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Common Big 4 Accounting Firm Interview Questions (KPMG, Deloitte,

E&Y, PwC)
1) Walk me through your resume*
During my internship in BDO, I was in the Corporate Finance Department doing
valuation work. The Corporate Finance Department does a whole range of services:
merger and acquisition advisory where they help to search and identify suitable
investment opportunities and acquisition targets for clients; transactional
support where they help clients to accelerate their business growth with access to
public and private funds (think IPO and private placements); lastly, corporate
advisory services such as alliances, joint ventures and corporate restructuring. At
the heart of all these arrangements is valuation, which is critical before they can
engage fully with the client. For example, BDO cannot provide corporate advice on
an M&A deal if they did not do a business valuation of the target company. The
clients who engage BDO are relying on BDO to tell them what the company is really
worth! Before the corporate finance department can perform its advisory and
transactional suppor t work, This calls for proper investment appraisals and
company valuation, which include financial analysis and due diligence
investigations, ensuring that they meet the clients investment criteria
and financial and risk profiles. Thus, my role there as an intern is to
support the valuation team to provide proper financial analysis into the
target companies so that target companies can be bought/sold at the
correct price.

More practical aspects..

Next, they started to involve me to a greater extent in the abovementioned valuation advisory
project. They assigned me to find comparable companies on Bloomberg and CapitalIQ
transaction screening. I also had to extract each of the comparable companies revenue, adjusted
EBITDA, enterprise value, PAT, beta and other financial values to prepare multiples for the
relative valuation method. I was also responsible for calculating WACC, which involves
finding out what is the target capital structure and unlevering the comparable companies
beta and levering it using the target capital structure with the Hamadas formula. It was a
really good hands-on experience for me because I learnt some of these concepts from class in
NUS and ready to apply them in real life.
Besides finding comparable companies, I also found it interesting when they assigned me the
task of valuing different types of intangibles. As the overseas target company is in the media and
IT industry, they had many intangible assets, such as customer database, proprietary software,
trademarks, brand names and domain names. I had to research and find out the most accurate
way of valuing them. My accomplishment from this task was that I was able to prepare a word

document that summarises the pros and cons of using different methods to value each of the
intangibles, and also find supporting literature from finance journals to support my claims. Some
of the methods I have identified include relief from royalties, MPEEM, and reproduction
method, just to name a few.
My last main accomplishment was that I managed to successfully find a suitable discount for
lack of marketability (DLOM) for a private company, which is usually quite challenging given
that DLOM is usually for public companies. I had to pour through textbooks, research findings
and Damodaran resources before ending up with using the FMV method to calculate it. It is not
the best, but at least it is better than subjective assessments, which seem to be the norm in the
The new IFRS on construction for Provided accounting advice through the
interpretation of accounting standard requirements
In my most recent internship with Great Eastern, I had the opportunity to develop a greater
understanding of Singapores financial services sector, and also passed 3 modules in the
Capital Markets and Financial Advisory Services Examinations. Having been selected to work
under Great Easterns top director of 2014, I learnt directly from members of senior
management, and gained an understanding of a good work ethic, the attitude of service
towards clients, and managed to hone my interpersonal and presentation skills through
corporate meetings that I was given the opportunity to participate in.

2) Tell me a little about yourself or background*

I am quite an analytical person. I like to think a lot and make sense of the world
around me. It is increasingly difficult because the world now is so complicated and
chaotic. I find solace in numbers because they are reliable and hard truths that allow
us to interpret the world we live in.
I am hardworking and diligent, meaning that I like to organize and make things
efficient in my life. I do not come from a well-to-do family, so throughout my whole
life, I was brought up to rely on my hard work and effort to achieve success. My
parents believe strongly in education and always provided the best facilities and
education for me. I am proud of what I have achieved, and will aim to do my best in
my career to repay the sacrifices they have made for me.
I am also quite a team player. I do not like to enter into confrontations, so I am always
trying to find common ground, building good relationships with people, and trying to
work things out. I like to get things done, but if things do not go according to plan, I
tend to remain calm and try to find the best possible solution.

3) Why KPMG/Deloitte/PwC/E&Y?*

To me, I think all about the same.

