires that include traits associated with Emotional Intelligence, including warmth towards others, team focus, being trusting/supportive, focusing on subtle people-implications in problem solving and decision making. There are also questionnaires based entirely on EQ, but as a personal preference, I’d recommend broader ‘whole of personality’ assessments such as 16PF/15FQ+

Again, personality questionnaires are easily accessed online, although keep in mind that New Zealand’s unregulated psychometric market means that there is a lot of cheap garbage out there masquerading as valid and reliable personality profiling.  If in doubt, give us a call and we’ll point you at assessments that hit the mark.

  •  6. Vision (VQ): The ability to predict future trends accurately by extrapolating existing trends and facts, and filling the gaps by thinking innovatively.

In the absence of a crystal ball, high level verbal critical reasoning tests such as Psytech’s CRTB1 assess abilities to make logical assumptions based on current information. The better personality questionnaires listed above also assess softer visionary traits, including thinking strategically without being held back by traditional conventions, policies or mind-sets

  •  7. Experience (XQ): The ability and skills to understand customer expectations, meet desired outcomes and create value.

Last but not least, assessing experience is the easy bit, with relevant information gathered from CV’s, application forms, then validated by good interviewers interviewing both candidates and referees

So, now you have both the framework of attributes for success and the tools to measure them.

If you don’t have in-house expertise for selecting psychometric assessments of ability and personality, the assessment-centre exercises or technical skills tests, get in touch with us directly on 0508 736 753 or enquiry@peoplecentral.co.nz

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