If you’re looking to land your next accountancy role, preparing for your next interview can be a daunting process.
To help you make sure the numbers are stacked in your favour, we’ve asked two of our accountancy experts for their advice.
Mark McGarry, finance commerce consultant in Robert Walters’ Sydney office, tells his candidates to make sure their CVs show their career progression. “One key thing candidates forget to include in their CVs is promotions. Instead of just saying ‘financial accountant’ for four years, put ‘junior accountant’ for two years and ‘financial accountant’ for two years. This will show hiring managers that you have succeeded in your previous roles and been rewarded.”
Part of this CV storytelling should include detailing your own personal achievements in every role you’ve had. As he explains, “focusing on any process improvements you’ve implemented —such as reducing tax or introducing a new way of financial reporting — will quickly show hiring managers what you’re capable of and what you’d bring to the role.”
Mark also reminds his applicants to list out all their credentials and expertise that might be linked to the role. “All relevant experience should be highlighted clearly on your CV,” he says. “Alongside any chartered accountancy qualifications, you should also include the technical knowledge you have, as experience with IT software and systems is increasingly important to hiring managers.”
“While it depends on the role, accountancy candidates should look into the company’s annual statement report and recent news, such as business expansions and product launches,” advises Aureen Na, senior commerce finance consultant in Robert Walters’ Indonesia office. “Additionally, there are many accounting treatments, but the Indonesian GAAP and IFRS are the top two that candidates need to understand.”
Beyond research into the company, understanding the local market is also important. “Local policies and regulations may differ significantly from general international accounting policies, and candidates must be familiar and aware of these differences,” shares Aureen. “For instance, tax in Indonesia is rather complicated, but it’s necessary knowledge for candidates to do their jobs well.”
“Companies in Indonesia sometimes have their own technical tests developed by the CFO. More than looking out for technical abilities, these case studies and tests aim to ascertain the candidate’s behavioural and soft skills,” says Aureen.
“Traditionally, accounting was a back-office function, but this has changed in recent years as the function has evolved towards a business partnering model. Particularly in junior and middle-level roles, these technical tests are an opportunity for candidates to speak up, demonstrate their enthusiasm, and showcase their ability to work with stakeholders,” she adds. “Don’t be afraid to be more vocal in the interview. Ask a lot of questions and be proactive about sharing work you have done in the past.”
Being able to communicate is important in any job you apply for but, as Mark advises his applicants, in an accountancy role a hiring manager will want assurances that you are able to work successfully with people outside your immediate team and communicate with other stakeholders.
Companies today are looking for candidates who can collaborate with other business functions to directly, or indirectly drive growth. “Accounting sits at the centre of any business. All departments have to work with the accounting and finance teams, so hiring managers are really looking for candidates with strong interpersonal skills,” says Aureen. “To shine in their role, candidates need to prove they can build partnerships across departments and with various stakeholders.”
In an interview setting, Mark reminds his candidates to focus solely on why they want the job. “Discussing the reasons why you want to leave your current position could lead to some red flags for the interviewer. Make sure you stay focused on the pull factors of the job that you are interviewing for instead.”
Ask smart and relevant questions about the business to demonstrate your level of interest in the role. “Use the research you have carried out about the company to ask insightful questions. Providing context to your question will help you showcase that you’ve done adequate research and are being thoughtful about your questions,” advises Aureen. “Avoid asking questions about salary and work hours during the interview as that may reflect poorly on your motivation and working habits.”
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