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In The National Interest: An FD’s guide to recruitment

In a time of increasing financial constraint, it is essential that people brought into organisations significantly enhance the performance of the existing teams. My own view is that open, competitive recruitment both ensures maximum value for money and, just as importantly, equality of opportunity.

This approach, if approached properly, will ensure each appointment adds to the competitive advantage of the team.

With this in mind I’ve come up with my own ‘do’s and don’ts’ of recruitment for FDs.

Do:

  • Be clear on the nature of role you are filling and the skills and abilities required from the candidate
  • Advertise widely
  • Have a short specification that does not make the job too prescriptive
  • Have a clear approach and scoring mechanism. This will help inform your decision-making
  • Test thoroughly, but make sure tests are relevant to the job
  • Have a final panel of three or five members
  • Try to help candidates to relax before the interview – you’ll enable them to perform at their optimum
  • Encourage strong internal candidates, but don’t be tempted to automatically weight the process in their favour
  • Be sure you’re appointing on the basis of performance through the process, not on any outside, non-relevant factors
  • Make sure feedback to shortlisted candidates is honest and informed, and focus as much on the unsuccessful as the successful

Don’t:

  • Be swayed by irrelevant history or assumptions
  • Let recruitment consultants drive the process – they may have their own agenda. The better ones can add value, but make sure they work to your brief
  • Operate on the basis of any prejudices
  • Just test technical skills, management and communication skills will be just as important in key roles
  • Try and manipulate the process to achieve a pre-ordained outcome. A good process will guide you to the correct result
  • Use tests that don’t add value to the process
  • Become a slave of the process at the expense of judgement
  • Interview candidates that have no chance. This is a waste of your and their time and will ultimately reflect badly on the organisation

These are a few ideas of how recruitment should be done in the finance arena – common sense, but not always followed I’ve found. In recent years I have used this approach and made no appointments that I have subsequently come to regret: quite the opposite. I believe this simple and fair approach produces results that add value to the existing teams.

As the Hounslow finance team is currently shortlisted FD’s sister title Accountancy Age’s Team of the Year award, I can only assume that we are doing something right! See some of you on Wednesday 17 November at the awards ceremony!

Stephen Fitzgerald is FD for Hounslow Borough Council

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