I Got A DUI. Can I Still Get Hired By Accounting Firms?


From the mailbag:

Hi Andrew,

This is kind of a touchy subject that I tend to shy away from, but I need to know before I get too far into my college career. I’m currently getting ready to take Intermediate 1, but I’m nervous to continue my journey because of my past. I know that getting into the Big 4 is tough and that would be a dream.

However, I have a DUI that I received when I was 20. I know this isn’t a huge deal as DUIs aren’t that uncommon these days, as long as I’m up front about it. Does this kill my chances with the Big 4 though? I was young and didn’t know what I was in for, but I know that is no excuse. Do you think I can still pursue a Big 4 career, or cut my loses and switch majors?

Please don’t sugar coat it. I would rather switch majors now than get to the Big 4 and be turned down.

P.S. My friend mother is a Partner at Deloitte and said she could get me an internship, but I don’t want to make her look bad because of this issue.



Great questions. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to cover something that so many people deal with!

The truth is: this sucks.

It’s an annoying problem to deal with and many more people drive under the influence than get DUI’s.

But, you are one of the unlucky ones who got caught.

Is this going to ruin your career? 


It’s unfortunate you didn’t get the job first because I have never heard of anyone getting fired from public accounting because of a DUI.

In fact, I knew a guy who got 3 DUI’s while working in public accounting.

His parents drove him to work. He was a manager.

When he traveled, he made the staff drive him around.

He wasn’t fired.

Now I’ll be honest, that did shock me.

But for you the situation is different.

You don’t have the job yet.

But if you make it past the career fair….

Then past the social events…. (P.S do not drink at any of these events given your situation)

Then past the first interviews….

Then past the office visits and final interviews….

AND you receive an offer…. THEN you will get a background check.

If you make it through that many steps and they want to hire you…. it is very likely they will still want you if you have a DUI.

But they MUST find out about it from you. Not the background check.

That goes for anything that shows up on there.

I would tell them as soon as you receive an offer. They won’t be able to run your background check until you sign the paperwork allowing them to. That’s almost always after the offer has been made.

At that point, reach out to either the main Partner you’ve been communicating with OR the HR representative. Whoever you feel closer to.

Ask for a quick call or to meet them for coffee and start the conversation like this:

First off, I want to say that I am completely honored and grateful for this opportunity. This has been a dream of mine for a long tie and I and so thrilled I’ve made it this far. That being said, I have something I need to tell you about.

Years ago, I made a terrible mistake that I want to tell you about now.

I received a DUI.

I learned my lesson and will never drive under the influence again. I spoke with a number of mentors about this issue and when to bring it up and they all said to wait until after I received an offer. I wasn’t trying to hide it and I know you will perform a background check at som point. If this jeopardizes the offer, I totally understand and you have the right to make whatever decisions you want. I just want to make sure you heard it from me before any background check takes place.

If you handle this situation right, you can honestly turn this dark mark into a shining example of your integrity, honesty, and maturity.

Let us know how it goes!

  • Professor

    Hi there,

    I just read your post and have one question. I haven’t received an offer yet and got a background check. Just not sure how I was supposed to handle this tricky situation as obviously, I hadn’t had the chance to discuss this in the previous rounds of interviews. What should I do?