You will need to be a team player.
There is a myth that all accountancy professionals sit behind their desk with their calculator all day obsessing over and crunching numbers. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. A good accountant will be involved in all departments within an organisation and will work directly with colleagues from Managing Director/CEO to operatives on the ground floor. An accountant will need to know the operations of a business inside out and the only way to get this information is by speaking with everyone involved in the various functions of the organisation. They will need to engage and get along with all staff to adequately explain why they need forecasts and figures in order to budget accordingly for the organisation. If you’re preparing for an interview I would recommend having examples of when you worked on projects with people from different departments and how you successfully worked with these people.
You will need a strong knowledge of international accountancy rules & local tax laws.
If there is one constant in the Accountancy sector, it’s that it’s constantly changing! International accountancy rules change on a regular basis and what you have learned during both your school and professional years may very well be obsolete already. One key quality that every hiring manager will be looking for is a strong and up to date knowledge of international accountancy rules and local tax laws. This will be particularly important if you plan on working with a global multinational as accounting practices and tax laws can vary from country to country. Even accountants that do not specialise in tax accountancy will need to be aware of the local tax laws of each country/market your organisation operates in. I would recommend keeping up to date with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation, who offer free access to the current year’s consolidated unaccompanied English language Standards and official Interpretations (this includes IFRS, IAS*, IFRIC and SIC*).
You will need to be trustworthy.
You must remember that accountancy professionals are, in many cases, privy to confidential company information and are often aware of key strategic plans before the rest of the organisation finds out. For example, perhaps a company is planning to expand into a new market or territory. It is inevitable that the accounts team will be involved in forecasting the costs of this expansion and to identify if additional finance will be required to fund this move. Likewise, when a company is facing financial difficulties and needs to make cuts to funding and in unfortunate cases, staff numbers, the accounts team will be involved in identifying underperforming or inefficient areas of the business. As a result a hiring manager will be keen to recruit accountancy professionals who have experience in keeping classified company information private. Be sure to demonstrate examples of when you have worked on a project that involved sensitive information.
You need to be decisive and persuasive.
One of the main responsibilities of every accountant is making strategic decisions that will impact on the overall operations of the company. In many cases these may be tough or difficult decisions that can involve cutting costs in order to improve efficiencies within the organisation. An accountant will be involved in monitoring and analysing revenue and profitability and will need to find ways of improving these figures and making decisions accordingly. In many cases you will have to persuade the management team of the merits of making these decisions so persuasiveness is another key quality that will be required as an accountant. You will need to confidently explain the rationale behind your decisions and persuade others involved in the decision making process by backing that up with data and research.
You will need to be organised and have strong attention to detail.
This may sound obvious but anyone interested in a career in accountancy will need to be extremely organised and highly attentive to detail. As I have already mentioned, accountants are very often involved in key business decisions, which are made on the basis of data that they have assembled. Ensuring that figures are 100% accurate and error free will be an accountant’s primary responsibility. One little error in a trial balance or P&L statement could have a massive knock on effect and impact the business going forward. When meeting a hiring manager for an interview it is imperative that candidates bring examples that show you are an extremely detailed-orientated person. You will also need to show examples that you are organised and can prioritise your tasks effectively. The world of accountancy is all about deadlines. Whether it’s month end, quarter end or year-end you will always be under pressure to meet deadlines but you must not let attention to detail slip here. You should be prepared to explain how you prioritise your work as well as having examples of situations where you met project deadlines without errors.
With over 13 years’ recruitment experience, Breda Dooley specialises in the permanent, temporary and contract roles in the Accountancy sector for the Midlands and West of Ireland. If you are interested in a career in Accountancy or need assistance with the recruitment of an Accountancy job why not connect with her on LinkedIn or give her a call on 09064 90485