Other Skills to Look For in Your Excel Expert

Vicki Mann

Posted 04/01/2023
by Vicki Mann

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Other Skills to Look For in Your Excel Expert

In today's world, almost every business relies on some form of spreadsheets and data management to function. Microsoft Excel is at the centre of this practice, offering endless possibilities for organising complex information. 

To take full advantage of these powerful features, it’s essential to hire people who understand the intricacies of Excel and can use it as a tool to maximise efficiency in your daily workflow.

Investing in an experienced professional with strong Excel skills can save you time, effort, and money – not to mention prevent headaches down the road – so it pays off to have a clear idea of what skills you should look for when carrying out an assessment of an Excel expert. 

We're going to take a look at some more advanced excel skills that you should be looking to assess when trying to hire your next expert.

Pivot table

A pivot table is a powerful skill that helps users more quickly and accurately analyse data stored in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. By using pivot table tools, users are able to identify meaningful trends as they relate to their own datasets, allowing them to better understand their data and draw meaningful conclusions from it. For example, if someone has a large dataset containing different customer demographic details like age, gender and profession, pivot tables could help them easily summarise the data according to those variables so that they can gain insight into customer behaviour or patterns in sales. In other words, pivot tables allow users an easy way to quickly sort through, organise and generate meaningful reports from their data without needing additional software tools.


When looking to hire your next excel expert, few things demonstrate their excel skills better than experience with macro commands. Macro commands allow users to perform complex formulas with a simple click of a button – essentially they create shortcuts to complicated commands. Essentially macros can automate both simple and more complex tasks within a spreadsheet.

Visual basics for applications, also known as VBAs, go hand in hand with macros. VBA macros allow experts to create visuals from the spreadsheets including graphs and charts which can help to present data and information in a more engaging way. VBA macros are key to having efficient and effective excel spreadsheets.


If you're someone who spends a considerable amount of time on Excel, VLOOKUP skills are essential. When you're dealing with a lot of data and large spreadsheets, it becomes very impractical to scroll up and down looking for information. 

VLOOKUP simply stands for vertical lookup, allowing for users to quickly search for any data within a single column that is selected. It allows users to quickly locate any information from names, numbers or anything in between.


For those with more advanced expertise with excel, they will also probably frequently use the XLOOKUP function. This function performs a similar role to VLOOKUP, however it is a more modern and advanced tool that has become essential for excel experts to know. With XLOOKUP, users can find data from an array of cells and columns meaning it can search both horizontal and vertical whereas previous tools can only do one or the other.

As well as this, XLOOKUP can locate the exact match or the closest thing to it. Whilst this function is more useful, it certainly does require more expertise and experience with excel to use and should be a part of your hire's excel skills.


Excel is a powerful spreadsheet application used by many to organise and track information. Excel's SUMIF function is an extremely helpful tool to quickly find the sum of values based on specific criteria. It saves time by allowing Excel users to quickly group, sum, and analyse data without having to manually sort and count cells. Excel's SUMIF function works by subtracting all cells from the range that do not match the specified criteria. This allows Excel users to quickly calculate complex sums in a fraction of the time it would take with other methods.


If you’re an excel expert, then you’ll know what COUNTIF is and its application in excel. Put simply, it's a function which allows users to count the number of cells meeting certain criteria within a specified range. COUNTIF can be used for a variety of purposes – for instance, counting the length of text entries in a column or counting the number of times a certain value appears in a dataset. It's especially useful when evaluating large data sets as it can quickly return detailed results at high speeds. Needless to say, understanding how to use excel functions properly is vital when dealing with excel spreadsheets.


Whether you're an expert, intermediate or beginner user of excel you will use a formula for your spreadsheets. Formulas are the foundation of Microsoft Excel and it's what helps to make its spreadsheets so versatile and at times, complex too. However, these formulas will not always work the way you've intended and at times they can return errors. Unfortunately, even the slightest error in your formula can set off a chain reaction and this will happen whether you're a beginner or expert. 

Whilst these error codes are inevitable, there is a counter to them that Microsoft have cleverly created. IFERROR allows an excel expert to quickly catch these error codes and trap them and return another value that you specify. 

Conditional formatting

For the uninitiated, Microsoft Excel may bring a few choice words to mind. Boring, tedious, messy. These are just some that get thrown around, but this really doesn't have to be the case. What if we told you there's a way to brighten up your microsoft excel experience? And we mean this quite literally. Experts can use conditional formatting to colour-code or highlight cells, as well as sorting these cells by condition. 

Conditional formatting has become an essential skill to look for when looking to hire an excel expert as it allows for data on a spreadsheet easier to locate. This can be especially for when analysis of a spreadsheet is necessarily or looking at KPIs for example.

You don't necessarily need to be an expert of Microsoft Expert to be able to do conditional formatting, but what separates an expert from an intermediate user is knowing how to present it well. There are virtually an endless amount of benefits and uses of conditional formatting, making it a very versatile and dynamic function for any spreadsheet in Excel. 

Power pivots

When it comes to advanced excel knowledge, power pivots are right up there. They are complex and hard to learn, so finding a new hire with experience with power pivots is a fantastic choice. Power Pivots are an excel expert’s best friend, allowing them to quickly and easily compile and analyse large amounts of data in meaningful ways.

Developed as an add-in for Microsoft Excel, Power Pivot provides users the ability to create smooth calculations on multiple data sources and varied relationships. This can be a powerful tool when trying to crunch complex data sets or perform long analysis on customer reports as it was created with the goal of making data collection easier than ever before.

With Power Pivot, excel experts are able to access more forms of data than ever before and beyond that, use powerful tools to interpret the findings; such as charts, visuals, graphs or summaries.

Index Match

Index Match is a powerful tool in Microsoft Excel which allows users to locate a particular cell within a specified range of cells or an entire table. Essentially, it helps you to quickly match values and return related data no matter where the referenced information is located, even if your table is unsorted.

It consists of two functions: INDEX and MATCH. INDEX finds a value within a range of cells, while MATCH returns the relative position in which your desired value appears in the list. Together, Index Match can be used to find specific information without the need for lookup tables or complicated formulas.

By using Index Match one can find results quickly and accurately with just two simple steps – firstly locating the desired row through MATCH and then displaying the associated figure or data by calling up its associated column in the INDEX function.

Assess job candidates with a Microsoft Excel test

Testing a new hire's excel skills is essential before deciding to take them on board. You want to make sure that they know exactly what is required of the role and this can be difficult if no one on the team has advanced excel skills. 

Here at Skillsarena we have devised an Excel skills test to help you hire the right person. This assessment involves a simulated version of Microsoft Excel, with each assessment involving 15 different questions, testing them on a variety of different skills to gain a clear understanding of the potential hire's experience. There are three different skills levels including basic, intermediate and advanced and these will each test a variety of different skills depending on the individual's experience and the requirements of the job.

We also offer a range of other skills tests to help you hire the right candidate for the job. Explore our skills tests and find what you need today to take your company to the next level. 

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