42 Big Four Interview Questions

Published: Mar 21, 2016

 Finance       Interviewing       Job Search       
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This year, in our annual accounting survey, Vault surveyed more than 9,000 accountants. The survey, administered this past winter, asked accountants to tell us what it's like to work for their firms. It also asked them to tell us about their hiring process and, specifically, about the questions they were asked during their interviews.

To that end, below you'll find more than three dozen of the more interesting and challenging interview questions that, this year, accountants at Big Four firms (Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and PwC) told us they received during the course of their interviews. It's our hope that these will help you when you're preparing for your own Big Four interview. 

1. Give me an example of a time when you missed a deadline. How did you handle it? 

2. Give me an example of a time you received constructive feedback. How did you react? 

3. Give me an example of a time when you clashed with management. 

4. Tell me about a time you had to deliver sensitive news and how you handled it. 

5. Tell me about a time when you help resolved a conflict between two people. What was the conflict and what strategies for resolution did you use? 

6. How have you demonstrated commitment to your community? 

7. Tell me about a time when you were on a team and the team's performance was coming up short of your expectations. What were your strategies for improving the team's performance? How did your team members respond? Were you successful? 

8. Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond for a client. 

9. Tell me about a time when you had to teach a skill to someone else who was having a hard time picking it up. What initial challenges did he or she have? How did your approach to teaching the skill adjust? 

10. What are your expectations for busy season? How will you personally advocate for your own interests? 

11. Tell me about a time when you struggled with multiple deadlines and how you effectively managed the situation. 

12. Tell me about a time where you had to think outside the box. 

13. Why did you pick our firm over the other Big Four accounting firms and regional firms? 

14. What's a service area where our firm could create greater capabilities than we have now? How would you go about building those capabilities? 

15. Please provide an example of when you took on a leadership role (at school or work or in an extracurricular activity) and it didn't turn out so well.  

16. Please provide an example of when you didn't think you were up for a challenge and you were really proud of how it turned out. How did you overcome the hurdles/obstacles? 

17. How do you handle stress? Give me an example of a stressful situation and how you resolved it. 

18. Tell me about what you like to do in your free time. 

19. What is your preferred working style: individual research or collaborative? 

20. Give an example of something in your professional career where you were instrumental to the success of the project. 

21. What are some of the goals you hope to accomplish here? 

22. Why do you believe you fit into our firm's culture? 

23. What techniques have worked well for you in creating a high-performing team? 

24. Do you find yourself trying to lead teams or following someone else's lead? 

25. What experiences do you have that would benefit our firm? 

26. Tell me about a time at work or school when someone asked for your input on the best way to approach a problem. 

27. Tell me about a time at work when you actively sought out an opportunity to learn about other cultures or global issues. 

28. What was the worst or hardest customer service experience you've dealt with? 

29. What do you believe our firm can offer you that other firms can't? 

30. Share with me a time when you realized you needed to change your communication style to fit the audience. 

31 Tell me about a time when you had to learn new technology to complete a project for school or a job. 

32. How have you been a leader on your campus? 

33. How can our firm make you a better person? 

34. How do you keep up to date with what's happening in the accounting world? Can you give an example of something that's happening/changing right now? 

35. What's your favorite accounting topic? 

36. Tell me about a situation where you had to adjust quickly to a significant change at school or work. How did the change affect you? What did you do? 

37. Tell me about a time when you were faced with an impossible deadline. What did you do? What was the outcome? 

38. Tell me about a time when you had to conduct research or learn a new skill in order to perform a task. How did you go about it? How did you perform?  

39. What's something you struggled with in school? 

40. What do you think is the most difficult part on a rotation program to a foreign country: language, culture difference, or something else? 

41. What type of news/TV/media do you follow? What do you try to get from it? 

42. How do you handle criticism? 

Note: This year we'll be releasing all the results of our annual accounting survey, including our latest Vault Accounting 50 and Accounting Prestige Rankings, on Thursday, April 14 (the day before Tax Day). 

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