Why do accounting interviews ask ZERO technical questions?

If you want to work at a bank on Wall Street, or even obtain an internship, in the finance field, they ask you a lot of technical questions during the interview. In the accounting field - whether it be Big 4 or a smaller firm - this is not the case, and the interviews are ENTIRELY behavioral/fit. Can anyone explain why this is the case, and how this makes sense to not ask any technical questions?

Comments (5)

Most Helpful
Mar 13, 2019

Just some thoughts:

1) Accounting academic performance is more indicative of knowledge for accounting jobs than finance classes are for finance jobs. In fact for Audit a MACC is overkill

2) Most new hires are required to get their CPAs and if you don't you're out

3) Bad employees going to churn and it's easier to tell who's going to churn based on fit questions than it is asking technical questions

4) Hiring managers can train a monkey to do Audit within reason but they can't fix your personality so being normal is a much more differentiating factor than you might expect, especially for accounting majors

5) Asking super difficult accounting questions and making a decision based on that wouldn't necessarily give you the best funnel or indication of which students would be the most successful on the job. Maybe counter-intuitive as the most advanced accounting students would be quickly bored

All that being said, I think the interviews could stand to be a little more rigorous, but placing 80%+ of the focus on fit is certainly worthwhile.

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Mar 13, 2019

So here's why I don't quite get what you're saying.

Compare a 4.0 from Joe Shmo College vs a 3.7 from Highly Ranked School.

The 4.0 is obviously the higher GPA, but the 3.7 at the Highly Ranked School probably learned a lot more applicable/rigorous knowledge. So by avoiding technical questions, it seems like you give the kids at "lower-tier" schools an unfair advantage. Now, I know that the accounting equation is the same no matter what school you go to, but you must agree that some programs are far more rigorous than others.

Another thing is - fit questions can easily be made-up. You can't horse-sh*t your way through a technical interview. It's not like you can use your charm to convince the interviewer that taxes payable is an asset...

Mar 13, 2019

I've worked in audit at big 4, and I can tell you technical knowledge is really not important until you're manager/senior manager. But, you learn all of that on the job, through the CPA exams, and through pursuing the codification as needed. Until that level, you just need to be able to logic through problems and have a basic understanding of how accounting works... the day to day isn't technical at all.

The hiring decision probably doesn't come down to GPA. It comes down to 1) is this person normal enough to work with 70 hours/week (during busy season), 2) are they hard working enough that they can handle that without breaking, and 3) do they have a base level of logic/common sense needed?

You could also make the argument that highly ranked schools might not have a more rigorous program, but frankly, it's irrelevant to the discussion.

Mar 13, 2019

Lol. Both are getting the job. A pulse and a feigned desire to protect the shareholders are the two most important characteristics an audit firm cares about for an associate. To make senior you need to be a CPA so it weeds out the real shitty ones.

The only "3.7 from a highly ranked school" not getting an offer must be a real weirdo, hence the cultural fit questions.

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Mar 13, 2019
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