How to Spot High Potential Accounting Talent


You have two great candidates. One of them has more experience, while the other has more potential. The one with potential has demonstrated commitment and passion in both her professional and personal life. The candidate with more experience is applying for yet another mid-level position.

Who to choose?

It can be tempting to hire the candidate with more experience. But if you’re hiring for a start-up, or you need someone who can grow with an organization, then it’s potential that wins the day. And since potential is fueled primarily by an employee’s aspirations, you can’t really teach it.

Here’s how to spot high potential accounting talent.

The Resume
Look for:

  • Candidates who quantify their success with specific numbers.
  • Candidates who use verbs or descriptions that convey passion and commitment – indicative of a growth focused, ambitious candidate.
  • Candidates whose accomplishments speak of innovation or “outside of the box” thinking.

ReadThe Best Finance Resume We Ever Received” to learn which kind of resumes should make you sit up and take notice.

The Interview
There are a number of questions you can ask to determine if the candidate will bring passion and possibility to a role.

  • Which of our company’s core values resonated with you the most?

Why: Asking a question like this helps you determine alignment between the candidate and the company’s core values. The more research a candidate has done on your organization, and their ability to articulate why the company is a fit for their core values, helps you assess commitment and buy-in at an early stage.

  • How do you stay up to date on industry information?

Why: Does the candidate show an interest in their industry? Do they have a blog they follow, or a LinkedIn group they participate in? Do they go to industry events? The more invested the candidate is in their profession, the greater their passion and therefore their potential.

  • Can you explain a time that you took the initiative to make something happen? What was the result?

Why: Candidates who demonstrate initiative often have great potential. They are typically self-motivated and driven. A candidate who initiates change is a potential leader and someone who can likely grow with your organization.

Read: “How to Build Tomorrow’s Finance Leaders” to learn how to identify and mentor your company’s future change makers.

The Candidate’s Questions
Questions that reveal curiosity during the interview process are strong indicators of potential. While it’s good that candidates are interested in what success looks like at the 6 month or 1 year mark, it’s even better if they ask questions that address the company’s mission, vision or strategic direction. A candidate who asks run-of-the-mill questions, or worse yet, no questions at all, is definitely showing you a red flag.

Read: If you want more information about hiring potential over experience, read “Hire New Employees for Their Potential Not Their Past.

Key Takeaways
Potential and experience are not mutually exclusive. In an ideal world, a candidate would have the experience you want, and the potential to grow with your organization. That being said, identifying candidates with high potential should be a priority in your hiring process. Look for outcome focused language on their resumes that speaks to passion or innovation. Take note of those candidates who ask questions during the interview that show curiosity and a desire to understand the company’s mission. A candidate with potential will always try to rise to the occasion and their drive to succeed can be the fuel for exceptional results.

Your Next Step
No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

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