Top Red Flags to Watch for When Hiring Contract Accountants

You’ve decided to add a contract resource to your accounting team.  You need someone who can ramp up quickly and bring their specialized skill set to the table.  Pressed for time, you quickly put a job description together and get ready for the resumes to arrive.  At the interview process, you see a candidate that has promise.  An offer is made. The contract accountant joins your team and everything turns up roses.  Realistic?  Maybe.  Usually, however, tight timelines lead to hasty decisions.  To help you land the right contract accountant, here are some red flags to look for during the resume and interview stages of the hiring process.

Flag #1:  Consistently Short Contracts
A candidate with consistently short contracts (2 to 3 months) on their resume is a red flag.  Candidates who perform will usually have their contracts extended.

Flag #2:  Short Permanent Roles
If the candidate’s resume has a list of short, permanent roles on it ask yourself why.  Why has this candidate jumped from one role to another without signs of progression?  It’s a red flag.

Infographic: Here’s an interesting infographic on the costs of a bad hire.

Flag #3:  Large Resume Gaps
While periods of economic stagnation may explain the occasional resume gap due to downsizing, consistent gaps are suspicious.

Flag #4:  First Contract Opportunity
During the interview determine whether or not this is the candidate’s first contract opportunity.  If it is, it may be a red flag.  Ask questions to determine why a contract role makes sense at this juncture of their career.  Why are they transitioning from a permanent role?  What are their expectations of a contract position?  The answers will help you decide whether or not to move forward with the candidate.

Resource:  Read “Top 3 Interview Questions for a Contract Accountant” to give you a leg up during the interview process.

Flag #5:  A Downward Trajectory
To expand on flag 4, if the contract role represents a significant step down from their current position, or past employment, it could be cause for concern.  Were they unable to deliver at a more senior level, or are they strategically seeking experience in a different industry because they are looking to transition?

Flag #6:  Size of Industry
There can be significant differences between delivering for a small organization or a larger one.  Look for someone that has experience working for a company that is similar in size and scope.  He or she will be able to ramp up quickly.

Resource:  For more red flags read “Avoid Bad Finance Contractors.”

Key Takeaways
Bad hires not only impact the bottom line, but team morale as well.  When you hire an accounting contractor make sure that their resume doesn’t contain any red flags such as very short contracts, a tendency to jump from one company to another, or large gaps.  During the interview process, make sure to dig down into the candidate’s motivation for taking the role, particularly if this is their first contract role and they’re transitioning from a permanent position.  Make sure that their industry experience matches your role’s needs.  By taking note of red flags during the resume and interview stages of the hiring process, you stand a much greater chance of adding a contract resource that can add value, rather than one that could represent a costly hiring mistake.

Your Next Step
No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

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