Applications / career development

What accounting firms are looking for in an applicant when hiring

Finance is the heart and soul of business. It’s the cog that keeps everything turning, and without it even the best businesses would struggle. So, it’s not surprising that accounting is, and will always be, an in-demand role.From sole traders to limited companies and beyond, businesses of all sizes rely on the types of services which accountants offer to help them thrive.

But what are accounting firms looking for when they recruit? Whilst you’ll normally need the relevant qualifications and accountancy knowledge, that’s not always the case. Lots of firms offer training programmes these days, where you can start as a Junior and train as you work. But despite what most people think, it’s not all about numbers. As an accountancy firm, we explain what else we’re looking for when we interview for new accountants.

Soft skills

Hitting all the required soft skills is a superpower on its own. If you aren’t familiar with this term, it basically refers to the personal attributes that help you interact and work effectively with clients, your team members and your bosses. They’re mainly made up of 4 factors.

Communication skills: You’ll spend a lot of time talking to clients, and a lot of that will involve explaining complex topics. Which is easier said than done! It’s your job to simplify any jargon and ensure your clients feel at ease.

Self-management:  This is a busy role, so you’ll need to know what to prioritise, how to organise your documents, and stay on top of everything. It comes with practice, and good mentors!

Problem solving and thinking skills: Problems are always going to pop up. Some will jump out of nowhere and take you by surprise, and others you’ll be able to spot in advance. With your clients relying on you, it’s up to you to come up with the solutions.

Leadership and teamwork skills: Even if you’re not the team leader, there may be times when you need to take charge. This could be helping your colleague out with a client or using your own initiative before you’re asked to do something.

Attention to detail

The role of an accountant almost always means managing huge amounts of important data, and we mean a lot of it. Accuracy in this role is an absolute must, and it’ll be your job to manage this data and spot any errors, with your clients relying on you to prepare their accounts accurately. Along with identifying mistakes, any documents or data you send needs to make sense.

Think of it like this. If the document or report in question was sent to you without explanation, would you know what it was for, and what to do next with it? If it’s unclear, it’ll delay things with your client, so don’t overlook the smaller details that will help everyone understand what’s going on. If in doubt, ask a colleague to check it over. Attention to detail will also help you spot patterns or trends in the data you receive, and this is where your clients really need your expertise when it comes to cost savings.

The ability to pick things up quicky

As an accountant, your job will involve using bookkeeping tools and managing clients on a CRM (Customer Relationship Management System), which we promise, isn’t as scary as it sounds. The good news is if you’re just starting out, you’re most likely looking for entry level roles. With these types of roles, employers will train you up on their software, making you a pro in no time. All you’ll need is the aptitude for learning and before you know it, it’ll be like second nature to you. You’ve got this!

Innovative skills

Being able to problem solve and innovate can make you extremely valuable in all aspects of life. Someone who displays great innovative skills is extremely handy, especially in the workplace! Whether this be finding solutions to cut costs, make documenting easier or helping your colleagues work more efficiently, it’s these skills that can make you a top candidate. For example, your colleague is catching up on work after a few unexpected days off. You can see they’re struggling to catch up on their emails, while answering the phone to frustrated clients. So, you suggest everyone in the team takes it in turns to answer their phone, pick up any queries and writing down any important messages for your colleague to get back to. This takes the stress off them and enables them to catch up on their emails and help their clients much more successfully.

We’d recommend if you have any similar stories to share them in interviews so you can really show off your innovative skills!

In conclusion..

Every job interview will be different, and you should always spend time researching the company to find out more about their ethos and what the best candidates looks like to them. Good luck!

Author bio: Article written by Rachael Johnston – Content Marketing Executive at The Accountancy Partnership

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