UK Interviews and Excel Tests


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Hey guys. I'm a part-qualified accountant who's working in practice at the moment, I'm looking for a new role to work in the industry. I've never been the greatest at interviews, but over time, experience and better preparation; more often than not I don't have any trouble with all the popular competency based questions we typically get asked, and my feedback is generally quite positive.

Sadly, I can't say the same for these Excel tests. About half of my interviews now involve excel tests, which are normally custom made by the Finance Manager. These vary greatly, some ask to format data and produce a pivot table, or re-organise data to create a report.

My day to day work on Excel is quite basic, the most complex tasks I get involved with simply involve VLookups or producing pivot tables. I don't have to deal with massive amounts of data to reorganise, analyse and produce reports, which many of these excel tests require.

The worst thing about these tests is, as you'd expect I have to do them first, and when I've done so poor, it just makes me feel deflated for the interview and I just feel like walking out! My latest interview, I hardly got past 25% of the test and most likely I won't be short-listed. I will ask them if I can have a copy of the test to practice for the future, but most likely they won't, as it will be a generic test they use all the time, and they won't want to risk having it spread around online. I can't seem to find any of these type of tests online, and most Excel guides don't provide examples to work on.

Does anyone have any advice on how I can better prepare myself to tackle such tests in the future?
 
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The best way to learn Excel is to use Excel. I would develop Excel spread sheets for my own use that use the features that I am going to be tested on. I might also develop an Excel spread sheet that represents the accounting of an imaginary company.

Please note that I live in the US, not the UK, so things maybe significantly different in the UK.

Bob
 
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Youtube has a lot of courses for Excel. If you google Excel Training many of the training sites have great free content as well as webinars on youtube. You can get into some pretty advanced stuff.
 
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I'm just about the opposite to yourself, Uzair_y... I'm not quite part-qualified, yet my Excel skills are rather strong. I learnt mostly by doing spreadsheets at home, and for work. I absolutely love Excel, and when I'm working on a spreadsheet, my curiosity makes me wonder "can I find a way to do such-and-such to make it even more user-friendly?", so I google how to do it, then I learn it. It's been one skill at a time. I love to work on my own spreadsheets at home as therapy... I'm an Excel geek!

If you feel you may not have the Excel skills required for testing in interviews, my opinion is you could be upfront about it in the interview. Let your potential future employer know that Excel is not your strongest point, emphasise your strengths in other areas, and assure them you learn new skills quickly and are willing to advance your Excel level however necessary for the role.

By the same token, I understand how some employers want you to hit the ground running, and in those cases, it's probably not a good match for you anyway. But if you bring attention to those non-Excel skills you could bring to the new employer, I hope the right employer will hire you and be willing to train you more on Excel as they see fit.

Good luck.
 

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