Talking transferable skills: Interpersonal skills
A survey by Robert Half International shows that, when presented with candidates who have similar qualifications, 31% of employers choose the person with better interpersonal skills. This is because these skills are a must in increasingly collaborative workplaces.
Accountants need to work well with other accountants, as well as with colleagues in other departments and with stakeholders outside their organisations. This is only possible if they know how to build rapport with people from a variety of backgrounds. It’s easier to form and develop business and workplace relationships when there is a closer connection (a bond, if you like) and understanding between the people involved, especially in testing situations.
Good verbal communication skills and the ability to put yourself in the shoes of others go a long way in building rapport. Try to think of a time when you built rapport with someone in a stressful or challenging situation, and try to share it in an interview.
If you know how to build rapport, you are also likely to score highly on teamwork, the skill that tops employers’ wishlists. This is about the contribution you make to groups as a team player (so not necessarily as a team leader) and the way you relate to, interact with and support others to achieve a common goal.
Have you participated in any team projects, either in class or outside of it? Can you give a prospective employer examples of how, as part of a group, you’ve made decisions and solved problems? What lessons did you learn and what issues did you have to overcome? Demonstrating that you are always willing to help – for example, if someone else is struggling with their part of the group task – will show an employer you understand that teams succeed only if everyone puts in their best effort.
Also think about your key strengths that have helped a team succeed – perhaps you are good at planning? Finally, try to prove that you are flexible and willing to assume roles outside of your comfort zone.
Iwona Tokc-Wilde, journalist
This article was first published in Student Accountant
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