Read our tips on how to find the perfect Assistant Accountant for your team

  • 03-06-24
  • Marc Dalusag

In any business, the accounting department is often viewed as the backbone of the company, but who is the backbone of the finance team?

Often overlooked but undeniably essential, the Assistant Accountant handles a whole host of duties relying on their time-management, communication, and attention-to-detail skills. They are vital in providing accurate financial data up to their managers.

Throughout this blog we will explore what an Assistant Accountant role looks like, why your company needs to have one, and the key skills to keep an eye out for when you are hiring.

What is an Assistant Accountant?

An Assistant Accountant job description is multi-dimensional. They are the quiet achievers who are relied upon for maintaining the financial records and feeding transactional data through to the general ledger and balance sheet.  They provide an extra set of hands and eyes to the senior members of the accounting team.

Depending on the size of your team and business, the Assistant Accountant role can be divided into seven main areas:

  1. Data Entry / Record-Keeping: Accurately inputting financial data to the software and spreadsheets, and updating ledgers and journals
  2. Payables and Receivables: Managing invoices, payments and receipts.
  3. Reconciliations: matching bank statements, intercompany transactions, balance sheets and ledgers
  4. Assisting with Financial Reporting: Working with Senior Accountants on financial statements and other reports
  5. Tax Compliance: Assisting with preparing tax returns and compliance
  6. Auditing Support: Gathering financial information for external and internal auditors
  7. Financial Analysis: Helping to identify trends, discrepancies and anomalies in data

Why do you need an Assistant Accountant?

Assistant Accountants are a staple within many well-oiled accounting teams providing a link between transactional data and the financial reporting. More often than not, they are at the beginning of their accounting careers, eager to develop and learn from those around them.

Some do question why they need an Assistant Accountant when there are qualified accountants and various software available to them? Here’s why:

  • Workload Management: They can help to distribute the workload within the finance team, allowing qualified accountants to focus on more complex tasks
  • Accuracy and Compliance: They are critical in maintaining financial records and compliance to regulations and tax laws
  • Financial Insights: They can provide valuable data insights from handling it close-up, helping with ad-hoc analysis to make informed financial decisions
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Rather than relying on a qualified accountant or expensive accounting software, the yearly salary for a degree qualified or part-qualified Assistant Accountant has remained relatively stable
  • Longevity: They are usually taking their first leap into their careers, investing time and support into an Assistant Accountant could lead to a longer tenure within the business and familiarity with the team and processes. They are a great option for progression in your team as you know they are a good culture fit and you get to retain their knowledge as they develop.

Skills to look out for in an Assistant Accountant

Now with a good understanding of the importance of an Assistant Accountant’s role, we can delve into what the most important skills and attributes to look for when hiring the perfect candidates:

Attention to Detail – Financial records are at the core of any functioning accounting team’s success; they must have a meticulous eye for detail to ensure these records are up-to-date and error-free.

Organisational Skills / Time Management – With varying tasks and competing deadlines, they must have the ability to not only manage but prioritise tasks, especially during month-end and year-end periods.

Analytical Skills – Whilst they do not need to be working across complex analysis, having an analytical mind-set is crucial in allowing them to identify discrepancies and trends in data for the team.

Communication Skills – This is a highly interactive role, dealing with colleagues, clients, and auditors. Effective communication and confidence in their communication is key.

Knowledge of Accounting Principles – Usually garnered through their studies (Degree or Professional Qualification), a strong foundation in accounting principles, credits vs debits, and regulations is essential for feeding into their financial reporting duties.

Technology Proficiency – They may not have used your specific software previously if they are towards the beginning of their career, however Excel proficiency and learning agility around software tools is a must.

How to assess these skills during the Assistant Accountant hiring process

When interviewing potential Assistant Accountants people tend to stick to “tell me about your experience to date” as a leading question – which is a good way to discover what they have done up to this point. But as junior candidates are not as experienced in interviewing, it can be much more effective to structure your interview questions to get the best possible answers from them. The following example interview questions can aid you in assessing their skillset on a deeper level:

  • “How do you prioritise tasks when you have multiple deadlines to meet?”
  • “Can you provide an example of a time when your attention-to-detail prevented a financial discrepancy or error?”
  • “Can you share an experience where you had to manage a tight deadline? How did you ensure everything was completed on time?”
  • “Tell me about a time you had to communicate financial information to a non-finance team member or client? How did you approach it?”
  • “How do you utilise Excel in your daily tasks?”

By asking a range of situational, behavioural and competency-based questions (more examples here), you can further understand a candidate’s suitability for your Assistant Accountant role, and identify the perfect fit for your accounting team. 


An Assistant Accountant is an invaluable asset to any organisation’s finance team and can play a huge role in its stability and growth. By further understanding the role, recognising its importance and identifying the right skills you need for the role, you can build a well-rounded accounting team who are vital in your company’s success.

For help in recruiting your next Assistant Accountant for your team, contact us at 02 8324 5640 or by email here.