Key traits to look for when hiring a senior accountant
July 6, 2022

8 Key Traits to Look for When Hiring a Senior Accountant

So, you need a senior accountant to oversee your accounting department, and you need them now. Without one, your organization’s day-to-day accounting and bookkeeping operations will quickly become convoluted. 

Unfortunately, many employers face the problem when it’s time to fill the position because they simply don’t know how to.

Hiring a high-level employee like a senior accountant is a bit of a challenge when you don’t know what to look for. Luckily, accounting recruitment in Toronto can take the guesswork out of hiring senior accountants for employers so they can focus on other issues. 

Keep on reading to see the eight vital traits that senior accountants need and the eight questions that AHK Accounting Recruiters use to see which candidates have them.

1. Morality 

Annual surveys from Insights West show that accountants are consistently viewed as respectable and trustworthy professionals. 

Accountants secured a top 10 spot on the list of more than 25 professions, with 81% of respondents saying they have positive feelings towards accountants!

Keeping accounting professionals high on the list of respected Canadian professions is all about maintaining trust. Clients must know that the person handling their money has a strong sense of right and wrong. 

Thus, you’ll want to hire an accounting professional who handles bookkeeping ethically and with integrity. 

Question: How do your personal ethics and morals dictate your approach to accounting?

2. Accuracy

Numbers, data entry, and mathematics all have at least one thing in common: a need for accuracy. Accidentally misplacing a comma or adding an extra digit simply doesn’t cut it here. 

There can be big blowback on the company from clients and investors if your accountants make errors. Indeed, in the accounting world, mistakes can be quite costly.

Do you know the construction rule, measure twice and cut once? Accounting entries are a little more like checking twice and entering once. Double-checking work should be ingrained in the mind of all accountants you hire. 

Question: What strategies do you use to ensure accuracy while working under pressure?

3. Organizational skills

Accounts deal with a lot of information on a daily basis. That information is usually split between numerous spreadsheets, paperwork, and emails, so keeping it organized can be challenging. 

Having an efficient system for finding and filing ensures productivity by reducing the time that accountants spend searching for files and paperwork.

An organized accountant will also have much more time to analyze and research without interruption. 

Clients and shareholders appreciate organizational skills in accounting professionals because accountants are tasked with “organizing” their personal finances. 

Question: Give me an example of a tool or method you use to keep relevant files organized and on-hand.

4. Teamwork 

Ask an accounting recruitment specialist in Toronto, and they’ll let you know that accounting is a team effort. Accountants must be able to work with a diverse team to achieve a common goal. 

In an average week, an accountant can expect to work with controllers, bookkeepers, and other CPAs.

They can also expect some face-time with clients, so customer service and personability are essential. When you hire an accountant who promotes efficient collaboration, expect to see:

  • Work completed faster
  • Improved planning and accuracy 
  • Better profit margins 
  • Increased morale

Question: How have your colleagues helped you become a better accountant in past roles? How have you helped them do the same? 

5. Industry knowledge

An accountant will have to serve clients from across various industries and professions. There will be fundamental tasks that are consistent across clients, but knowing specific requirements may require additional research. 

This is why accountants must be familiar with the common client niches in their sector. 

For accounting recruitment in Toronto, it can also be a good idea to identify the accounting principles that your potential hire is familiar with. 

For example, Canadian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) differ from American GAAP. 

They could also be familiar with Accounting Standards for Private Enterprises (ASPE) or International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), so it doesn’t hurt to check. 

Knowledge of reporting practices is essential to ensure that your company’s accuracy and integrity guidelines are met.

Question: What is one of the biggest challenges accountants face daily, and how can they be surpassed?

6. Creativity

There’s not too much about accounting that would be described as artistic, but having a creative mind makes for a better accountant. Companies and clients value accountants who develop fresh practices or innovative solutions. 

Not every issue that an accountant faces has an easy cut-and-dry solution. With frequent changes to tax codes, laws, and regulations, a creative mind helps accountants stay ahead of the curve. 

Question: Was there ever a time when you had to think outside the box to devise an effective solution to a problem?

7. Accounting software proficiency

Microsoft Excel is an excellent tool for basic personal accounting, but it’s not always the choice for complex corporate accounting. 

Excel will likely still be used, but accountants that can confidently use other spreadsheets and account reconciliation software are highly sought after.

Senior accountants should also be proficient with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. Senior accountants are often tasked with procurement, risk management, supply chain operations, and project management. 

ERP software integrates these tasks seamlessly in real-time to make handling business operations a breeze. 

Question: What accounting software and applications are you most comfortable working with?

8. A hunger for more knowledge

We’ve already looked at how the constantly evolving industry creates a demand for creative, problem-solving accountants. 

What many accountants don’t realize, though, is that the changing landscape means they’ll have to constantly upgrade their skills to keep up. There’s no telling what accounting changes are coming (or when), so staying up to date is important.

Technology is an excellent example of this. Tech plays a more prominent role in accounting today than it did 20, 15, or even ten years ago. Would you hire an accountant who was still using paper spreadsheets or ledgers? 

There are so many online courses that accountants could take to show their dedication to continued learning. Working towards an MBA or Master’s in Accounting could be a worthwhile goal for senior accountants.  

Question: What’s a skill that you don’t currently possess but you’ll need for the next stage in your accounting career? How do you plan on obtaining this skill?

Let Us Do the Hiring

The AHK team is one of the top choices for accounting recruitment in Toronto. We work hard to provide you with permanent staffing solutions, so call us at 833-399-1663 or click here to email us.

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