Seven critical accounting skills

These are the most critical skills needed to be an accountant today.


To land your next great accounting job, you obviously need to be a great with numbers. But there are some other skills that potential employers are on the lookout for. If you want them to look your way, being able to demonstrate these five traits will help you succeed in job interviews and, ultimately, in your new role.

Here are seven accounting skills that hiring managers want to see on your resume and during an interview:

A firm grasp of the basics: As an accounting and finance professional, you gauge levels of activity in terms of revenues and expenses. Your input plays an integral role in the success of any business, which is why it is crucial that you comprehend basic principles of business administration and be able to communicate those skills during the interview process.

By nature, successful accounting and finance professionals tend to be both inquisitive and well-informed. Typically, the broader your knowledge base and the more familiar you are with the impact your work has on other areas of the company, the more valuable you will be. Bring up examples of your grasp of the basics (and beyond) in interviews in order to demonstrate your knowledge.

Strong ethics: The best employees possess not only strong professional credentials, but also a genuine sense of loyalty to the organization. Loyal employees respect confidentiality and company resources, and they conduct themselves professionally when representing the company. Typically, loyalty is a sign of solid ethics overall, a quality that can prove invaluable to employers.

Companies seek out ethical employees during the hiring process. Be ready to answer open-ended questions about ethical dilemmas you’ve faced in the past and how you handled those situation. Also, you may be asked if you’ve ever had a colleague who regularly violated policies and, if so, what impact that had on the department. The company is looking to identify potential staffers who are ethical – and have the confidence to back up their stance if necessary. Be prepared to answer these questions when they come up in your next interview.

Structure and flexibility: As you know, the bulk of the work completed by the accounting and finance department on a daily basis is transactional and repetitive. Therefore, it’s crucial that you are comfortable working within structure and strict regulations.

Innovation: There is tremendous value in professionals that display creativity and fresh thinking in devising new ways to generate efficiencies and improve accuracy. The ability to adapt longstanding practices to modern circumstances, or to incorporate technology, allows departments to establish new standards that will benefit the overall company.

Great communication skills: Seasoned accounting and finance professionals can be counted on to explain complex information in laymen’s terms. Do you have examples from your past experiences where you can demonstrated your ability to “translate” numbers into actionable business results and intelligence? Bring up these examples in your next interview.

An eye for detail: Accounting and finance staff willingly shoulder tremendous responsibilities. In order to maintain your role in a top accounting job, you must keep detailed notes and follow up promptly with colleagues to ensure that all needs and expectations are met.

Bring up examples of how you have multitasked effectively in the past. Hiring managers know that professionals who can multitask are highly-valuable – since as the fiscal year progresses your duties can be expanded to include additional areas when needed, and you bring additional skills to the table.

Solid time management skills: Due to pressures imposed by limited resources, multiple internal departments and mounting complexity, successful accounting and finance professionals must be world-class time managers.

While it may appear to the casual observer that the person rushing to complete projects is managing their time well, more often it is the calm and measured employee who is the best time manager. In contrast to their hurried counterparts, these professionals are often close listeners who can size up a situation quickly and determine where their energies will be best spent.

This ability to prioritize well – especially under pressure – is what hiring managers are looking for. They want to see how you will fit on their team. Being on time for an interview and cool under the pressure is a start. Also discuss examples of when you were under deadline but were able to manage the project with success – a hiring manager will be able to start envisioning you on their team.

To put these skills to work, check out our available accounting and finance jobs today. 

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