September 22, 2018

Bad interviews

Why Referrals Mean Nothing If You’re a Nothing

Ed. note: There's another new face around here and though his name might make you think he should have been a lawyer or, possibly, a comic book villain instead of an auditor, we hope you'll welcome him with open arms. Andrew Argue is a CPA and the founder of Ten Key Heroes, a freelancing platform […]

Big 4 Wanna-Be Who’d Even Settle For BDO Just Can’t Get a Break

Ed. note: While we can’t go rough up recruiters on your behalf, we’re happy to give you advice on how to make them do your bidding for you. Get in touch, we’ll put our team of trained monkeys on your problem right away. Also, I apologize in advance for the length of this letter.

Good evening Adrienne,

I’m a senior at the University of Michigan due to graduate in 2012 with a double major in accounting & finance with over 150 credits. I recently went through the recruiting process at the University to try and land an internship and I happened to land a couple.

My issue here is that I didn’t get any internships with any of the firms that I was really looking forward to interning with GM, Chrysler, another Fortune 500 corporation, Baker Tilly, Plante Moran, and another regional public accounting firm. My favorites which were Plante Moran and Baker Tilly didn’t seem to like my performance at the interviews and so I never heard back from them. But I did get offers from the regional public accounting firm for a winter and summer internship with a large Fortune 500 corporation that I did accept.

The reasons why I did not perform well during my first few interviews was because it was my first time having job interviews of this sort and so I was unprepared. I have since had numerous mock interviews with family and friends and I am now very good at interviewing, but I feel that it is a little too late because the damage has already been done, all of the firms have already gone through the recruiting process at our University.

I did apply for PwC, Deloitte, and E&Y early on but I never heard back from them. KPMG does not recruit at our campus. I thought that I was a very solid candidate with an overall GPA over 3.8 and a 4.0 accounting GPA which I have maintained while holding a part time job throughout my college career. I think the area where I am lacking is the volunteering department but I have been active in Beta Alpha Psi which I do volunteer work through. I have participated in programs such as Junior Achievement amongst others. I would have done a lot more volunteer work but I am the oldest child from a single parent home. We have 5 younger children in our family whom I help my mother take care of (if you’re wondering where our father is, I am too; we haven’t heard from him since 2001)!

My dream is to work for a Big 4 firm but I am having a hard time landing any interviews with them. Considering that I will be interning with a regional this winter and a large corporate firm during the summer of 2012, do you think I will ever break into the Big 4? They say that once you start working for a regional firm, it is extremely tough to move up into a larger firm such as one of the Big 6. I have worked very hard over the past 4 years and I feel that I deserve it, but I understand that I am not entitled to it just because I have worked hard up to this point. If it is at all possible to break into the Big 4, do you have any advice on how I should go about doing so considering that I will be graduating soon? I only have about 4 classes left before I graduate so I won’t be in school for that much longer.

The regional accounting firm is a great firm but I just don’t feel like it would be a good fit for me. I’m not ungrateful, I do realize that there are hundreds of students in the same position that I’m in who interviewed with numerous firms and didn’t get a single offer. I’m happy that I got 2 offers from different firms. I just feel that I would be much happier with either a Big 4 firm or maybe even BDO or Grant Thornton. Can you give me any advice about breaking into any one of these firms?

Also, I feel that since I didn’t do well at the interviews with Plante Moran and Baker Tilly which are 2 very highly regarded firms, I will never be able to work for these firms in the future. Do you think I have a chance of redeeming myself with them? What advice do can you give a person such as myself?

In case anyone finds this to be TL;DR, I’ll save you a few minutes and sum up the predicament: soon to graduate, 3.8 GPA, flopped Plante Moran and Baker Tilly interviews and wants to get into the Big 4, BAD. You’re welcome.

Anyway, I have to admit I’m a little stumped. On paper, you sound great. High GPA, u spell gud, Junior Achievement and BAP experience, able to express yourself… wait a minute, maybe that’s it. You know how to express yourself.

I’m going to go way out here and wonder out loud if your lack of success with the firms you want centers around the fact that you have a pretty good idea of what you want. You probably also have opinions you are not afraid to express. You realize that scares the crap out of firms looking for a blank, unquestioning canvas they can mold into their own private workhorse, right? You use words like “I feel,” which you are not allowed to do when you work for the Big 4. I kid. Kind of.

Your point about being unprepared for interviews should serve as a lesson to the junior accounting students out there reading this: interview skills are critical for landing a gig in public before you leave school. Anyone who actually works in a public accounting office can confirm that you don’t even have to be much of a step above completely awkward to get the job, you just have to know how to shine at an interview.

Are you doomed forever? Doubtful. There is not some master list the firms share amongst themselves that brands you as a loser for the entirety of your life in public.

My suggestion to you would be to fast track the CPA exam as having that done will definitely make you more marketable. Also make sure you are discoverable to recruiters by having a strong LinkedIn presence once you have some work experience under your belt, and try to do as much networking as possible both online and in the real world; any professional events you might be able to sneak off to will allow you to make personal impressions with those in positions you are working toward.

In the meantime, try not to feel too butthurt about the regional firm gig (try this discussion earlier about mid-size firm opportunities). On the bright side, you actually got an internship, so use it.

Can anyone else help this guy out? I’m kind of stuck for ideas.

(UPDATE) Promotion Watch ’11: KPMG Managers-in-waiting

From the mailbag:

The last few years KPMG announced manager promotions by this time, but I haven’t heard a peep from anyone so far. Have they changed the timing?

Digging through the archives, it’s true that around this time last year, chatter around the announcements of promotions at KPMG had begun but as our tipster said, so far it’s been strict Radio Station silence. Last year, details were rolling out through early June, so it could be that they’re dragging it out for effect.

Anyway, one rumor that we just heard is that in some KPMG offices, SAs up for manager are being asked to interview for their promotions. Personally, I’ve never heard of this but considering the need at SA, it would be a strategic way to hold some people back, chalking it up to “he/she didn’t interview well” versus the cryptic “he/she isn’t ready.”

If you’ve recently gotten word on promotions in your office, heard anything about these interviews or are simply in the know, email us the details and discuss below.

UPDATE:This just in:

PA leadership told us manager promotions would be approved on 5/20/11, with announcements in the following weeks after the approvals. haven’t heard anything about the ‘interviewing’ but i’m not up for Manager promotion so i guess i wouldn’t know.

Nice. Just in time for the end of the world.

UPDATE, May 26th, circa 12:35 pm:
According to a Klynveldian close to the situation in New York, “they seem to be making calls to those up for manager.”

Marcum Purchasing UHY New England Locations, Tax Quizzes to Be Given?

Web CPA is reporting that Marcum, the firm best known for quizzing potential employees, is purchasing three offices of UHY Advisors (Boston, Hartford and New Haven) effective April 16th.

The addition of the three locations would make fourteenfifteen total for Marcum, who currently only has a Greenwich office in New England. After the deal is closed, UHY Advisors will have fourteen locations well.


No financial details were reported but it is reported that all the UHY employees will be retained by Marcum, pending the successful passing of a rigorous quiz given in a room with no windows, air conditioning and a one hour time limit.

A Marcum spokeswoman declined to comment and a message with UHY was not immediately returned.

Marcum to Buy UHY Offices in New England [Web CPA]