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  • 100 - 500 employees

5 insider tips to help you get hired at McGrathNicol

Jaymes Carr

Careers Commentator
We asked successful graduates for their insider tips on how to start your career with the award-winning accounting firm, McGrathNicol.

Founded in 2004, McGrathNicol has quickly grown to become an influential accounting firm, which, in 2017, won the AFR Client Choice Award for Best Accounting Firm ($50M—$500M).  Little wonder then that students across the country are clambering to get into McGrathNicol’s graduate program, which promises award-winning professional development, mentoring opportunities, and full support for employees who aim to become chartered accountants. We reached out to several successful applicants and asked them to spill the beans on what got them a job at McGrathNicol—read on to hear their five insider tips.

1. Take advantage of the career-related resources on the McGrathNicol website

Our graduates agree that you should spend some time on the McGrathNicol website, or a trustworthy careers service. If you visit the McGrathNicol graduates page you’ll find useful information such as what to expect as an applicant: an online application, cognitive testing, a video interview, and a face-to-face interview. You can also learn more about the opportunities that will be available to you as a graduate, or read up on the type of student McGrathNicol aims to hire:

The nature of our business means we interact daily with various stakeholders, often in difficult situations where businesses are in financial distress. We, therefore, look for students who have strong communication and interpersonal skills, the ability to build relationships and those who enjoy working in a team-based environment. We are trusted by our clients to deliver high-quality services, so our employees are motivated and conscientious with strong attention to detail and problem-solving capabilities.

2. Do your research

When you visit the McGrathNicol website, take some time to learn more about what the business does and read about its major projects and clients. Almost all of the graduates we spoke to said that the research they completed before their interview gave them an enormous advantage when faced with questions about McGrathNicol’s place in the accounting sector. It’s particularly helpful, one said, to become an expert in two or three case studies, which will show that you’re genuinely curious about the business and what it does.

“The interview was comprised of questions relating to your experience, specifically those listed on your CV, as well as your knowledge of the firm's business and industry it operates in.”

– Graduate, Sydney

“Do some research on the company and come up with some questions tailored to what you are applying for, ideally keeping it as current as you can. This shows the interviewers that you are interested and also informed.”

– Graduate, Melbourne

3. Demonstrate that you’re eager to keep on learning

Students aren’t drawn to McGrathNicol only by its reputation and the promise of an advantageous professional first step: when asked to review different aspects of life at McGrathNicol, graduate employees gave it particularly good marks in the areas of training and continuing professional development.

Following a one-week local orientation, new recruits in the Graduate Development Program spend their second month involved in a national induction course, after which they complete additional training to develop technical and soft skills such as business writing and client management.

McGrathNicol is therefore drawn to students who show an aptitude for, and interest in, continual learning. So, whether you discuss a new skill you’ve only recently acquired, or emphasise your eagerness to develop existing talent, it’s a good idea, say our insiders, to show that you’re excited by the prospect of learning all you can.

“The firm has an extensive training program including a grad program held over three days and a series of follow up training events held interstate.”

– Graduate, Melbourne

“We have a grad camp that goes through the basics, fortnightly check ups with managers to ask any questions plus a variety of other training courses that are run throughout the year.”

– Graduate, Sydney

“Plenty of training is provided, both internally and externally. The CA program is offered to employees and subsidised by the company.”

– Graduate, Melbourne

4. Be prepared to show how you’ll fit into the culture at McGrathNicol

The graduates we surveyed gave the culture at McGrathNicol an impressive score of 9.2 out of ten. One praised the company for maintaining “a staff size [that] is small enough to get to know everyone but large enough that there is always something going on”. Another added that “the social aspect of the firm is very good with many events being held to encourage relationship building. The partners and senior staff are always very approachable and friendly.”

Of course, the culture of a business is determined largely by the people it employs. As such, it comes as no surprise that McGrathNicol prioritises hiring candidates who will fit within its culture and uphold its values: integrity, working together, respect, independence, excellence, and social responsibility. Using the STAR method, it’s a good idea to come up with some examples of times when you have demonstrated these values. This will stand you in good stead during your interview.   

“The culture at McGrathNicol is one that is both hard-working and supportive. It is a positive environment where you can develop close relationships with your colleagues both professionally and socially. An open door policy is well implemented where you can have access to more senior staff and gain exposure to the entire firm.”

– Graduate, Sydney

“Highly focused during work hours. Reasonable social scene after hours.”

– Midlevel, Canberra

“I have plans to meet up with a client for coffee later in the afternoon so I will have a quick lunch in the office kitchen. Most people who aren’t out to lunch plan to eat around this time so we can complete the newspaper’s quiz page and then turn on Foxtel as we eat.”

Stuart Ball

5. Emphasise the soft skills that will be most relevant to your role

Two people with identical academic and professional backgrounds apply for the same job, but only one of them gets it: what makes the difference (if not some sort of structural disadvantage)? The clever bet would be that one of our hypothetical candidates had more highly developed soft skills, which might relate to communication, leadership, creativity, problem-solving, time management, and so on.

Of course, not all soft skills will be equally useful for the role you’d like to enter: persuasion, for example, maybe far more useful to a client-facing graduate than, say, an in-house accountant. The graduates we spoke to referred to a range of soft skills: you should aim to find out which are most relevant to your target job, and then make sure to emphasise them, preferably using examples from your experience. Below, Charlotte Woodhams highlights the importance, for her, of time management and discretion.  

“I had to get used to the fact my to-do list never ends when I started working here. The urgency and priority of tasks constantly changes in Insolvency, which is a unique aspect of what we do and I wouldn’t have it any other way – it keeps things exciting!”

Charlotte Woodhams

“On the way we ask each other a couple of questions to clarify some last minute information but we have to be very careful what we say in public due to the sensitive nature of our work.”

– Charlotte Woodhams

Hear more from McGrathNicol graduates on Prosple Australia’s website.