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The Case To Hire For Accounting Skills Not Attitude

Pick-up nearly any business book and the recommendation is likely to be the same: when building a team, "hire for attitudes and train for skills". This seems to be the catchphrase in recent years for recruitment.

And while I agree that attitude/personality is extremely important, I'm also a realist and in today’s very busy & technologically advanced world, how many companies out there are going to teach their new recruit how to be a technically astute Accountant or Finance Leader?

The truth is, they aren't. They don't have the time and often don't have the resources to train the technical skills they're missing, hence why they're recruiting.  And whilst it would be nice to have your pick of candidates who possess the technical skills and attitude to succeed in a role, the reality is, they are very hard to find as there is a massive increase in demand for technical accounting expertise from a large number of businesses.

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Employers with difficult to fill positions are now shifting to skills-based recruitment rather than the attitude-based model of the past. 

And the truth is, skills do matter.  You'll agree with me if you've ever hired someone who simply cannot do their job.

The problem lies in assessing skills. What candidate's write on their CV doesn’t prove that they can apply those skills effectively, so here's how you can measure skill-sets in a more objective manner:

  • When reviewing candidate CV's keep an eye out for keywords, but dig a bit deeper.
  • Add skills-based questions to your culture-fit interview questions and find out how candidates use their skills. What did they actually accomplish using those skills? 
  • Use skills tests in conjunction with face to face interviewing and reference checking to get a well-rounded picture of who candidates are at their core and how their traits and skills compare to the job description and future needs of the organisation.


Assessing skills can take a wide variety of forms. You may ask candidates for a writing sample, a project, or a presentation. For technical jobs with a quantifiable skill-set, you may ask your candidates to complete a skills assessment, or standardized test to objectively gauge their competency.

If you can’t already tell, we value objective analysis at Accountests!

Intrigued? Reach out for more information.

Have you ever made recruitment decisions you lived to regret?  Are you given recruitment responsibilities on top of your day job and struggle to find time to do it all?  Get our compact Accountant & Bookkeeper Recruitment Guide for free.   


An easy reference document covering the whole process from scoping the Job Description for upcoming vacancies, right through to making better job offers than your competitors and sealing the deal, and every step in between.  Written by Accounting firm Partners, HR/People Management professionals within the accounting and bookkeeping sector and drawing on established and emerging best practice in selection techniques in Australasia, the UK and US, you can have access to a wealth of practical recruitment and selection knowledge and links to external expertise and reusable templates whenever you need it.


 About the Authors

Giles Pearson FCA was a PwC Partner for 18 years before jointly setting up Accountests.  

Steve Evans has a whole career dedicated to enabling employers to attract, recruit, develop and retain talented individuals and teams, with particular expertise in candidate testing and assessment before setting up Accountests.

Accountests deliver the world’s only online suite of annually updated and country-specific technical knowledge tests designed by accountants for accountants and bookkeepers.

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