I would like to do three things:
a) Express my appreciation and gratitude for your resources and help,
b) Describe the interview format I encountered at Deloitte to help prepare other applicants,
c) Ask you about your professional opinion on two competing offers (KPMG vs. Deloitte).
– a) Thanking you
Thanks to your frameworks and the very detailed hints, tricks and feedback in the Accounting Interview Domination Prep-Book, I was able to achieve a 100% success rate in my interviews with accounting firms. (all based in Vienna, Austria).
Needless to say, all of the materials you provided were incredibly helpful in learning how to succeed in the interview. What surprised me most, though, was the following:
When going through to your interview prep-book, I felt you and Robert was a bit too picky and paying a little too much attention to minor details. In the end, most interviewers really weren’t as “strict” and as picky as you.
However, because I had practiced cases with the “strict and picky” Aadesh Yardgur and Robert Prescott, who paid so much attention to detail, I did so well.
And in my feedback sessions with the interviewers, I learned that it was exactly those little things (i.e. well thought out structured answers, relevant responses to the questions being asked, concise statements, and understanding what I bring to the table and expressing that in my answers, etc…)
that made the difference at the end of the day, and even made me get away with anxiety mistakes when answering.
I want to thank you not only for making the extra effort to push your “students” to perfection, but also:
- for offering valuable information on your website,
- for having taken the time to create the best accounting interview learning tool there is out there for a more than reasonable price, and
- for sending out e-mails with incredibly useful tips.
I don’t know if you are aware of this, but you are making a big difference in a lot of students’ lives.
Once more, from the bottom of my heart – and I assume I am speaking for many others as well.
LOL, your three-point opening to your email has a very familiar ring to it.
Congratulations on your offer and your 100% perfect record on case interviews.
And thank you for your very generous words. I appreciate your appreciation.
I’m glad my being picky ultimately ended up being useful to you. I thought I would take this opportunity to explain why I’m so picky about these things.
Like many things I do, I usually have a pretty good reason — though I do sometimes forget to share the reasons.
In fact, would you be surprised to learn that the Three Reasons Why I’m so picky and why I think others should be too?
Getting into an accounting firm is extremely competitive — and it’s the small stuff that differentiates you.
It is easy to forget that you are not just competing against an absolute standard of performance, but a relative one as well.
It’s my perspective that anyone who makes it to the interview room (even if they don’t get the offer) can very easily do the job.
So the first reason for being picky is not because it is necessary to ace the interview, but because it is helpful in convincing the interviewer to pick you instead of the other person.
If an accounting firm wants to hire five people this year, and they are interviewing 15 in final round, do the math and you realize ten people aren’t getting offers.
It’s the little stuff that gets you into the “five group”, even though all 15 could frankly do the job.
The accounting firms really, really value these skills in their accountants.
In fact, it’s the picky stuff they spend the first two years teaching you after you get the offer.
Every feedback session I had at Deloitte & KPMG involved feedback on all kinds of picky stuff. What words to use, what order to use them in, how to lead a meeting, how to say something in a different way to a client, swap the second half of the sentence with the first half, etc.. the “picky” stuff I emphasize in the interview is a subset of all the stuff that was drilled into my head as a working accountant.
It was always these picky things. So my conclusion is the accounting firms place extremely high value on these skills. And to further support this, I have… you guessed it… three sub-reasons.
a) If these skills were not valued, then they wouldn’t spend your first two years drilling them into your head…
b) If they like the accountants to have these skills, it suggests they would value these same skills in candidates.
c) The reason this stuff is valued is because it works with clients… and the golden rule is: if something works with clients, then it is something interviewers will instinctively value in candidates (in large part because that person interviewing you just got done with a feedback meeting with a first year who is requiring coaching on all these picky things that you just demonstrated in the interview!)
Okay, I don’t really have a third reason… but I feel enormous pressure to come up with one even if I don’t! Good habits die hard.
On second thought, I just came up with a half-baked (ahem, I mean reasonable) third reason.
Many of the picky things I mentioned are communication-oriented. Part of the value in doing much of this is for your own benefit, not just to impress interviewers or to be client-friendly.
Your words reveal your thinking. How you think is revealed by your words. Be disciplined in one, and the other follows.
So to summarize, I am picky about certain aspect of cases for three simple reasons:
1) It’s an easy way to achieve stand out in a very competitive field;
2) Accounting firms value these skills, so it makes sense they would value it in their candidates;
3) The disciplined picky stuff helps you think more logically, avoid getting lost in your own work, and forces you to be more focused.
Since we are on the topic of being picky, I thought I would mention that the best place to see this pickiness in action is in the Accounting Interview Domination Prep-Book®.
often it is that last 5% difference that separates you from the person who got the interview but didn’t get the offer. The margin for success in recruiting can sometimes be quite small.
It is for these exact same reasons that I strongly encourage Accounting Interview Domination members to listen to the program in a very specific way for best results:
1) First time through, read the questions and “pause” a lot, and try to identify how you would answer the question… then see if you were right. It is very, very, very important to get used to the communication aspects of the interview, and you do not master that aspect without actually saying the words out loud.
2) After the first time through, go through the program at least four more times (the subsequent times can be a little more passive).
The key is to get so accustomed to the habits (a.k.a “picky stuff”) that it is easier to just do the picky stuff than to forget it.
A few people go through the prep-book as many as 10 times… and trust me, if you go through it that many times, the stuff becomes second nature to you.
I know I make these two recommendations to every member, and I also know a surprising number of people ignore this advice because it seems unnecessary or even silly. But what can I say, it is what works the best.
In addition, there are always unexpected surprises in the accounting interview. Some new twist or an interviewer challenging you on some part of your answer, etc… if your brain is working at 110% just to do the basics, once you get something a little unexpected, you get totally thrown off and can’t recover.
Conversely, if you have mastered the so-called “picky” stuff, then instead of working at 110% to just do the basics, your brain works at say 30%.
In this scenario, when you are presented with something unexpected, you still have 70% capacity to handle that unusual twist to the case… and you are far less likely to get overwhelmed in a situation like this.
And ultimately, that’s one of the reasons why I’m so damn picky about these things.
All the best,
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