How to find, vet and hire interim accounting & finance talent

From Fortune 500 organizations to small-to-mid-market firms, companies around the globe are facing an increased need to hire accounting and finance talent on an interim basis. There are plenty of scenarios that could create this need, whether it’s a reduction in staff, increased workload in a particular department or a time-crunch on technical accounting or regulatory matters. Whatever the project or scenario may be, it’s often tricky to find the right accounting and finance talent for a project—especially without sound insight and guidance.  

Below, we answer some common questions and provide key expertise for finding and hiring the best interim accounting and finance talent. 

First, where do I find them?

When it’s time to hire interim talent, don’t overlook the amazing resources within your own organization. 

Ask yourself this: Do you have outstanding but underutilized internal talent or impressive up-and-comers that you could assign to a project to help them learn and grow in their career?

You can challenge high performers by putting them on special projects like enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), and pre-initial public offerings. These are examples of challenges that will keep your top talent engaged while you bring in interim resources to perform the day-to-day accounting. If your current team is bogged down with other responsibilities, ask them for outside referrals. 

Once you’ve explored all your internal options, it’s time to turn to the outside world to find the amazing talent your project needs. 

Unsurprisingly, it’s always a plus to have an ongoing relationship with a recruiting firm that specializes in accounting and finance. However, if you haven’t established that partnership yet, you can move your search online or utilize your existing network to find firms that can provide interim solutions. Staffing and recruiting firms typically have ongoing relationships with vetted professionals, so they can hit the ground running on recruiting for your project.  

If you don’t find the right staffing agency online or through your network, contact your local Certified Public Accountants (CPA) firm. Ask about outsourcing the project to members of their team or hiring one of their CPAs to assist you. Keep in mind, however, that there may be significant cost differences between a CPA firm and a staffing and recruiting firm.  

Finally, you can conduct the search on your own. 

Utilize LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, and your local network to search for qualified professionals to assist you with your project. There are numerous tools that allow you to narrow your search using particular keywords, to ensure you find the talent and skill set you’re looking for. It’s important to note that this method takes a large investment of time; you may find yourself with piles of resumes to look through and dozens of interviews to schedule, and this can be difficult when you have a demanding timeline for your project. 

Next, how do I vet them if I’m not working with a recruiting firm?

The most important way to vet your candidates is to maximize your interview time with them. 

Dive into each candidate’s skill set and assess their competencies by asking them to elaborate on their experiences, successes and failures. Ask direct questions that incorporate the problems your company is facing or the gaps that exist within your organization. It’s important to fully understand where these gaps lie in your current team’s skill set, as this will help you determine which questions to ask candidates during interviews. 

Another important tip for hiring interim professionals is to focus less on culture and more on skill set. Of course, you shouldn’t totally disregard valuable soft skills, but in an interim project, it’s more about a candidate’s background and ability to step in and contribute. 

Finally, it’s important to understand the consultant’s background. Are they a true consultant? Is consulting their profession or are they in between jobs? 

If a consultant is in between jobs, it’s helpful to understand their level of commitment to you. Make sure there is ongoing transparency on both sides if the consultant will be searching for full-time work throughout your interim project. 

Clear communication between both parties will help alleviate any uncertainty about expectations. Plus, if you reach the end of the project and are impressed with their performance, you can always offer to bring them on for the long haul. 

How do I vet them if I am working with a recruiting firm?

A key benefit of working with a recruiting firm is time saved—and this applies during every stage of the hiring process. Recruiting firms allow organizations to avoid stacks of resumes and countless interviews; they provide a streamlined process for quickly obtained the most qualified pool of talent. 

Once you’ve thoroughly discussed your interim project needs with your recruiting firm, they will provide you with a number of hand-selected resumes that are professionally vetted, making sure each candidate has the background and skill set to meet your project needs. After you review the resumes, either you or your recruiting firm can conduct candidate interviews to ensure you get the best professional match for your interim assignment.

This route also creates a smooth onboarding process, so you can return to your day-to-day duties faster and keep your organization moving forward. Even better – the recruiting agency handles payroll, benefits, background checks, and administrative functions for the consultants.

In conclusion…

Having interim accounting and finance professionals can be a huge benefit to your organization. The experience they bring, coupled with their ability to support projects for your organization without overworking your current staff, is key. You may see a slight uptick in cost, but the long-term benefits that accounting and finance consultants bring to your organization is immense.

Contact your local Vaco team for business solutions here.

Kyle Allen is the managing partner of Vaco’s Nashville office. Learn more about Kyle and his team of industry experts.

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