Talking transferable skills: Research and analysis
As an accountant, you will be required to make best-practice recommendations to the management and clients on how to reduce costs and risks, enhance revenues and improve profits. To do this, first you will need to research and make sense of complex business and financial information.
This is why your ability to gather and interpret data is so important, as are your abilities to identify, analyse and solve problems (these are necessary to understand the ‘why’ behind the data), and to evaluate results.
In the process, you will also need to employ your critical thinking abilities – accountants must be able to approach tasks logically: evaluate information, understand its implications, arrive at conclusions and develop workable solutions.
You will have used these skills many times during your studies and training. Think of a research project or paper and detail the steps you took to complete it. How did you access the information, what were the sources and how did you assess their reliability? What were some of the issues you encountered – for example, did you identify a problem that called for more research or for a different approach? How did you arrive at a solution and, if you had a choice of different solutions, what factors did you consider when choosing the best option?
The interviewer will want you to describe the research process as well as the ‘route’ you took (with all the obstacles, twists and turns along the way) before arriving at a logical and balanced conclusion.
To show off your critical thinking skills, you can also think of any time during your extra-curricular activities when you met with a complex problem and describe how you came up with a solution that satisfied all those involved.
Iwona Tokc-Wilde, journalist
This article was first published in Student Accountant
Read another 'Talking transferable skills' article on Interpersonal skills