Episode 31: How To Test Potential Hires In Your Accounting Firms ┃For Grinders & Minders Role
In this episode of The Wize Guys, Brenton Ward, Jamie Johns, and Ed Chan discuss the pre-employment tests to conduct with candidates and give tips on how to find the right people with the right attitude for your Accounting Practice.
Learn the difference between the grinder and minder roles that will best suit the accounting posts within your firm.
0:35 - The importance of having the right attitude
1:42 - Tips for hiring people for your accounting practice
2:45 - Why context in the test is essential in filtering applicants
3:22 - FREE Tool!! Accounting Tests for Wize Members
4:43 - 'I know how to do it’ vs 'Doing the actual task'
6:10 - Why speed is everything to accounting firms
7:49 - What does it take to be in the Minders Role
10:36 - Which personality test to use for green and blue persons
15:01 - Key takeaways for Grinders and Minders Role Testing
“Attitude is everything.” - Ed Chan
“Some accountants are not suited to our industry, so not all accountants are suited to our industry, and often they should go off and work in a commercial firm where speed isn't an issue, but for us, speed is everything.” - Ed Chan
“A blue person's more focused on numbers, while a green person's more people orientated.” - Ed Chan
“... the personality test testing works better with a minder finder than it does with a grinder.” - Ed Chan
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Episode 31: How To Test Potential Hires In Your Accounting Firms ┃For Grinders & Minders Role
Ed Chan: What will happen is that the people that have the right attitude. For example, nothing is too much trouble, it doesn't matter. You've thrown a hundred things at them to come back to you with. The hundredth thing is not as is still as enthusiastic about getting it to you as the first thing. Then if they have this attitude of nothing is too much trouble, then guess what? They're gonna be like that for your clients as well, right? So you want someone that's gotta has the right attitude that nothing is too much trouble when it comes to your clients. But if you have the other way where you've asked them a few things and they grumble about getting it to you, then they're gonna be like that with your clients and you don't want that kind of a person. So attitude is everything. Put them through the toughest task that you can put them through, put them through as many things as you get them to do. And if they still come out of that with the right attitude, then you've gotta you're somewhat more likely to get the right person.
Jamie Johns: Yeah, I agree.
Brenton Ward: Let's just put this up guys, between grinding roles, and minding roles. So we've covered off on attitude and then just to get a little bit more specific, Jamie, on some of the tools that you use. Because we've got a few questions on what sort of tools and platforms to use on the skill side and testing productivity. What would you suggest as the tips there?
Jamie Johns: Yeah, the tips there. I think for accountants and bookkeepers, we've been using account tests. The guys based, they're obviously based out in New Zealand, but they have an array of accounting and bookkeeping tests, I think around five countries now. So those tests cover all the accounting books and bookkeeping questions right up to the level of being a chartered accountant. And not only that, they're timed as well. So in terms of those tests, they're being quite good.
The sort of tip there is to get context, I often say to all the firm owners I'm dealing with is you can do the tests yourself and you can do them for free. Obviously, if you do the test when you get the candidate's results, you'll have an understanding of where they're at. And even better than that, if you get down to two or three candidates, then test two or three and put 'em in a spreadsheet side by side. There's like a spreadsheet, you can do that in the vault. Again, that gives you context because context is everything.
It's just someone on the island it's very hard to see sort of where they're at. So account test is one for administration staff that I've even used at Sky. There is the test done, you can have a look at that, it's called testdome.com. There's also Test Gorilla and some of those tests are really good for administration and reception. So around grammar service, just service levels, reception sort of thing. So there's some other, so you want to definitely wanna make. Like Ed said, put them through the tests and I always ask people to do the test. When I've chosen the candidates, I always do that face-to-face. And so if I get a good candidate, I can see that their attitude's good. Once they've jumped through a lot of the hoops, I'll ask them to do the test face to face and then they know that you are committed and you'll see whether they're committed or not as well. So there are some things around productivity, Brenton, because you must test people.
Brenton Ward: Yeah, Just on that as well, for everyone who was listening to the account test, they are actually a wise expertise partner. So if you go into your online vault on wizementoring.com, go to Wize expertise partners, there's a special offer from the account test guys there for Wize members.