4) Why audit/tax/advisory?*
I believe that the role of auditors is extremely important, in ascertaining the accuracy of
client accounts and providing valuable services to clients, and even in supporting the
financial sector as a whole. Furthermore, I know that I want to work in the finance industry.
Audit gives me exposure to how businesses work, and better understanding of FRS by
auditing how companies prepare their financial statements. Of course, accounting is just
one element of it audit allows me to understand how businesses are run, how they identify
and manage risks, how they present themselves in the marketplace, and how the industries
in which they operate work.
5) Where do you see your yourself in 5 to 10 years
I want to do something and be the best. So I hope to join a company one day and be the
chief financial officer.
6) Tell me about a time when you had to be a leader
7) Tell me about a time when you were had to overcome an obstacle to get something done
Secondly, most of the financial values I had to extract from Bloomberg had to be as close to
the valuation date as possible, as this was the instruction given to me. However, the
challenge comes when Bloomberg does not update some companies quarterly results on
the FA function or when their year-end closing date is far from the valuation date. This
means that I had to search manually for some of the financial values from the companies
SGX quarterly financial announcement. For example, finding enterprise value required me
to find the market capitalisation as of valuation date (use Bloomberg price index function
instead of relying on FA) and add to the market value of debt (I had to search companies
quarterly announcements on SGX and from there, find the book value of short term interestbeating borrowings) and minus the cash of the company. This proved to be challenging at
first, but I managed to get the hang of it soon enough.
8) Tell me about a goal you had and how you achieved it
I took a module called leadership when I was in year 3. The topic of the presentation was in
a highly competitive business world, are leaders more likely to promote a culture of
ambiguity? It was an ambiguous project where it was hard to find a conclusion, yet we
wanted to impress our professor during the final presentation. At the start, it was tough,
because many of us had different interpretations of culture of ambiguity. Some of us
defined it as a norm of having no norms, while others felt it meant having no norms at all.
Personally, I felt both interpretations were acceptable, so I told my team that we just had to
make an executive decision as a team and move on. Towards the end, when it was time to

present, I felt that the traditional and conventional way of presenting was not good enough,
and we had to differentiate ourselves from the rest. So, I suggested making our
presentation into a skit, and using an interactive manner to explain a culture of ambiguity, it
will reduce the ambiguity of this topic. We followed through with it, and it paid off as no other
groups (at least in my sectional) took the risk and did something creative.
9) Tell me about a time when someone asked you to do something unethical
Someone asked me to help him take his IPPT. I was even tempted at all because it was not
10) How well do you work do in a team setting
Being in business school, I have worked in many group projects and I am quite used to and
adept at working in a team setting. I learnt how to appreciate diversity, and also witnessed
how difficult teamwork can be. Sometimes, it is important to prioritize the outcome, and
focus our efforts on working towards it. See the bigger picture. Brainstorm to find ideas and
direction in this structureless world.
11) Give me an example of a time when you were in a moral dilemma and how you handled
My friend asked me to overclock the number of hours in the timesheet as the people in the
office do not keep track of the clock in and clock out time. But he asked that I do it with him
if not it will be too obvious. The amount of OT pay is 1.5 times, and it was beneficial to me
as I would get more wages. However, I felt that this was cheating and not worth the guilt. I
could not live with that, so I told him I am not going to partake in it, and if anyone were to
ask me his whereabouts, I will tell the truth.
12) Give me an example of a time when you were working in a team, and a team member
wasnt meeting their responsibilities (and how you handled it)
13) Tell me about a time when you disagreed with someone in your group
We had to choose a company to work on for a project. The person was desperate to do
well, and overlooked many fundamental things. Usually, I will give in but this was a glaring
mistake and I had to disagree with him. So I sat down and talked to him one-to-one and tell
him how I felt. I tried to empathise with him by telling him that I want to do as well as him,
and that we were in the same boat and I was not his enemy. We reconciled our differences
and found another company we both agreed on.
14) Tell me about a time when you had to work under pressure with strict deadlines
The first incident was during the last week of internship, when my computer hard
disk crashed and I had to hand in some excel file to my supervisor. It required me to
work fast and efficiently under time constraint, as the client proposal was due in a

few days time. At the same time, I had to repair my computer as quickly as
possible because we had to work using our own laptops (BDO does not issue us any)
and there were no spare laptops around (the Bloomberg laptop was often being
used by others). I was quite stressed at that time, but I knew what had to be done
and persevered on despite the challenge.
Can talk about Bloomberg also.

