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Interview presentation

Bookworm55Bookworm55 Trusted RegularRegistered Posts: 479
I have an interview with a mid-tier firm of accountants next week for an ACA training position. They have asked me to prepare a 10-15 minute presentation on the following topic:

What qualities do you believe you have that will make you effective in a role as a Chartered Accountant? How would you demonstrate these qualities?

I'm not really sure how to go about addressing it. How would you approach the presentation?

Naturally you don't know what my qualities are, but I'm guessing that other people working in accounts have an amount of similarity, so there's a fair chance I would also have some of the qualities that you feel make you an effective accountant! So equally it's what qualities would you want from a new trainee at your firm, so I can highlight those (If I feel I also have and can demonstrate them)?

Some thoughts:
  • I have already worked in an accounts environment (albeit commercial company not accounting practice)- representing both general officey and accounts assistantish experience
  • I am a member of the AAT- representing acquired practical knowledge and that I have already balanced work with study
  • I will shortly (five weeks to the day from the interview) graduate in accounting and finance- representing acquired theoretical knowledge and the intellectual capacity to complete all the professional exams
  • My commitment to accounting is demonstrated by the three points above (and the last five years working/studying in it)
  • I have earned credit for the following ICAEW exams by virtue of my degree:
    Assurance, Business and Finance, Law, Management Information
    and the following by virtue of my AAT:
    Accounting, Business and Finance, Management Information, Principles of Taxation
    These will ensure a smooth progression to full chartered status

Comments

  • I think you have just answered your own question.
  • Bookworm55Bookworm55 Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 479
    It's a respectable starting point, true. But I wanted to ask the assorted members of the forum if they had any ideas for things they would be sure to include/avoid if doing this for themselves.
  • blobbyhblobbyh Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,415
    Don Juan wrote: »
    I think you have just answered your own question.

    Nope, that's not really addressing either of the questions; "What qualities do you believe you have that will make you effective in a role as a Chartered Accountant? How would you demonstrate these qualities?"

    The questions are specifically asking for your qualities not your qualifications. Merely reprising your CV could show your misunderstanding of the question. They already know your CV, now they're asking you about you. They know you have the foundations for being an ACA accountant but they're looking for your application of that knowledge and ultimately, how you can become a fee earner for them.

    Focus on your personal strengths and how you could contribute to joining their team. What will you offer them as a profit making organisation? Maybe you could even acknowledge your weaknesses as long as you can limit or learn from them. Show foresight and strength but also a little humility. No-one's perfect.

    Your qualifications show learned knowledge but how can you apply it? Give examples of decision making from your past working experience and where you've had to maybe assume control of risky situations. How can you manage people? Do people listen to you? Can you speak and present to management? What are your future goals beyond ACA status, maybe ten, twenty years time?

    The important thing is to speak about you and what you can offer, not simply focus on what you've achieved. Don't forget good accountants not only speak about the past but also advise for the present and future. Use all tenses in your presentation.

    Good luck!
  • It's just best to be yourself. If you make things up or exaggerate then they will see through it. Just explain what you have given us in more detail and don't rely on what others are telling you because you will only forget it when it comes the time due to it not being your own words and thoughts.

    What qualities do you believe you have that will make you effective in a role as a Chartered Accountant? How would you demonstrate these qualities? Only you can answer that.
  • Bookworm55Bookworm55 Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 479
    What qualities do you believe... Only you can answer that.

    Alright, fine. Let me slightly rephrase the question:

    What qualities do you believe you have a person should have that will make you them effective in a role as a Chartered Accountant? How would you they demonstrate these qualities?
    It's just best to be yourself. If you make things up or exaggerate then they will see through it.

    I certainly wasn't suggesting making things up. But it is a matter of emphases. I have ten to fifteen minutes to talk; that it all. There are questions of trying to cram too much in, of including irrelevant material or missing out something important.
    The important thing is to speak about you and what you can offer, not simply focus on what you've achieved. Don't forget good accountants not only speak about the past but also advise for the present and future. Use all tenses in your presentation.

    That's a good point. So that if I talk about my aptitude for x, I shoudl include thigs in my past that demonstrate it and how it would be applied to the future.

    "I have done Z" is fundamentally a different answer from "I am good at X, which is shown by my achievement of Z, and will make it easier for me to go on to do Y".
    What are your future goals beyond ACA status, maybe ten, twenty years time?

    Well that rather depends on whether or not I like it! But seriously, making partner in ten years is probably a little too ambitious, but I'd like to be well on the way. I do know that many of their partners have been with the firm since attaining their ACA status.
    Give examples of decision making from your past working experience and where you've had to maybe assume control of risky situations. How can you manage people? Do people listen to you? Can you speak and present to management?

    Not really, my last employer was pretty anti me doing anything more than number crunching. One of the main reasons for me leaving was that there was no room for advancement within the company; they even had me doing less advanced work as time went on (because they took over another company, made their purchase ledger department redundant and gave me all their work to do).
    Maybe you could even acknowledge your weaknesses as long as you can limit or learn from them.

    I don't know about you, but I've always felt "my greatest weakness is that I work too hard/am a perfectionist" is a really trite answer. Even if you truly mean it; that you find it hard to leave a piece of work as complete and move on when actually it's already good enough, it comes across poorly.

    One of the oddest is that "I haven't worked in an accounting practice before", which is true, but neither will the majority of other applicants. I don't speak any foreign languages? Again true, but this is an East Anglian practice with few international clients. However, I can't speak 'Norfolk' very well.
  • blobbyhblobbyh Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,415
    Not working in an accounting practice shouldn't necessarily be a weakness but a strength. I can't imagine practices doing accounts for other practices but rather for small retailers, manufacturers, sole traders etc... Working in any of these sectors might give you an empathy that other applicants might lack.

    One of the things I was hinting at was to look for what you might think are holes in your experience and turn them into positives then sell these to your potential employers.

    The not being able to leave a piece of already completed work alone could be a problem and you would need to learn to let go once you've nailed it. Once the product has satisfactorily completed and the fee earned, why waste extra time and effort for no reward to yourself or employer? Many of us suffer from this temptation but at some point you have to acknowledge whether the extra effort is beneficial or just obsessive.

    As for the rest of it, you're starting to get the idea with the x,y,z scenario!
  • PGMPGM Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,954
    You obviously tick all the right boxes regarding accountancy knowledge. I think they'll want to know you're ability to apply it, you're business knowledge and how you present yourself. If they like you and you come accross well, that'll be the key thing!
  • JodieRJodieR Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 1,002
    According to this website www.he.courses-careers.com/charteraccount.htm, the qualities you need to become a chartered accountant are the following:-

    A good communicator
    A high academic achiever
    A good team player
    Comfortable with numbers
    Able to manage others effectively
    Analytical
    Self-motivated

    I would devote a few minutes to each point, giving specific examples of instances which demonstrate that you are all these things. Try draw on as many aspects of your life as possible, eg study, work, hobbies and even family/social life.

    Good Luck!
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