Let's move to the minder then, how do they differ in terms of...
Ed Chan: Before we go the minder, can I just add to what Jamie? Jamie said on the grinder, the kind of people that we want as a grinder in our industry is different from the accountants that you want in a commercial firm or a public service, right? The people that we are looking for as a grinder has to have speed, right? So you've got those three things, you've got the attitude and we talked about that with grinder Brenton. Could you just go back to the grinder?
Yeah. That it. Oh no, yeah, that's it.
So you need the attitude. So we talked about that put them through hell with what you need back from them and then you've gotta then look at their skills because they often tell you they can do this and they can do that and they can do this and they can do that. But what I do is I get them to do some jobs. I get them to do some jobs. So I can see whether they can actually do the job or not. As I said, they always say they can do the job, but their definition of being able to do it and your definition of being able to do could be completely different. So I get three tasks and I get them to do three tasks.
Then the last thing is, in our industry, accountants have to be quick. So if they're taking an hour to do something, when somebody else takes 10 minutes to do it, it's costing you three times as much for that person. So then we measure how fast they've taken to do to do those tasks that you've asked them to do.
Now as a grinder, there's nowhere to hide attitude. They show you they can do it by actually doing three tasks and then you've measured how fast they've got it done. And that is the best way in my view, after many, many, many years of managing and hiring people. When it comes to the grinder, to the person that does the work, you want someone that can do it very, very quickly. And as I said to you in the beginning, some accountants are not suited to our industry, so not all accountants are suited to our industry and often they should go off and work in a commercial firm where speed isn't an issue, but for us, speed is everything. I just wanted to make sure that I emphasize that when you're looking and you're recruiting a grinder.
Brenton Ward: Thanks, Ed.
Just for everyone listening, and this is being recorded, so if you do have to go on the hour, you'll be able to access the end of the recording. We're probably going to be at this rate probably five or 10 minutes over if you're happy to stick around and if you have any questions, we can stay around as you need to as well.
But let's move on to testing for a minder, Jamie. So again, we've spoken about the attitude piece, but then it comes down to looking really at the interpersonal skills and communication skills. So can you touch on that a little bit?
Jamie Johns: Yeah, and this is really important, particularly if you're with the minder role, a senior production manager, and even the client managers and you've got some really good dot points on the screen there. Often when I'm doing the recruiting, I'll ask if have they had direct recruit or direct reports before. Have they managed people? And then delve into the sort of if you can, and sometimes it's difficult to get the information, and often you can get this information from reference checks. So when they organize their own reference checks, you can ask the referee, ‘How do they manage people? Did they have much turnover while they were in that job with the people that they were supervising?’
It's sort of a different level to a grinder obviously, because you're starting to manage people and you're trying to work out how well they can manage people. And particularly, for some people, you can give them staff members or team members, but they don't engage with them and they end up with what Ed calls a paid audience. They can't delegate. It's so critical that someone in this mindset, in this role as a minder and even a client manager will drive with the leadership to do the daily huddle of being and seeing people where they're sitting there and doing nothing. Particularly with offshore staff, outta sight outta mind. And it's a global world now.
So even when you've got staff in the office. I've seen people who really need help and they're just not getting it because the person who's in charge of them doesn't have a focus around it. Well, I've got a team of people who deliver the service. Then again, it's so easy too in this role to have people control freaks. They just won't delegate. They'll say to themselves all quicker, I just do it myself. And so they're the sort of questions that you need to drill down into even when you're looking at their references. Because sometimes the testing around actual tasks and the technical side won't reveal this. So you've gotta some of that psychometric testing can help with this. I'm not a massive fan of that, but some of it can show whether we're inclined to be more engaged with team members and working in a team than just by ourselves.
Brenton Ward: Ed, just on that point, the personality testing, because we always get people asking about which personality tests to use. I remember early on in Chan & Naylor, you guys had almost built out your own personality assessment. Where do you stand on that today in terms of personality testing candidates?
