Raising Your Hand

It seems every season is now the recruiting season for accounting graduates.  It’s amazing how similar the process is for all Big 4 firms around the world, and yet how different it is, too.  I see Google alerts talking about “Freshers” in India.  Not sure what that term refers to, but I can guess.  I’ve posted about some of the more informal attitudes that are prevalent in places like Southeast Asia.  And I had some very detailed posts about the recruiting process, role of universities and professors, and entry level salary issues, too.

If you have good and bad questions, please comment.  I will also add some more during the day.

This question was a new one.

Dear Ms. McKenna,

I’m a masters of accounting student at XXX University in Canada and soon I’ll be going to many recruiting events. I need some really good questions to ask recruiters. I would really appreciate if you could suggest any. But I don’t want them to be overboard, because it might backfire on me.

Here are some that i have so far;

[1] What has been the hiring trend for auditors during the past couple of years? I’ve heard some bigger firms did a lot of layoffs recently. I was wondering if you think that is because of over hiring in previous years or because of new legislation requiring less work on audit than when Sarbanes Oxley first came out? (it’s officially called something else in Canada, but people still call it Sarbanes Oxley.)

No, No No. Don’t talk about the negative. Instead turn this around into a question about career path. How does it work? What kinds of timeframes can you expect at each level? What are most important qualities for good ratings and promotions?

[2] How is your firm preparing your staff to transitioning towards IFRS? (Canada is switching to international standards in 2010)

This is good. Focus on the training aspect and your intellectual curiosity to learn new things, adaptability.

[3] Do you see the credit crisis in the US effecting Canada (or any other region of the world) significantly enough so that we will see similar levels of corporate fraud activity that we’re currently seeing in the US?

This question would only be asked if you were talking to a senior level client service professional. Recruiters and junior staff who will be your peers are not going to get into this kind of discussion. They are talking to you to make sure you’re not an ass, a tool, an idiot, can walk and chew gum at the same time, (no gum chewing during interviews) know when to take the earphones out of your ears (before you leave the house!) and are dressed appropriately. The peers are looking to see if you’re the kind of person they could see sharing a very small conference room with for a very long time.

Questions should always be focused on that firm.  Don’t expect the interviewers to bad mouth the other firms and your should take notice if they do.  Very bad form.

It is fair game to ask about work styles, culture, but not about how many vacation days, flex time or their LGBT group in the first interview.  However, highlighting your community involvement and activities outside of studies like traveling, volunteer or other interests gives you something easy to talk about so they can see that you can put together a complete thought.

2 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    All the regionals love to Big 4 bash in their interviews – they have no selling points but to counter the downsides of a Big 4 job.

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  1. […] you want additional guidance on what to ask, I recommend checking out Francine's post, which I must be unconsciously ripping off as I discuss this topic. Note that as professionals, we don't actually use the phrase "ripping off," but […]

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