The #1 Interview Mistake You’re Probably Making


The interview is the most stressful part of the journey in starting your career in public accounting.

I remember the first time I went to a full “office visit” with PwC. I literally thought it was going to be a tour of the office, you know, see the kitchen and what not.

Luckily my friend told me it was three interviews and a lunch with 4 employees.

Phew, luckily I was warned.

When speaking with the Bean Counter community the last few weeks, I’ve realized many people aren’t aware of the most important part of the entire interview process.

Your questions!

Ya ya, you probably know at the end of the interview, you should ask questions about the firm to show your interest, but I’m talking about more than that.

The single most important virtue to show these firms is your curiosity.

When you’re at the pre-interview social, ask questions.

When you’re sitting with the pre-interview greeter, ask questions.

In the interview, ask questions.

At the post-interview lunch (if you have one), ask questions.

It feels counter-intuitive, aren’t they supposed to be interviewing you?

Yes, they are. BUT you’re also interviewing them. Many students are so desperate to find a job that they just want to prove they are the best candidate with examples, stories, and perfectly crafted answers.

However, it’s a proven sales tactic to sit back, and ask as many questions as possible. And yes, you are selling during the interview process.

So I always keep a few questions in my back pocket every time I’m awkwardly standing by or talking to a professional:

Hi, nice to meet you.

(extend hand for a shake)

So how long have you been at the firm?

Are you in audit, tax, or advisory?

What type of clients do you work on? Large, small, specific industries?

Do you travel a lot for the position?

Did you go to school here or where did you go to school?

Where are you from originally?

So are you going to quite a few of these recruiting events this time of year?

And that’s just where I get started. If I have any thoughts or curiosities on any question, I ask a follow up question.

For example:

Me: Where are you from originally?

Professional: San Diego, California

Me: Nice! I actually lived in Valencia when I was really young, when did you move to Florida? For University?

That’s just one example. The great part about this strategy is that you get the person talking. If you notice, I asked about 7 questions, and if I could have one follow-up question for each original question, that could be 14 questions! And I haven’t even started talking about myself yet!

Studies have shown that on average, people spend 60 percent of conversations talking about themselves. Why? Because “it feels good”.

It’s more important to have the professional leave your presence feeling good than it is to stream off an endless list of your accomplishments.

In my 42-page eBook, The Interview I go through all the questions you should ask at the end of the interview, but you can ask those at any time in the process!

Give it a try. Keep the focus on the professional, not on you. And I think you’ll be surprised at the results!