If you have finally come to terms with the need to hire a bookkeeper for your business, then you must naturally be wondering what the best requirements for hiring one are. Before you hold interviews for potential candidates, read on below to find what are the main criteria that every knowledgeable bookkeeper should be able to clear:
General competencies and skills – to begin with, any bookkeeper or small business accountant you will be hiring should naturally be possessing the basic financial skills and expertise for which they are being hired. Obviously, most, if not all, candidates who will be coming for your interviews will meet these requirements. But what you should be looking out for is the other soft skills any individual benefits from possessing: the ability to communicate efficiently and in a way that other people can understand, the ability to socialize well (especially if your bookkeepers are going to be interacting with your clients!), the ability to organize and keep records neatly and tidily, and of course, an aptitude for business.
Experience – when it comes to experience, most people tend to look for the length of experience: the ones with the most experience are the best qualified. Whilst this train of thought is not necessarily wrong, when it comes to hiring bookkeepers, it might be worthwhile to look into the relevance of their experience, rather than the length per se. What this means, basically, is that the bookkeepers that have previously worked in industries or companies that are related to your line of work will naturally be able to fit in and adapt better than others who have not (and in the latter case, you most likely will have to train the new recruits).
Certifications – unlike in the case of accountants, bookkeepers are not legally required to hold certifications in most countries. Of course, this does not mean that there are no organizations that give out certifications; on the contrary, there are probably many organizations that do so. This is why you should nevertheless check the certifications and qualifications a bookkeeper possesses. A quick search of the most reputed certifications can easily give you an idea of how qualified any particular candidate is. In the same vein, you can also look for membership of any professional unions or groups of bookkeepers as a sign of professionalism: the members of these are most definitely up to date with the latest practices in the field.
Relationship and trust level – and finally, this last point can be somewhat tricky to gauge. Good relationships and a high level of trust are, after all, things that build up over time. However, you can get a glimpse of this by questioning any candidate on their previous mistakes: see to what extent they are honest about their own faults and how they made up for it.