Ed Chan: Yeah, I think the personality testing works a bit better for the minder and finder rather than the grinder. The grinder for me is just those three things. If they pass those three things, then they can have two heads. It doesn't really matter because they're all production orientated. So, when it comes to minder, it's more the personality and their people skills and their ability to communicate. I just have three things, obviously, it starts off with attitude, then I just ask a whole lot of technical questions. So they have to have the ability to answer all the technical questions, like explain to me how do you explain to a client when you know you've shown a hundred thousand dollars profit and you've said to them that their tax bill is 30 grand, but they've got no money in the bank. You have to be able to explain to the client where their money is and that has a different level of command of English or communication compared to the grinder where they've just said, ‘Can you send me your missing bank statement?’ So it's a different level of communication.
So I asked them a whole lot of questions about explaining division 7A and how you'd explain to a client that they've got a debit loan account. But in layman's terms, so the speed isn't as essential in the minder or finder role. It's more about the person communicating. I don't know when to talk to a green person compared to a blue person. A blue person's more focused on numbers, while a green person's more people orientated. So you can always tell when you are talking to a blue or a green person, when you ask them, ‘How's your day?’ The blue person says, ‘Yes, it was good,’ and he wants to get stuck into it. The green person will say, ‘Yeah, it was great,’ or ‘I picked my kids up, drop them off, and the weather's great.’ They like to talk about things to do with people. And so that means there's a different way to communicate to a green as to post or a blue person. With a blue person, you focus on the numbers, but with a green person you just say your profit is this and your tax is this. Then you go off and you talk about their kids and ‘How is Young Johnny's school day today?’
So you need to be able to connect that at that level and the person needs to have the emotional intelligence to be aware of those kinds of things. Whereas, a grinder just is focused on getting the work done very, very quickly. So, the personality test testing works better with a minder finder than it does with a grinder.
But I'm like Jamie, I'm a little bit skeptical of them. I've only had 50-50 sort of success, but if you follow our system of recruiting and there's no way to hide it. It just cuts to the chase and, saves a lot of time as well because of a lot of this psychological testing. They go around and around and around and around the circles. I just want from a mind these three things, they have to be able to answer the questions, they have to be able to respond to emails and phone calls, they have to be people orientated, and have to be technically knowledgeable but not necessarily know how to do the work. Only 80% because the last 20% I'm gonna fill that role or the owner's gonna fill that role. That's all I look for.
Brenton Ward: Perfect!
Well, guys, I wanna just set the scene for our next clinic, which is in two weeks' time, we'll have a candidate accept a role and we're going to be doing the onboarding process over the first sort of 90 days with that new employee. So that conversation will be parked for the next clinic in a couple of weeks' time. But just to wrap up the content here, we'll get to any questions that anyone has or if you need to leave. Once we've gone through this testing, ‘What's the next, very next thing you do to make sure you seal the deal?’ Coming back to acting fast, is there any tips or tricks around this area of just making sure you secure that candidate?
Jamie Johns: Yeah, I'd just say the biggest thing is to be responsive Brenton, and make them an offer. But if you get sidetracked with the next tax return or something, you'll just lose the person. I couldn't stress finding the right people and building out your team and then getting them inducted, and embedded in is one of the most critical things you'll ever do to build your firm. It's all about the people, the people, the people.
Years ago I was, I think I said it before, I used to be client fanatical, but these days on team fanatical. So that's, that's the mindset because you wanna go to work, not to do the tax return or do the bookkeeping. Eventually, you want to go to work to build a business that does the bookkeeping and that does. And it's the people that'll help you do it.
Brenton Ward: Just a quick question from Adam. Adam on that process from say first interview to the job offer, ‘How long do you normally allow for in terms of timeframe there on average?’
Jamie Johns: One week. Okay.
Brenton Ward: One week.
Jamie Johns: Yep.
Brenton Ward: That's nice and easy.
Ed, before we get to any questions about that period we're talking about between interviews and offer, is anything else to add there to seal the deal?
Ed Chan: Well for me is if you find the right candidates, straightaway. If I can get it all done and the testing done, everything done within a day, I'd offer it to them if they were the right person. So I wouldn't waste too much time, but it generally will take about a week because you're gonna have quite a few candidates come through. You've gotta get them through all of the testings, the questions, and you gotta try and decide who it is. And so on average, it is about a week. If you're going more than a week, then you're gonna lose the candidate. But there are times when it's gone much quicker because it was obvious who the right person was. And I just made the offer without having to waste more time. So it's all different.