Accounting assessment tests can reveal information about a candidate’s skills, abilities and culture fit, but they have their limitations. Learn more here.
Accounting interview assessment test results can give you a good idea of accounting job candidates’ technical aptitude, how they strategize, solve problems, and their ability to measure, process and communicate financial information. They’ll show you what candidates know ‑ and don’t know.
These tests are important because of the nature of the job: Accountants are responsible for making sure an individual’s or a company’s finances are transparent, and little mistakes can result in big problems.
If you’re the owner of an accounting or bookkeeping firm hiring for the first time or you’d like to use new or other assessment tests in your recruitment process, you may be wondering which ones to use. This article is here to help you with that.
When to give accounting interview assessment tests
You may wish to ask candidates to complete a test before you actually interview them. This will save you time interviewing multiple candidates because the test results will help you determine which ones may be best for the job.
And you wouldn’t be alone: 82 per cent of companies are using some form of pre-employment assessment test, according to Talent Board research.
Types of accounting interview assessment tests
When it comes down to what accounting skill test or custom test to administer, there are several options. You can go the traditional route with an aptitude test, or ask a candidate to complete a case study or an emotional intelligence test, too.
While each type of test serves a purpose and reveals information about a candidate, they all have limitations. Let’s take a closer look.
Accounting aptitude tests
Many accounting assessment tests exist for a variety of roles: data entry, accounts payable, accounts receivable, bookkeeper, financial statements, payroll, taxes, QuickBooks, and even basic math skills. So which ones to administer to candidates depends on the role you’re looking to fill.
At TOA Global, for example, candidates undergo an English test and an accounting assessment test. If the job requires QuickBooks, for example, they will undergo a third assessment.
Aptitude tests gauge what a candidate currently knows. They don’t consider their ability to learn, which is a great quality in a job candidate. For example, a new accounting graduate may have limited knowledge but be a fast learner or able to adapt to new ideas and information.
High emotional intelligence is said to enable collaboration in the workplace.
Emotional intelligence tests
American psychology professors Peter Salovey and John Mayer developed the concept of emotional intelligence (EI) in the 1990s, thereby kicking off the emergence of EI in the workplace. EI is the ability to perceive, understand, express and regulate emotions, and to use them to promote emotional and intellectual growth.
When it comes to accountants, “high EI” comes into play, for example, when serving clients in a situation where they and you may be under pressure. Demonstrating calm, empathy and attentive customer service are indicators of high EI when a worried client comes to you for help two weeks before a tax deadline. Those EI qualities you display, in turn, can also calm your client.
When it comes to testing EI, test takers may not always report the truth about their own EI abilities. They may provide answers to questions they believe you want to see. Also, individuals need to be fairly self-aware in order to provide accurate answers.
Accounting case studies
In this instance, you provide a candidate with a fake client profile and ask them to complete a task using the information in the profile. For example, completing a tax return for an individual or a business, based on the information in the profile.
Completing a case study mimics what a candidate would actually be doing on the job and can provide insight into the way a candidate works, how long they take to complete an assignment, the quality of their work and attention to detail.
Bear in mind that you should allow candidates adequate time in which to complete a case study, as they can take some time to complete, depending on their scope. Then you need to take time to evaluate the completed work, so consider this in your hiring process.
Assessment tests for senior-level accounting roles
Accounting roles at the senior level require more complex and developed traits, skills and abilities, such as strong planning, leadership, communication, problem-solving and strategic thinking skills. Therefore, assessments for these senior roles should obviously draw out these traits and skills.
One way to do this is to give candidates an assignment in which they tackle a specific strategic challenge. Outline the issue in a paragraph or two, provide some background information, and ask the candidate how he or she would address the problem, and to provide a proposed timeline and action plan.
You can then discuss the completed assignment with the candidate in a follow-up interview (if his or her work impressed you), which means this assignment would be given to the candidate after an initial interview.
You may have heard that asking senior-level candidates to prepare a presentation is the way to go. This is really only effective if the candidate is applying for a role in which he or she will be required to make presentations on a regular basis.
Presentations as an assessment run the risk of focusing too much on showmanship and presentation style. They also require time to prepare and assess. Assignments also require time, but they can probably be completed in less time than it takes to prepare a presentation.
Obviously accounting job candidates should be handy with numbers. An aptitude test can reveal just how handy they are.
There are several accounting tests hiring managers may wish to have job candidates complete. These include an aptitude test, which will reveal how much a candidate knows and their skill level; an emotional intelligence test, which can give you an idea of how well they will work with and relate to clients and colleagues; and a case study, which can provide insight into how a candidate processes information and the quality of work.
Employers should not only consider the role they are filling regarding which test (and how many) to give candidates, but that assessment tests only measure a few traits. However, combined with answers to interview questions and reference checks, assessment tests can provide a more complete picture of a candidate’s skills, abilities and whether or not they will be a fit for your firm.
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