Aspiring Big 4 Intern Needs Questions to Impress Pants Off Interviewers

We’ll kick things off a little early today as a young inquisitor has to prep for a big interview today.

Have a question about your career? Wondering if you should go back to your old firm after they dropped you like a sack of spuds? Concerned that the hours you’re working may cause you to blackmail your lover? Stop! Email us at advice@goingconcern.com before you do anything so we can put your problem before the masses prior to you doing something stupid.

Back to our interviewing intern:

What would you say could be a stomping question for these Big 4 kids? Got the internship interview Monday! I think I need/want one of those.


We had no idea what “stomping” meant, so we asked for a clarification:

I’m looking for a thought provoking question regarding the industry or the big 4 in particular. I would like an astute question to ask.

Okay, then. You want to smart, up-to-speed on the world around you, without coming off insincere or patronizing. We can help.

Despite your curiosity, you must avoid questions about money, hours you’ll be working, drug tests, hooking up with superiors and so on and so forth at all costs. We realize the temptation to inquire about the frequency of happy hours and what the hottie ratio is but please refrain from broaching these subjects.

Now, then. It’s extremely important that you ask questions that are specific to the firm with whom you’re interviewing. There are tons of thought-provoking questions out there but if you really want to grab someone by their pin-striped ass and get them to look impressed, it will help for you to devise a question that is specific to that firm, as well as the local business environment of the office’s city that you’ll be living in.

This could require some research on your part. For example, find out if there are some local charities that the firm partners with regularly and inquire about what activities employees participate in (this is where the sincerity helps) and if there are any events scheduled during your internship. This will demonstrate your desire to participate in extra-curricular activities and your interest in giving back to the community.

Another example is to be familiar with some of the major players in the business environment in your city. If you brush up on the local business news and ask a relevant question to a recent event, your interviewers will recognize that you’re cognizant of the business environment and that you’re interested to see what the angle is from the firm’s perspective.

And posing the question to the appropriate person is important. Asking the second-year associate that’s greeting you at the interview about the potential in the venture capital space probably isn’t be as effective as asking a manager or partner the same question. Also, be careful with wonky technical questions. Sure, it may help you look smart but it could also backfire if the question comes off manufactured and awkward.

Bottom line – your questions need to be sincere and detailed. It will show your interviewer that you’re genuinely interested in their firm (and not thinking about the next firm you’re meeting) and also that you took the time to prepare. Oh, and smile for crissakes. It will make your question sound far more pleasant.

We’ll kick things off a little early today as a young inquisitor has to prep for a big interview today.

Have a question about your career? Wondering if you should go back to your old firm after they dropped you like a sack of spuds? Concerned that the hours you’re working may cause you to blackmail your lover? Stop! Email us at advice@goingconcern.com before you do anything so we can put your problem before the masses prior to you doing something stupid.

Back to our interviewing intern:

What would you say could be a stomping question for these Big 4 kids? Got the internship interview Monday! I think I need/want one of those.


We had no idea what “stomping” meant, so we asked for a clarification:

I’m looking for a thought provoking question regarding the industry or the big 4 in particular. I would like an astute question to ask.

Okay, then. You want to smart, up-to-speed on the world around you, without coming off insincere or patronizing. We can help.

Despite your curiosity, you must avoid questions about money, hours you’ll be working, drug tests, hooking up with superiors and so on and so forth at all costs. We realize the temptation to inquire about the frequency of happy hours and what the hottie ratio is but please refrain from broaching these subjects.

Now, then. It’s extremely important that you ask questions that are specific to the firm with whom you’re interviewing. There are tons of thought-provoking questions out there but if you really want to grab someone by their pin-striped ass and get them to look impressed, it will help for you to devise a question that is specific to that firm, as well as the local business environment of the office’s city that you’ll be living in.

This could require some research on your part. For example, find out if there are some local charities that the firm partners with regularly and inquire about what activities employees participate in (this is where the sincerity helps) and if there are any events scheduled during your internship. This will demonstrate your desire to participate in extra-curricular activities and your interest in giving back to the community.

Another example is to be familiar with some of the major players in the business environment in your city. If you brush up on the local business news and ask a relevant question to a recent event, your interviewers will recognize that you’re cognizant of the business environment and that you’re interested to see what the angle is from the firm’s perspective.

And posing the question to the appropriate person is important. Asking the second-year associate that’s greeting you at the interview about the potential in the venture capital space probably isn’t be as effective as asking a manager or partner the same question. Also, be careful with wonky technical questions. Sure, it may help you look smart but it could also backfire if the question comes off manufactured and awkward.

Bottom line – your questions need to be sincere and detailed. It will show your interviewer that you’re genuinely interested in their firm (and not thinking about the next firm you’re meeting) and also that you took the time to prepare. Oh, and smile for crissakes. It will make your question sound far more pleasant.

Have something to add to this story? Give us a shout by email, Twitter, or text/call the tipline at 202-505-8885. As always, all tips are anonymous.


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