Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Working with Mercy Corps' Prospects Programme to find an Apprentice Bookkeeper

by Farzana Rasheed

Left to right: Agnes, William, Janneh and Farzana
New Africa Technology Company reached out to Mercy Corps' team to help it find a bookkeeper. As you know, we've been having lots of problems finding and retaining a qualified Quickbooks expert. 

Currently, Rita Gailor, who joined NATC through Mercy Corps' Prospects programme, is filling the gap by maintaining our ledger, producing weekly and monthly reports and, maintain our filing. 

William Marshall,  Entrepreneurship & Employment Coordinator at Prospects, has been working with me to find candidates for interview for a bookkeeper since August. We had a first round of interviews on 7 September with 3 young women but failed to find an appropriate candidate. 

We had applicants who had studied accounting for several years at well-known universities but in the interview, they could not answer basic questions about bookkeeping or accounting principles. 

We asked William to post the opportunity again and this time, to only short list candidates who had worked with Quickbooks. The programme did not find any candidates with Quickbooks experience but with the relevant degree and some experience. 

We had a second round of interviews with 2 candidates - again, 2 young ladies - and frankly, I was again quite shocked and disappointed with their poor knowledge in their own field of study. The interview performance was shaky and nervous. We took a simple practical test in Excel and both candidates performed poorly. In the written test, one candidate performed better and, was able to express herself clearly and, with more confidence. 

So what should I do? Let Rita continue to help us with simple bookkeeping and, miss out on technical work on site? Or, should I give a chance to one of these young candidates, take the pains on training them, and hopefully, get a hardworking young professional who can be good for the company in the long term? 

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