Hiring 3 min

What to Look For When Hiring For Your Finance Department

July 22, 2020

Now more than ever, business leaders need to be able to trust the people handling their money. With recent fluctuations in the economy, companies can’t afford to be wishy-washy about their accounts, and they certainly can’t afford to hire anyone who will be either.

Leaders often neglect to put as much attention into finance department hires as they do into front-line operational hires like sales or engineering. Your finance department can sometimes end up being the one thing that stands between your business and insolvency, and so you should treat every moment of the hiring process with that level of gravity.

Even so, it’s not easy to know what qualities in a new hire will make for the best addition to your finance team. Every business has different needs, but here are a few that consistently rise to the top of recruiters’ wishlists:

Six Qualities to Look For in Your Finance Department

1. Purchasing expertise

As COVID-19 continues to cause unprecedented shortages and disruptions in the supply chain, you need a finance team that can implement a sturdy, sustainable purchasing strategy. Investing in supply chain resilience can increase customer satisfaction by as much as 30% according to research from Bain & Company, so you need to be hiring personnel that know how to build a 21st-century purchasing policy.

Plenty of applicants for financial positions have experience in logistics, and those that don’t often underwent some kind of supply management training while in school — while these are good indicators that a potential hire has the skillset you’re looking for, they don’t tell the complete story. You’ll want to include an opportunity during interviews to discuss what kind of purchasing strategy your candidates might consider bringing to your business. Those with a procurement-centered mindset will be able to answer with ease, making it easy to sort them from the rest.

2. Analytical abilities

It may seem as though it could go unsaid: of course your financial hires need to have strong analytical abilities under their belt, but do you know how precisely to test for these? Moreover, once your new hire has crunched the numbers, do you trust that they’ll be able to extrapolate the right conclusions from what they’ve found?

Before you even start reviewing résumés, have a detailed understanding of what skills you need your key candidate to have. Analysis from ZipRecruiter puts skills such as financial modeling and budget management in some of the top-demand categories, but your company might need even deeper specialties than these. Talk with your existing finance team to see which skills your company could most benefit from in times like these.

3. An understanding of your sector

No matter how adept some financial experts are, they’ll never be able to fully acclimate to the norms of your sector if they’re not well-versed in the kind of business you do. If you’re in tech, you need a financial team that understands tech — the same is true regardless of what your company is engaged in.

Niche financial service experts may be slightly more expensive to come by and could require a little bit more recruiting on your part, but the long-run payoff can be immense — the cost of teaching someone the ins and outs of your sector will far outweigh any additional expenses it might take to secure another, more specialized employee. In today’s market, you need a worker who can hit the ground running, so hire someone with the skills that will allow them to

4. Interpersonal skills

It’s your finance department: hardly the first thing most hiring managers will be looking for is a strong set of soft skills. Even though it may seem as though a strong quantitative skillset is all an applicant needs in order to stand out, simply focusing on how a potential employee handles the numbers ignores the fact that they’ll be working as part of a larger team at a larger company — an environment that requires high levels of healthy communication.

Interpersonal skills can easily turn a good applicant into a great one, and a lack of them can make a candidate who’s good on paper fail to live up to expectations. Even the most adept financial experts need to be able to effectively communicate and defend what they’ve found in the numbers, so hiring someone who knows how to deal with people as well as they deal with figures is an absolute must.

5. Crisis management credentials

When crisis strikes at your business, the first people you turn to are likely going to be project managers, public relations officers, and marketing experts. Many leaders ignore the crisis management potential that financial teams have and suffer for it as a result. No matter where a crisis begins, it will have an impact on your bottom line — so you need to hire financial experts who can handle it effectively.

Especially in today’s business landscape, your finance team should have a deep understanding of how to protect against potential economic downturns. Managing a financial crisis is no small task, so be sure to scan the résumés of any prospective workers for evidence that they’ll be able to help your company weather the storm.

6. Tech fluency

The lines between tech and finance become increasingly blurred with every passing day, and you need to be hiring people onto your team who can embrace that change. Finance officers don’t need advanced degrees in computer science in order to be tech-savvy — they just need to be prepared to work with whatever tech trends come next.

While you’ll want to hire people who can work effectively with your business’s existing financial tech, also have an eye out for applicants that are ready to bring your company up to speed with new developments in the field. In the age of fintech, each of your hires needs to be as much of an innovator as they are an employee — look for that attitude during all stages of the hiring process.

Conclusion

Building a strong finance department is easier said than done, but knowing what qualities make a great hire can smooth out the process significantly.

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