15) Tell me about a time when you failed or made a mistake and how you handled it
There was once I did not check my work properly and told my supervisor that it is done.
However, she realized there were many items not filled up. First thing was to apologise and
acknowledge that it was my mistake. Be humble. Do not take it personally. Then, I
immediately corrected it and sent it to her straight away. The most important part is to learnt
from the mistake and not repeat it
16) What is your biggest weakness/strength
Weakness: "I feel that my greatest weakness is that I am very critical of my own work. I have always
prided myself on producing excellent and error-free work. While this is beneficial to my job
performance, it is possible to go to extremes.
(Recovery)"I have also found that I can easily waste time checking and rechecking. Now I am aware
of what to look for in being such a stickler, so I am always making a conscious effort to trust myself
and my quality focus more and not be so incredibly critical of my work. I know that there is a limit to

I have a hard time letting a project go or sharing a task with others because Im always
convinced that I can do it all on my own and that asking for help will be taken as a sign of
weakness. This has led to me taking on projects that have overwhelmed me and resulted in me
being frustrated and angry. It hasnt been easy learning to let go, but Ive been working on
trusting others and sharing the responsibilities for projects and as a result, have been able to
really accomplish some incredible things.

There are times when Im too blunt and honest and might seem aloof. I tend to say the first
thing that comes to my mind without thinking about what Im saying first. When Im dealing
with other people this can come across as cold and even a little mean which isnt my intention
at all. Once I realized I was doing this it was a matter of slowing down and thinking before I
say something to someoneespecially when Im giving people feedback. Im actively working
on making sure that my criticisms are constructive and that Im leaving people with solutions
and options rather than just shutting them down

17) What do you like to do for fun

Run, swim, badminton and soccer mostly.
18) What is your greatest achievement (or What are you most proud of)
Water polo championship
19) Give me an example of a time when you disagreed with a superior

20) Do you prefer you like to travel?

21) Tell me about a time when you improved a process (or came up with a creative solution)
I came up with a simple excel-based organizer for O Joy services for them to record down
all the information about their donors. The current system was very messy and hard to
identify key donors and outreach to them. The new system rank donors based on three
criteria: recency, frequency, and monetary, and the scores are concatenated to give overall
descriptions on donor profiles and the action steps to take.
22) Tell me about a time when you had to prioritize your responsibilities
Ok so firstly, I am not a person who likes last-minute surprises. I like to do things in advance
and plan out everything. So to me, I prioritise and plan ahead most of the time. When I am
given a lot of tasks to perform, I make a list. I work out what order to do things in by thinking
about which tasks are urgent and how important each task is, because not all tasks are
mission-critical or urgent. If Im not sure whats urgent and what isnt, or how important
different tasks are, I find out. If Im given a new task I add it to the list and decide when to do
it, so I adapt the order in which I do things as necessary.
23) What do you like best about a career in public accounting
I like how it value adds to the financial sector by allowing investors to have a true and fair
view of the companys financial state. Thats the textbook answer. I am not so altruistic. For
me personally, I think its about the trust people place in you to prepare good statement of
accounts, and doing this job and repaying the trust people place in you. The sense of
satisfaction you get from doing a good job ad reflecting the most accurate state of a
companys finance is immense and rewarding.
25) Tell me about a time when you had to handle a difficult or angry customer/client

26) What is the most difficult decision youve ever had to make at in school/work? How did
you arrive at your decision?

27) If your friends could pick 3 words to descibe you, what would they be
Hard working, on-the-ball, motivated, understanding, innovative
29) What is your take on (insert current event such the Feds Stimulus program, overall
economic health ect.)
30) What would you change about your schools academic program
Remove the bell curve.
31) What sets you apart from the rest of the candidates
The internships I did have exposed me to commercial realities and the workings of the
business world as most of them are finance-related. It has taught me to be more analytical
as I had to learn on the job and adapt to the different requirements, and have professional
skepticism as what people tell you may not be accurate most of the time. [Also, my time at
advisors alliance exposed me to motivational quotes to push myself and communicate with
others- this will be crucial when I work late into the night]. I believe that these skills I have
picked up will allow me to understand audit tools and methods and have more critical
thinking, and ultimately excel in my role as an audit associate.