You Have A 3.9? Why Such A Low GPA? Yes, That Was An Actual Question.

low gpa

From a loyal Bean Counter fan resume review customer:

Hi Andrew,

A friend of mine recently had an interview with one of the Big 4. She applied for experienced hire like me and was asked about her GPA in college. The guy interviewed her ask her why she was not able to get a 4.0 GPA while she has a 3.9! At the end she didn’t get the offer. (Although I highly doubt that GPA is the only reason she is not getting the offer). My concern is how likely would i be asked about my GPA during the interview? I remember you told me GPA is irrelevant for experienced hire. But in case if I was asked about my GPA, is there a specific way I can answer this question to weight out the fact of low GPA? Please Advise, thank you!
What a RIDICULOUS and I’m sure, true story.
Sometimes people forget that the interview process is a two-way street! YOU are interviewing them AND they are interviewing you.
If you use my method, you won’t be begging for a job, you’ll get to pick your job.
When you have a 3.9 GPA, and someone asks you, “why did you have a 4.0″, that is a HUGE red flag. I mean, was this person actually serious?
Will he expect you to have no typos on any workpaper?
Will he expect you to meet every deadline, even if the client doesn’t give you the documentation you need?
Will he expect you to show up on time every day even if there is stand-still traffic on the interstate?
What if your plane is delayed, would he expect you to circumvent the laws of gravity and soar across states like superman just to make sure you didn’t have 1 mistake???
There is one thing that’s for sure. Congratulate your friend. Not working at that firm is probably the best thing that happened to the next 5 years of her life!
You definitely wouldn’t want to work at a firm that would ask that question. Remember, YOU are interviewing them AND they are interviewing you.
Many people get scared away by these stories, but as I’ve mentioned before, I saw another student had a 3.99 GPA. Mine was 3.23, I thought it was over. I got the internship, he didn’t. There are so many way to attack the question of, “why wasn’t your GPA higher?”
And yes, it is a reasonable question as you start to get into 3.3, 3.2, 3.1, and sub 3.0 GPAs. But if you have a 4.0, I personally see it as a red flag. Did you do anything else during college?
But when the question comes up. Respond with the truth. What was the reason the GPA was lower? Did you work during college? Have some family issues that came up? Did you speak another language first and had to learn english alongside your degree?
Come up with a combination of reasons and then..
Mention that you believe your technical skills are more than adequate for an entry level position. Maybe it’s because you have relevant accounting experience, or have started to pass the CPA exam. Come up with something and if you don’t have anything, get a job, or get started on the CPA. If you have a solid justification, you’ll be fine. I even went to the lengths of putting together a graph of my semesterly GPA in my portfolio (which I detail in Get Hired By Big 4 Accounting Firms) and as you can see, I made solid progression each semester:
And if you’re an experienced hired, many times it won’t even matter to them. If you have at least 1 year of full-time professional experience, I advocate taking your GPA off the resume completely!