One of the best things you can do to prepare for an interview is to research the interview questions the Big 4 Accounting Firms most commonly use, and practice them ahead of time. Practicing the questions ahead of time will make you more comfortable and will make you calm, look more professional, and come off as a better candidate.
Rehearsing is a great way to feel more confident. Make sure you actually say your answers out loud as well. Many times we think something sounds good, only to speak it out loud and completely lose confidence. Doing this makes you less nervous for the real thing and helps you hone how fluid your responses sound.
There is a limit to how much you should practice your interview Q&A, however. It is important not to just read off what you memorized because it will show and you will sound like a robot. Instead, have the answer as a base for discussion and have an actual conversation, not a speech. As with any good speaker, tell your story to draw in the listener.
A lot of the interview questions will be behavioral and call on past experiences (ex: tell me about a time you had to overcome difficult team members). One of the best parts of answering the interview questions ahead of time is that it catalogs many of these types of experiences. If they give you a question that you hadn’t directly prepared for, you may still have other relevant experiences that are right at your disposal to talk about.
It is also good to have something “scripted” to fall back on if you lock and freeze up. Having something canned is much better than being awkward and sitting there thinking about (a good) example you can tell them. Sitting there searching for an answer puts a bad taste in the interviewers mouth. Keep them engaged, keep the tempo of the interview moving.
The truth of the matter is the purpose of these interviews are more to see how you can answer the questions, how professional you are, how fluently you can communicate, and really whether you would be enjoyable to work with. If you have an interview spot, you probably have a high GPA (Don’t laugh at this Stavros!) and they already have already screened you for your book smarts.’ These interviews are designed to separate the personable people from the socially inept.
Common Big 4 Accounting Firm Interview Questions (KPMG, Deloitte, E&Y, PwC)
1) Walk me through your resume*
2) Tell me a little about yourself or background*
3) Why KPMG/Deloitte/PwC/E&Y?*
4) Why audit/tax/advisory?*
5) Where do you see your yourself in 5 to 10 years
6) Tell me about a time when you had to be a leader
7) Tell me about a time when you were had to overcome an obstacle to get something done
8) Tell me about a goal you had and how you achieved it
9) Tell me about a time when someone asked you to do something unethical
10) How well do you work do in a team setting
11) Give me an example of a time when you were in a moral dilemma and how you handled it
12) Give me an example of a time when you were working in a team, and a team member wasn’t meeting their responsibilities (and how you handled it)
13) Tell me about a time when you disagreed with someone in your group
14) Tell me about a time when you had to work under pressure with strict deadlines
15) Tell me about a time when you failed or made a mistake and how you handled it
16) What is your biggest weakness/strength
17) What do you like to do for fun
18) What is your greatest achievement (or What are you most proud of)
19) Give me an example of a time when you disagreed with a superior
20) Do you prefer you like to travel?
21) Tell me about a time when you improved a process (or came up with a creative solution)
22) Tell me about a time when you had to prioritize your responsibilities
23) What do you like best about a career in public accounting
24) Are you interviewing with other firms
25) Tell me about a time when you had to handle a difficult or angry customer/client
26) What is the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make at in school/work? How did you arrive at your decision?
27) If your friends could pick 3 words to descibe you, what would they be
28) What city would you prefer to live in?
29) What is your take on (insert current event such the Fed’s Stimulus program, overall economic health ect.)
30) What would you change about your school’s academic program
31) What sets you apart from the rest of the candidates