The 3 steps you need to master when hiring world-class talent

If you don’t have a solid recruitment strategy in place, you will consistently struggle to scale your accounting firm.

Hiring new staff is a lengthy and time consuming process. Ideally, it’s relatively short-term pain for a rewarding long-term gain.

But you won’t reap those rewards if your recruitment strategy is reactive, not thought-out and focused on simply filling empty seats.

Ed Chan from Wize Mentoring and Chan & Naylor explains that it’s more effective to work with fewer well-suited team members instead of more ill-suited ones:

It’s better to have a seat empty than a seat filled with an incompetent person.
Ed Chan, Wize Mentoring

And the costs of hiring the wrong person extend far beyond inconvenience. You need to consider:

  • Hiring costs

  • Compensation

  • Maintaining the wrong person in the job 

  • Severance

  • Mistakes and failures

  • Missed opportunities

  • Disruption

  • Inefficiency

So, to avoid mis-hiring and, instead, hiring a world-class accounting team, you need to lay solid foundations.

Here are the 3 pillars that will support your entire recruitment process.

1. Plan your hire

Firstly, you need to understand why you’re hiring and the problem/s you’re trying to solve.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you even need to hire?

  • Do you have too many staff or not enough staff?

  • What resource is actually required?

An important part of this initial step is gaining a high-level overview of your team’s capacity. 

The importance of capacity planning shouldn't be overlooked here—it will either:

  • Identify exactly where your gaps are, helping you understand who you need to hire


This stage is data-driven and analytical—you need to deeply understand your team’s capacity, as well as your financial metrics, to inform your hiring decisions.

Jamie Johns, CEO and Co-Founder of Sky Accountants highlights the importance of planning your hiring process:

Be very strategic with your hire—don’t just hire to throw bodies at your problem. The worst thing you can do is hire someone and then expect them to do everything and solve all your problems.
Jamie Johns, Sky Accountants

And part of that planning involves achieving a well-balanced team.

Find the right skill balance to successfully manage your firm’s traffic flow

You need three main role pillars to build the right foundation that will enable you to scale your firm while keeping clients and employees happy.

Each pillar plays a crucial part in your organization’s development and should make up the backbone of your master plan. 

To fill each of these three pillars, you must recruit the right people who are suited to each role.


Finders are generally your senior client managers and assistant client managers. They are great communicators and have excellent interpersonal skills. They can break down complex tax issues into terms any client can understand.


Minders suit the role of your firm’s senior production managers. They oversee technical staff, but can also play a communication role. They ensure everything is functioning smoothly and efficiently across the firm.


Grinders are the production staff. They work well on their own, are good at taking instruction, and like to keep busy.

Finding the right balance of Finders, Minders and Grinders is key. When you achieve it, you create a powerful synergy that drives your firm toward success via a smooth traffic and communication flow.

Jamie explains the role between your firm's team structure and communication traffic:

So, have clarity around the position you’re trying to fill—understand the skills required, both technical and interpersonal, and the expectations you have of the person who will fill the role.

2. Find the best candidates

Once you have your hiring process planned, you can begin searching for the ideal candidate to enhance your accounting team.

The best ways to find the ideal candidates for your accounting team:

Get the job description right

Make sure you clearly set expectations in the job description. Leave as little as you can to guesswork. This way, you’re already beginning to shorten the inevitably lengthy process of finding the right handful of candidates to interview.

You can use GradMentor’s Accounting Firm Job Description template in the Karbon Template Marketplace to write a job ad to attract your ideal candidate.

Recognize that hiring someone is a marketing exercise

Job descriptions act as an advertisement for your firm. So personalize it to suit your brand and culture—entice and intrigue people to apply for the role.

Cast a wide net and use the right tools to filter the applicants

Find the right talent by searching far and wide, and use the right technology to select the handful of people best-suited for an interview. You can use apps like TopGrading and Greenhouse to manage this process.

Review candidates with a thorough and templated interview process

Having a consistent set of questions and processes creates a baseline you can use when comparing candidates. It allows you to compare apples with apples.

Build your interview template with a list of the top interview questions to help you identify the best candidate, or if you use Karbon, you can download the 30 Job Interview Questions for your Accounting Firm template.

3. Test personality, knowledge, experience, skills and speed

Putting candidates in real-life scenarios will help you to assess their suitability beyond their interview performance.

This is the time to pressure test their resume.
Jamie Johns, Sky Accounting

Use this as an opportunity to not only test their competence, speed and efficiency, but also their responsiveness. How willing are they to complete all the steps required during the entire interview process? If they’re not enthusiastic or motivated to prove themselves, then perhaps they’re not enthusiastic or motivated enough for the role.

This is also an ideal chance to test their personality-types against:

  1. The role they’re interviewing for. For example, are they truly well-suited to the Minder role they have applied for?

  2. Your culture. Does their personality fit into your team and firm, or can you foresee personality clashes?

  3. Communication styles. How well can they communicate with people from different social backgrounds? Can they shift gears between different clients or team members to communicate in the most effective way? Consider this both verbally and in-writing.

And when conducting reference checks, leave no stone unturned. Ask the hard-hitting questions, such as:

  • Why did they leave?

  • Would you rehire them?

  • What was their salary when they started?

  • What was their salary when they ended?

  • What would you rank them out of five?

By doing so, you’re removing emotion from the equation. With this information, it’s not a personal decision, instead, it’s based on facts.

Do your due diligence

The most successful recruitment process starts with preparation.

If you take the time to understand exactly why you’re hiring, the skills you need, the type of personality you want, and the expectations of the successful candidate’s output and attitude, you’re already refining the talent pool before you’ve even posted the job advertisement.

If you’re clear about what you want, and you translate that clearly into the advertisement, you shouldn’t have any surprises when it’s time to assess the applications and interview potential candidates.

At the same time, make sure your process is thorough and leave out the guesswork.

And remember, it’s not personal—make your hiring decisions based on the facts in front of you, and again, you should avoid any surprises on your way to hiring a world-class accounting team.

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