An excerpt from Accounting Today’s article by Richard Stanger and Carolyn Carlson, Winning the War for Talent.
Great firms acquire and develop talent from the bottom up, starting with entry-level hires. There are three keys to successful campus recruiting:
Get your partners involved, beginning with campus interviews. Nothing gets the attention of candidates more than seeing that your partners are committed to hiring and developing great staff. If candidates “connect” with your partners they will be interested in your firm.
Pick the right partners for this critical role, it’s important. If you make an honest assessment, only about 15% of partners will shine in this role. You need to identify them and then they need to bring committed energy to the schools that you target.
Interview with curiosity and sell your firm strongly, highlighting what makes your firm great. Keep the questions simple, letting the candidates’ responses provide the content.
Here are a few suggestions, keeping in mind that entry-level candidates have little or no work experience from which to answer questions, and the generational difference between interviewer and candidate can make it difficult to “connect.”
• Ask open-ended questions. These are questions that cannot be answered in a single word or phrase. Here is a good example of an open-ended question: “Tell me about your interest in the accounting profession?” This seemingly simple question is very powerful and highly behavioral in nature. The response can go in many directions.
• Don’t ask “why” questions. They put the candidate on the defensive and will make your firm seem like a “not so friendly” place to work. A safe alternative to a “why” question is “give me some insight into your thinking about …?”
• Ask “tell me more” frequently. It will show how deeply the candidate can go into a subject, quickly exposing borrowed stories from classmates as well as a lack of curiosity and thoroughness.
• Ask the candidate what he’d like to know about your firm. It’s a great test of curiosity and preparation. It’s also much better than you giving him a canned sound bite.
The bottom line: Great firms acquire and develop talent from the bottom up, starting with entry-level hires. The keys are to get your partners involved on campus, pick the right partners to participate, be curious during interviews and sell your firm.