Monthly Archives: February 2017

How to Succeed At Your Accounting Interview

Human Resources Interview Recruitment Job Concept

This week Kara from the Accountancy Partnership talks about the interview process for the accounting sector and gives some useful practical tips on how to ace your interview.

Interviews are no one’s favourite way to spend time but they’re a necessary evil you’ll need to endure. In the increasingly competitive job market, you need to master the basics but also stand out among the competition.

Whether you’re looking for your first job in accounting or have already had some work in this industry in the past, here’s a simple guide on how to prepare for your interview:

Highlight Your Skills

If you’ve been studying accounting or even worked as an accountant before, you’ll have a good idea of what’s required. However, it’s good to remind yourself of the key skills needed to work in this industry.

Analytical skills

As an accountant you’ve got to have an analytical mind with good attention to detail. Errors in accounting can lead to penalties for you or your clients. This could end up costing your company in both penalties and lost clients.

Organisational skills

The chances are you’re going to be working on accounts for several different clients as well as any other duties you have. This means you’re going to have to be organised and able to manage your time effectively, particularly when there are deadlines to meet.

Communication skills

You may have to have a lot of contact with your clients. If so, you will need to be able to explain complex issues with their accounts in a simple and clear way that they can understand.

Tech skills

With the rise of cloud accounting and HMRC’s Making Tax Digital scheme, accountants have to be prepared. Some accountancy firms require accountants to be familiar with or able to learn how to use several different types of bookkeeping software, depending on what each client uses.

Business knowledge

Besides knowing the ins and outs of accounting, it’s also important that you have a clear understanding of how accounting fits into a business. It’s a good idea to keep up to date with what’s going on in your industry but also in the business world as a whole. This will help you when talking with clients or colleagues about the struggles or worries that businesses are facing.

 Demonstrate Your Skills

Once you’re confident you have the necessary skills for a career in accounting, you need to think about how best to show the interviewers this. This means being armed with examples of times you demonstrated these skills.

For each skill listed above and any others the firm considers important, try the STAR technique. It’s a handy way of breaking down your answers into more memorable and structured chunks.

This stands for, Situation, Task, Action and Result. For each skill think about this structure:

  • Situation – explain the situation you were in
  • Task – think of what you had to achieve
  • Action – what actions did you take
  • Result – what was the end result? What would you have done differently?

Sell Your Skills

While the most important thing is that you can do the job well, it’s important that you can sell them in a presentable, professional package that ties all your positive qualities together.

So make sure you’re dressed smartly. If you’re unsure what to wear, it’s always better to risk dressing too smart than too casual, especially for something like an accountancy firm.

Pay attention to your body language, make sure it’s projecting confidence and openness. People have a tendency to hunch and cross their arms when they’re nervous but this can come across as unconfident or even rude. Similarly, make sure you’re comfortable maintaining eye contact or you’ll look bored or unfocused.

When going in for the handshake, try to make sure it’s not too weak or too firm. Your handshake says a lot about your confidence. Don’t be afraid to practice with friends or family beforehand, as weird as that might sound.

Be Yourself

It might be a cliché but it’s still good to remember to try to be yourself. Though it might be difficult to see how you could possibly be yourself with all the advice of what not to do above, it’s important to try to inject a little personality into your interview.

Part of the purpose of an interview is to see whether you’d be a good fit for the company culture, both for yourself and for them. Try too hard to be someone else and the interviewers will spot it’s an act from a mile off.

Need to brush up on your interview skills? Take a look at the Interviews section of our website, and if you need any further help come and talk to us or book a mock interview.

This article was written by Kara Copple, content writer for The Accountancy Partnership

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How I got my job – Placement year with UCB in Belgium


Biological Sciences student Alisha talks about her decision to do an industrial placement abroad with UCB biopharma, Belgium. She talks about the experience and give some useful advice for students looking to do a placement abroad.

About the placement:

For my year in industry I decided to go to Belgium to work at UCB biopharma in Braine L’alleud (near Brussels). Here I worked in the investigative toxicology department on a project involving drug induced cardiac injury. My activities varied on a day to day basis from undertaking experiments in the lab, to analyzing data and compiling literature reviews in the office. This meant that I got to experience how research projects worked in medium sized pharmaceutical companies such as UCB, and being in a relatively small department meant that I was making a real contribution to the project, which will lead to me having my name on a poster and published article next year. Continue reading

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Is My Career Goal Realistic?


What?” – Veronique Debord-Lazaro

This week, Beth from Inspiring Interns talks about career goals and gives some tips on how to follow through and achieve them.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Children, when asked this question, let their imagination run riot. They want to be an astronaut, a pop star, a mermaid. By the time they’ve grown into undergraduates, they’ve often switched careers but become no less ambitious. Now, they want to be a journalist, a CEO, a TV presenter.

But while small children are encouraged in their dreams, students are often told to take a reality-check. They’re told the industry they’ve chosen is too competitive, the chance of landing their dream job too slim. They’re told they’re aiming too high or over-inflating their talents – ultimately, that their career goals are unrealistic and need to be adapted to an increasingly competitive job market.

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How I got my job – Pladis Graduate Scheme


This week Andrea, a MSc Global Supply Chain graduate tells us about how he got is graduate position at Pladis and gives some detailed advice on the application process.

Hello all,

My name is Andrea Scirè, I am 22 years old and, after having finished my course in September, I graduated in December 2016 from the Leeds University Business School with a 2:1 (68%) MSc in Global Supply Chain Management.

When I left my home town, Rome (Italy), in September 2015, I could never have imagined that, slightly more than a year later, I would be working in the UK as a graduate with pladis (the number one biscuit manufacturer in the UK and Turkey and worldwide, known for iconic brands such as McVitie’s, Godiva and Ulker). But, believe me or not, this is what happened.

In the next few paragraphs, I will explain how the Professional Development Hub of the University of Leeds Business School and the Careers Centre helped me in getting selected from over 200+ candidates applying for this graduate scheme.

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