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Calculating the Cost of a Bad Hire


We have all hired or worked with that nightmare accountant. Within the first few hours you think it’s a bad call. Within a week you know it is. They might seem to lack any true comprehension of what accounting is all about, constantly get the same things wrong, don’t know basic Dr’s and Cr’s and they spend hours going in circles on an issue asking your whole team the same questions (or even worse not asking anyone!). You can’t trust anything they do and someone on the team has to pretty much redo everything.


Want to see if Accountests will work for your company or firm?  Click on the button for a FREE trial worth up to $200 - use it on a candidate or get one of your staff to give it a go and see what they think.  


What is the cost of this person to your accounting or bookkeeping firm? There are lots of figures bandied about – 100% of salary, 140% of salary. As ‘good’ accountants we say “how did they work that out”? When you dig in these calculations are often quite generic, and not specifically related to the reality of an accounting practice. We decided to do some research on this, but also added in 25+ years of experience in hiring accounting staff – and how the pain plays out when you get it wrong.


Have you ever made recruitment decisions you lived to regret?  Are you given recruitment responsibilities on top of your day job and struggle to find time to do it all?  Get our compact Accountant & Bookkeeper Recruitment Guide for free.   

An easy reference document covering the whole process from scoping the Job Description for upcoming vacancies, right through to making better job offers than your competitors and sealing the deal, and every step in between.  Written by Accounting firm Partners, HR/People Management professionals within the accounting and bookkeeping sector and drawing on established and emerging best practice in selection techniques in Australasia, the UK and US, you can have access to a wealth of practical recruitment and selection knowledge and links to external expertise and reusable templates whenever you need it.


Our Bad Hire Calculator goes through the cost of hiring, training and ultimately managing out/firing that staff member who just doesn’t have what you need. In an accounting firm this, of course, is not just cash costs, but loss of production and ultimately profit, as well as chewing up time and mental energy of those trying to deal with the problem. We’ve started you off with an initial assessment of the costs to an accounting firm, but you can edit the costs that you think better represent the cost to YOUR firm. Email the results to yourself as a reminder and a talking point with your partners/directors.

People always bring variability but using good processes in selection – and in particular strong interviewing, testing, and reference checking can reduce the likelihood and risk of expensive mistakes.

As one of our customers wrote some time ago “They did badly in the testing. I hired them anyway. They were as bad as the testing suggested, and I had to fire them. Now in the market again for a new accountant ☹”. 

 You can try the Bad Hire Calculator here




About the Authors

Giles Pearson FCA was a PwC Partner for 18 years before jointly setting up Accountests.  

Steve Evans has a whole career dedicated to enabling employers to attract, recruit, develop and retain talented individuals and teams, with particular expertise in candidate testing and assessment before setting up Accountests.

Accountests deliver the world’s only online suite of annually updated and country-specific technical knowledge tests designed by accountants for accountants and bookkeepers. 

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