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Thrown to the Sharks: The Perils of Unpreparedness in the Accounting Deep End

We recently heard a horror hire story that we felt we had to share. But this isn’t the usual “candidate’s performance didn’t match their CV” story. Instead, we hear how an accounting candidate, who was honest and upfront with their experience (or lack of) in their interview, was thrown straight in the deep end without a lifeline. An obviously stressful situation for the new employee, but at what cost to the business?


In this story, a new AP/AR hire at a residential remodelling company faced a monumental task. Despite being transparent about their lack of experience during the interview, the recent graduate quickly realized they were in over their head when they were tasked with learning systems with no experience, given tasks they weren’t qualified for, and put in charge of sensitive financial information – all with absolutely no guidance or support.


The frustration started on day one when the company purchased QuickBooks, a software the employee had never used before, and asked them to figure it out on their own. On top of this, attempts to bring order to the 6-bank-account chaos revealed a total lack of organization, with receipts scattered across multiple undated folders and expenses mixed haphazardly.


Day two saw the employee left alone in the office with only one other staff member, an architect, who wasn’t able to answer any of their questions. They learned that they were expected to handle federal, state, and company tax preparation, manage payroll, and even secure a loan for the company, none of which the employee had any experience with.


It became apparent that the CEO had assumed they were a qualified CPA, regardless of informing them during the interview that they were a college graduate with no prior experience. But this didn’t deter management who instead invited the new employee to manage another two small businesses on top of it all. Left to navigate these daunting tasks alone, the new employee struggled to keep their head above water, feeling overwhelmed and stressed by the unrealistic expectations placed upon them


The experience described not only takes a toll on the employee but also poses significant risks to the business itself. For the employee, the lack of support and overwhelming tasks lead to immense stress and a loss of confidence in their abilities and their decision to join the accounting industry.


On the business side, hiring someone ill-equipped for the job results in wasted resources, both in terms of time and money – even if no effort was put into training the new employee. The company's failure to provide adequate support for new hires demonstrates a systemic issue in onboarding and training processes. Moreover, entrusting critical financial tasks to an inexperienced individual jeopardizes the company's financial health and integrity. In essence, this scenario highlights the importance of proper recruitment practices, employee support systems.


Implementing robust hiring processes could have averted the challenges faced by both the employee and the business. Prior to hiring, conducting pre-employment skills testing would have been instrumental in assessing the candidate's proficiency in relevant tasks to the role. This would have provided clarity on the candidate's capabilities and highlighted any gaps in their skills early on. Furthermore, a comprehensive interview process that includes thorough discussions about job responsibilities and realistic expectations is crucial.


By ensuring alignment between the candidate's skills and the job requirements, the company could have avoided hiring someone ill-equipped for the role. Investing in proper training and onboarding programs would have also set the employee up for success, fostering a supportive environment conducive to learning and growth. Ultimately, these measures not only safeguard against hiring the wrong person but also promote employee well-being and enhance the company's overall efficiency and effectiveness.


Want to see if Accountests will work for your firm? Click on the button for a FREE trial test - use it on a candidate or get one of your staff to give it a go and see what they think.  
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Donna Roughan  |  With 22 years of expertise in accounting and business advisory, Donna has held pivotal roles, notably as a Director at PwC, and has executive experience in both finance and operations.

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