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mist1If you have been successful enough to reach an assessment centre or are currently in the process of making applications, you have probably heard the term ‘commercial awareness’ being thrown around. But what is it exactly and how do you become commercially aware?
What is commercial awareness?
It’s something that recruiters in all sectors are looking for and most will test during interviews and assessment centres. In a nutshell, commercial awareness is the understanding of the business/industry you are applying to and what makes it successful. This includes:

  • The ability to consider factors that influence the success of a business
  • The ability to view situations from a commercial or business perspective
  • Knowledge of the market place, clients, customers and competitors
  • Understanding the business processes, relationships, risks and costs.

How do I become commercially aware?
Part-time jobs and voluntary work can help you develop commercial awareness and both will give you plenty of examples to draw from during the application process. If you don’t have any work experience then the following easy tips could help you ace that interview:
If you have one week:

  1. Check out the employer’s website and make notes on their aims, structure and clients.
  2. Follow them on social media to see what’s trending.
  3. Make sure you are aware of their competitors and think about how they differentiate themselves.
  4. Read the Financial Times and visit websites such as Bloomberg, which contains the latest financial news, including stocks and share prices.

If you have more time:

  1. Set up a Google alert for any firms you are interested in as well as relevant search terms to ensure you receive the most up to date news.
  2. Read professional journals such as The Actuary or Accountancy Age and sign up to their email alerts to get sector updates.
  3. When it comes to TV watching the news is an obvious aid, but entertainment programmes such as Undercover Boss or Dragon’s Den can also help you learn about the issues that businesses face.
  4. Read the employer profiles on Inside Careers to find first-hand information on the company you are applying to, their business aims and structure.

Practice questions
The best way to prepare for anything is to practice. Below are some examples of questions that might come up in your interview, some of which cannot be improvised – so make sure you do your research beforehand!

  • What are our main products/services?
  • What do you see as the main problems facing our industry at this time?
  • What story has interested you most in the business press recently?
  • What differentiates us from our competitors?
  • What is the current Bank of England base rate?
  • How many euros would you get in exchange for £1 today?
  • What is the FTSE 100? Did the FTSE go up or down yesterday?
  • What was our share price this morning?

What next?
Want to find out more about how to develop and demonstrate commercial awareness?  Read this article and follow our six fun ways to become commercially aware.

– Katie

About the Author

  • Name: Accountancy Careers
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