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Top 7 Accounting Skills to Look For in Clerks and Bookkeepers


Accountants and bookkeepers are integral to business success, performing essential functions and responsibilities regarding an organization’s finances and legal obligations. They monitor your revenues and expenses, ensure statutory compliance, and provide financial data for crucial business decisions. 

Since the role requires specific knowledge and experience, hiring accountant clerks with the hard and soft skills the job demands are best for your company. This blog post will discuss must-have accountant skills for hiring a new clerk or bookkeeper.

What Makes a Good Accountant?

A good accountant, according to EmployTest CEO Ken Crowell, is more than just spreadsheets, financial reports, and tax tables. “They must have a keen eye for detail, verifying that every record is accurate and compliant. They must also have strong analytical and problem-solving skills to navigate complex financial landscapes while providing strategic guidance,” he explains. 

Those hard skills are not enough, though. “Good accountants must communicate well, both to external and internal customers. While conscientiousness may not be the typical trait for accounting staff, it’s important to make the team run well,” Ken adds.

7 Must-Have Accounting Skills

Accountants and bookkeepers must possess specific accounting skills to excel and perform their jobs efficiently. The top skills needed for accounting include hard and soft skills.

Hard Skills Needed for Accounting

1. Knowledge of GAAP

Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) are standard accounting practices, guidelines, and procedures accountants follow to prepare and present financial statements for external reporting. The primary purpose of GAAP is to ensure that everything about your company’s financial reports is accurate and complete. 

An accountant well-versed in GAAP applies its principles to create financial statements that align with the established guidelines. 

Additionally, some regulatory bodies require publicly traded organizations to be GAAP compliant, so having an accountant who understands these rules is key in fulfilling legal and financial obligations. 

2. Knowledge of basic business practices

A good accountant shouldn’t only be an expert in their field. They must also have a comprehensive insight into other critical areas of your business. Since most accountants interact with different departments, understanding business practices allows them to gain a broader context for all financial transactions. 

An accountant who understands the fundamental concepts of business operations, such as revenue generation, cost management, and profit margins, can provide more insightful financial analysis and advice that fuels business growth. 

3. Financial reporting and analysis

Accountants can create and analyze financial statements. These financial records are crucial, as they reflect your company’s business activities and financial stability. 


When hiring an accounting clerk, assess their proficiency in creating income and cash flow statements and their effectiveness in developing a balanced sheet. The goal is to use these statements to gain comprehensive knowledge regarding your company’s financial health, helping you make better decisions that benefit your organization. 

4. Accounting software proficiency

Accountants must also know how to quickly use established and upcoming accounting software systems to keep up with the changing times. As the accounting world has digitized, tax preparation, compliance, and enterprise resource planning software have become “must-haves” for efficient work.

Soft Skills Needed for Accounting

5. Deductive reasoning and problem solving

These skills allow accountants to perform precise calculations and interpret numbers. Your accountants can apply deductive reasoning to logically analyze data to provide useful insights to help decision-making. Meanwhile, accountants use analytical and problem-solving skills to identify patterns, which help support accuracy in financial reporting and compliance. 

6. Strong written and oral communication skills

Excellent communication skills are essential for accountants to relay financial information to various stakeholders. Strong written communication skills enable them to organize clear and concise financial reports, memos, and emails. 


Good oral communication skills allow accountants to clearly and effectively present complex financial findings to clients, colleagues, and management in a way that is easy to understand. Effective communication ensures that financial information is clear, so you can make the right decisions. 

7. Organization and attention to detail

Accountants deal with large volumes of financial data daily, making it essential to maintain organized records. Having a keen eye for detail enables your accountant to effectively manage multiple tasks, meet deadlines, and handle financial information with minimal errors.

As for attention to detail, this ability means accountants review and verify financial data, identify errors or discrepancies, and maintain financial records’ integrity. Accountants with a meticulous eye help minimize mistakes that can have significant consequences for your business.

Identifying a Top Quality Accountant Candidate

The accounting field can be demanding as it involves important financial information. One seemingly minor mistake can create problems and impact your company’s reputation

For that reason, hiring only the most qualified and skilled candidates should be a priority. Fortunately, EmployTest’s accounting skills tests can help you identify the best candidate for the role. 

Since 2006, we at EmployTest have worked with over 6,000 companies to administer pre-employment assessment tests. We help clients determine the appropriate test(s) when hiring for specific skills or competencies. 

Try a free sample test today!