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by Vault Careers | January 21, 2015


Since December, Vault has been asking accounting professionals across the U.S. to tell us what it's like to work for their firms. So far, we've surveyed about 6,000 accounting professionals, and one of the questions we've been asking has to do with interviews. Specifically, we've been asking accountants to tell us the questions that they were asked during interviews with their firms.

And, to that end, below you'll find 49 common interview questions that top accounting firms ask. You'll see that we've grouped the questions into two categories: (1) "Tell me about a time when …" questions (sometimes called situational or behavioral questions), and (2) "Why you? Why us? Why accounting" questions (which test candidates' knowledge of themselves, the firm, and the public accounting industry). 

Note: If you work for EY, CBIZ, or another top accounting firm and haven't yet taken Vault's 2015 Accounting Survey, there's still time to do so here.

Tell me about a time when you … 

1) … disagreed with an authority figure and how you handled it. 

2) … received feedback and what did you do with that feedback to be better in the future. 

3) … did something at work or school that helped build enthusiasm in others. 

4) … exceeded expectations while under a time constraint.

5) … overcame a challenge. 

6) … disagreed with a coworker. 

7) … dealt with a difficult team member and how you resolved the conflict. 

8) … made a sacrifice in your personal life for work or school. 

9) … showed leadership. 

10) … sought additional information that broadened your perspective and changed your initial opinion regarding a decision. 

11) ... succeeded in achieving results even though you were part of a team that was difficult to motivate. 

12) …  exceeded the expectations in the delivery of a task or project by using your listening skills. 

13) … made an informed decision based on your research of a particular topic. 

14) … led a team. 

15) … adjusted your negotiating position mid-process in order to achieve an objective. 

16) … went above and beyond the expectations to deliver on something that was not asked of you. 

17) … diffused a tense client or team member conflict. What caused it and what was your response? 

18) … failed at something and what you learned from that experience. 

19) … overcame a situation when the outlook looked unattainable from the beginning. 

20) … managed several projects at once. 

21) … used your communication skills to resolve an issue at work.  

22) … had a different style from another member. How did you work together? 

23) … solved a significant problem.


Why you? Why us? Why accounting? 

24) Where do you see yourself in five years? 

25) How would your previous supervisor describe you to me?

26) What's something you'd like to share that's not on your resume? 

27) What motivates you to work hard and achieve your goals? 

28) What was your biggest regret from college? 

29) What are your flaws? 

30) What's your biggest weakness and how do you try and develop yourself to improve in that area? 

31) What are the top three things you're most proud of? 

32) What unique attributes would you bring to the firm? 

33) What distinguishes you from the dozens of other candidates we're considering? 

34) Who's your hero? 

35) What makes you want to work with us? 

36) Tell us what you know about our firm. 

37) Describe your ideal employer. 

38) What kind of firm culture are you looking for? 

39) What areas of accounting (tax, forensics, auditing, etc.) are you most interested in and why? 

40) What's your understanding of busy season hours and commitments? 

41) How did you decide to study accounting? 

42) What was your favorite accounting course and why? 

43) What motivates you to want to be in public accounting? 

44) How have your previous jobs prepared you for an entry-level position at a public accounting firm? 

45) What do you know about CPA firms? 

46) How would working for us fit into your overall career goals? 

47) What are you looking to achieve professionally from your career with us? 

48) How are your Excel skills and knowledge of accounting software? 

49) Why did you choose to be an accountant?

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