Everything You Need to Know About Hiring Accounts Receivable Professionals

If you’re building or growing your finance and account team, you’ll want to add accounts receivable professionals to your roster. Accounts receivable professionals, often referred to as Accounts Receivable Clerks, Accounts Receivable Specialists, Accounts Receivable Managers and more, play an integral role in the finance and accounting function of any organization.

Professionals in these roles manage incoming cash that fuels business operations. In addition to their core duties of processing invoices and managing incoming payments, accounts receivable roles can act as client facing representatives to collect overdue accounts on behalf of their organization. This is no easy task and requires a delicate, yet firm approach to ensure overdue payments are collected while maintaining a strong working relationship with the organization’s clients.

“Managing receivables efficiently contributes directly to a company’s short-term success. Improving your cash position influences how much revenue may be available for immediate expenditure needs. If done correctly, this function of Finance can also contribute to a healthy rapport with customers that will foster a lasting relationship.”
Brian Nyandong
Director, Finance & Accounting Recruitment, Altis Recruitment

What do Accounts Receivable professionals do?

Accounts receivable professionals are responsible for everything related to incoming cash and payments. From sending, organizing, reporting, collecting, and depositing payments from the organization’s clients to working within the organization’s accounting systems, structure, and software (which can vary from one organization to the next). These roles typically report to a manager in the finance and accounting department.  

When would you need to hire an Accounts Receivable professional?

Your reason for hiring an accounts receivable professional may vary depending on your organization and the business needs you’re addressing at the time. These are the top four reasons we see teams add accounts receivable professionals to their teams:

1. Growth: Your finance and accounting department is growing and there is a need for an individual to specifically attend to accounts receivables to balance the portfolios of senior finance and accounting professionals so they can focus on more strategic and less transactional responsibilities.

2. Improve Processes: You may find your organization is remarkably busy, and successful from a sales and revenue perspective, but there is a gap in receiving payments in a timely manner to keep the bills paid to operate. Having a sole person responsible for this work can lead to a more streamlined process and structure that could reduce stress in the finance and accounting department.

3. Accuracy: Strategic decisions require accurate books and a clear understanding of incoming cash available for your organization. Record keeping and focus from an accounts receivable perspective can deliver that accuracy to ensure proper reporting is done to support strategic decision making.

4. Act as a Third-Party Representative: It can be hard for sales teams to balance a client relationship if they are playing the role of both salesperson and receivables collector. Accounts receivable professionals can help reduce this burden by managing the collection side of the relationship, especially if other team members in the finance and accounting department don’t have the capacity to take on this role.

What should you look for when hiring Accounts Receivable candidates?

Once you narrow in on your business need for adding an accounts receivable candidate to your team, it’s time to start thinking about your ideal candidate. According to Zip Recruiter, the top mentioned skills in job descriptions for Accounts Receivable Specialists are accounts receivable, invoicing, detail-oriented, reconciling, and communication skills. Keep these in mind when preparing your job description.

Experience: Look for candidates who possess foundational knowledge and experience with basic accounting principles, and understand regulations, guidelines, and industry best practices. Look for financial reporting and data entry experience, with a knack for taking a detail-oriented approach to working with numbers. Basic skills and experience should include invoicing, collecting, and recording customer payments. When interviewing, try to look for candidates who are confidential with customer names when sharing their experience. Confidentiality with customer information is one of the most important characteristics to hire for.

Transferable skills: Previous experience in accounts payable, as an accounting clerk, or bookkeeper could provide the right foundation for a successful candidate in accounts receivable.

Customer Service: Look for proven customer service experience and the ability to clearly articulate and communicate with your internal accounting and finance team. A bonus would be negotiating experience that can come in handy for overdue accounts and optimizing collection.

Software: Look for accounts receivable professionals who have experience with the accounting software and/or ERP systems used by your organization, whether it is Sage Simply Accounting, QuickBooks, Oracle, JDE, SAP or more. Keep in mind that this skill is nice to have but should not be a determining factor when hiring, as software is typically easy to train new hires on. All accounts receivable professionals, however, should have a deep understanding and experience with Microsoft Office including Microsoft Excel.

Education/Background: Although not necessarily a requirement if there is enough relative experience, a bachelor’s degree in finance or accounting will provide a solid foundation for accounts receivable.

Creating your Accounts Receivable job description

Need help creating your job description for an accounts receivable role? No problem, we’ve got you covered. Check out one of our accounts receivable job postings that are live for our clients to use as examples to help you put your requirements and qualifications together.

Interviewing Accounts Receivable professionals

“Asking candidates open-ended questions on their area of expertise is a great way to get insight as to what their core duties/knowledge are with that position. You can assess their technical knowledge and how they would communicate finance and accounting-related matters when speaking with colleagues or management.”
Coleen McPherson
Senior Recruitment Partner, Finance & Accounting Division, Altis Recruitment

Among their important qualities, accounts receivable professionals are required to be problem solvers who are detail-oriented, ethical, decisive and strong communicators. The interview questions below are some of our favorite to ask when you are getting to know professionals who specialize in accounts receivables:

Initial questions to begin the interview:

  • Why did you select accounts receivable as your profession?
  • What is your academic background in accounting or accounts receivables? What credentials and certifications do you possess? How do they benefit you in your profession?
  • If you could create your own job description for two years from now, what would it look like? Please include your top five responsibilities.
  • What is your proficiency with MS Office, specifically MS Excel and/or other accounting related software?
  • From an administrative standpoint, do you write correspondence (letters, emails) in your current role? Would you describe your correspondence as professional or casual? How effective is your written communication?

Accounts receivable specific interview questions:

  • Detail your responsibilities in accounts receivable.
  • Why do you feel excellent accounts receivable execution is important for our business
  • Describe how you would solve a challenging AR recovery? What steps did you take routinely to collect overdue invoices? At what point did a collection become bad debt?
  • How comfortable do you feel making collection calls by phone? What techniques did you find most effective in your calls?
  • What percentage of your current employer’s receivables are over 60 days?
  • Have you ever been involved in a billing dispute? How did you manage the problem?
  • How do you handle insufficient funds received from a customer?

Are you ready to hire an accounts receivable professional for your organization?

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