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Accountant personality test gives recruiters the edge


A New Zealand company has developed a test for prospective accountants that can identify whether they are “backroom number-crunchers or strategic business advisers”.

By Philip King 12 minute read

Accountancy firms will be able to sharpen their recruitment processes with a world-first personality test developed by Accountests, a management consultant based in Napier, New Zealand.

The firm said its study of 300 accountants in New Zealand, the UK, the US and Australia forms the basis for its Personality Profile Questionnaire (APPQ), which helps identify whether a candidate is a good fit.

Accountest, which specialises in skills and personality testing for the accountancy profession globally, said APPQ goes beyond a candidate’s technical expertise to an understanding of their personality.


“Today’s accountant needs to offer vision and creative thinking and a much broader repertoire of skill rather than just maintaining accounts and finances,” said Accountests director Steve Evans.

He said the accountant personality profiler would be a boon for accounting and bookkeeping firms as they grappled with a shortage of talented candidates and the “great resignation”.

The most recent Microsoft 2021 Work Trend Index reported 41 per cent of the workers globally are considering leaving their current employers within a year, and 49 per cent plan a major career change. 

Accounting firm turnover has been high for a number of years, with upwards of 20 per cent of talent lost every year for most firms.

The 20-minute APPQ questionnaire uses data captured from 300 accountants who participated in a pilot study.

It is designed to tackle accounting-specific challenges including maintaining ethics, building relationships, adding value and coping with the stresses and strains of changing accounting roles and client expectations.

A report with interview questions and a professional development plan is generated within five minutes of completion.

Sue de Bievre, founder of a new-age accountancy firm Beany, said APPQ had helped select new staff and understand how a team worked together.

“Traditionally we would hire accountants based on their tested technical competence, without considering how they would fit into a team based on their personal profile,” she said.

“We’ve put our entire team through the APPQ process and it’s fascinating at the individual level – and super helpful at the management level to see how the team fits together overall. 

“We can see where were strong and also what we need to look for in recruitment to fill in some gaps in overall team profile. It also works well for the team to see everyones natural style and strengths – we can then adapt to that.”

Mr Evans said accountancy roles had changed over the past decade following the introduction of cloud-based software.

“Today’s accountant needs to offer vision and creative thinking and a much broader repertoire of skills,” he said.

Accountest spent a year in research and development involving trusted psychometric testing partners to build the personality questionnaire.

APPQ builds on a landmark study by Associated Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) in 2016 of the behaviours and skills accountants need to possess.

Accountests director Giles Pearson has first-hand experience of employing accountants who are great with numbers but struggle with the broader business role that has become part of the profession.

“As a partner in a large accounting firm I quickly realised the importance of knowing whether new staff were likely to be best focused towards business development or client delivery, and making sure teams had a mixture of complementary working styles,” he said. 

“Getting this right is crucial, and this test provides all the information to those hiring accountants to make confident decisions.”   

Accountest has developed country-specific APPQ tests for Australia, the UK, New Zealand and the US.

Philip King

Philip King


Philip King is editor of Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, the leading sources of news, insight, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.

Philip joined the titles in March 2022 and brings extensive experience from a variety of roles at The Australian national broadsheet daily, most recently as motoring editor. His background also takes in spells on diverse consumer and trade magazines.

You can email Philip on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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