Knowledge, Intelligence and Personality

Our current phase of graduate recruitment is in full swing.  As a firm we have always looked to recruit consistent numbers of graduate trainees in the hope that they will come through their professional exams successfully and prosper in our organisation. It is true to say that we are never short of applicants and the selection process for interview naturally has a major focus on academics, as you would expect. Once at the interview, however, it is an individual’s personality and communication skills that we are looking to shine through – and often perfect candidates on paper fail to deliver on the key “human” aspects of the application process.

Accountancy is certainly a profession which will soon highlight academic weakness. But it is also a profession which rewards those who can strike the right balance between technical ability and people skills. Understanding the nuances of the latest accounting standard or the 2014 Finance Act is one thing – but, in my experience, the real skill lies in breaking through the jargon and being able to explain what this means to clients outside of the profession, running their own business, who (perhaps rightly) aren’t nearly as interested in the technical detail as we are.

I have two young children who are growing up quickly.  Before long we will be looking at secondary school options, including whether to tutor them through the dreaded 11 Plus exam.  Certainly things have changed a lot since I did the 11 Plus and thereafter GCSEs and A-levels. The focus on academic performance seems huge now.  I do believe that academic standards are rising through better teaching standards and technology – it would be worrying if they were not.  However, in my opinion, students also need to remember that in order to forge a successful career in any field, their academic ability has to be complemented by soft skills.  Even in the technological age that we live in, business deals are rarely struck entirely from behind the screen of a laptop or ipad.  Thankfully it is still the case that face to face and verbal contact remain vital.  Consider something that you bought recently – whether it’s a car, TV or new accountancy service… besides the quality of the product itself, the chances are it was personal contact or communication that tipped the balance somewhere along the line.  Business still works that way – and the best students do take note…

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