On Tuesday, April 14th, we’ll be releasing the new Accounting 50, our annual ranking of the best accounting firms to work for. This year, the rankings are based on a survey of more than 10,000 accounting professionals. This past winter, these professionals were asked to rate their firms in a variety of quality of life areas, including benefits, culture, diversity, compensation, hours, overall satisfaction, training, and work/life balance. They were also asked to rate their peer firms in terms of prestige.
In addition to quantitative feedback, we asked accounting professionals for qualitative feedback—comments about what it’s like to work for their firms and what it’s like to get hired at their firms. With respect to the getting hired part, one of the things we asked accountants to tell us was which questions are typically asked in interviews. And below, culled from these survey comments, are 19 behavioral questions ("Tell me about a time ..." questions) that Big 4 accounting professionals who took our survey told us their firms commonly ask.
A final note before jumping to the questions: In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, many top accounting firms are still continuing with their recruiting efforts—albeit at a slower pace and via virtual events and interviews, not face-to-face. Which means if you want to work for a Big 4 accounting firm (Deloitte, EY, KPMG, or PwC), you’ll likely have to prepare solid answers to the below questions, then pass along those answers in a virtual interview (via Zoom, Skype, or other video conferencing app).
1. Tell me about a time when you displayed your leadership skills.
2. Tell me about a time you mentored someone.
3. Tell me about a time you were questioned about your work in a group project setting and how you handled it.
4. Tell me about a time when you worked with a group and someone wasn't doing their fair share and how you resolved the situation.
5. Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision between what was right and what was easy.
6. Tell me about a time you solicited feedback from those around you and applied it to your performance.
7. Tell me about a time you faced an ethical challenge and how you resolved it.
8. Tell me about a time when you were forced to deal with two competing priorities.
9. Tell me about a time when you were managing or part of a project team—what skills and knowledge did you employ to successfully deliver on your project objective?
10. Tell me about how you managed a mistake you made.
11. Tell me about a time you addressed someone who was acting disrespectful or offensive.
12. Tell me about a confrontational client situation and what you did to improve the situation.
13. Tell me about a time you used emerging technologies to solve a need or problem.
14. Tell me about a time you had to learn a new technology tool in order to accomplish a task or project.
15. Tell me about a time when you worked with a colleague with a conflicting point of view.
16. Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult person.
17. Tell me about a time you brought a new idea to work and what the outcome was.
18. Tell me about a time you had to stand up to leadership and explain why something should be done another way.
19. Tell me about a time when you were assigned a complex task and how you were able to bring it to a conclusion.
Video interviewing is rapidly becoming the norm for corporate recruiting departments, as HR departments seek cost effective ways of interviewing higher volumes of available candidates. Being able to communicate your value to an employer via one-way video (where you video your answers to questions companies provide) or in a Skype/Zoom conversation is paramount.
There is one question you can always expect during your legal job interview: Do you have any questions for us? Preparing thoughtful, well-researched questions for this part of your interview is a great way to show your interest in the legal employer and that you have done your homework.