Posted by
New Orleans Saints Fan
Member since Aug 2011
215 posts

Interview question
I'm interviewing with a few different CPA firms this semester for a full-time position, and I have a list of interview questions and I feel comfortable with most of them. Yet, I'm struggling to find an appropriate answer to one of them.
"Describe a time when you had to think 'outside the box' to solve a problem."
Can you all give an example of how you would answer this question? TIA

Cypress, TX
Member since Feb 2004
59911 posts

re: Interview question
Just try and find some sort of example where you went against the status quo.

This will probably make no sense to you, but I work in the supply chain industry.

I would answer as follows......

"At my company we typically applied a standard buffer of two weeks onto our products. This started to become a problem because we began to accrue inventory levels that were too high. We couldn't just cut all our buffer because we have various families that have very volatile demand. One month they will see 100 units, the next they will sell 5000. So we had to be creative in how we began to buffer our products. I looked at forecast accuracy on various families as well as demand standard deviations by month and came up with differential buffer levels by product family. Within 6 months we cut our inventory excess inventory in half from $300 million to $150 million."

Alabama Fan
North Alabama
Member since Nov 2008
2708 posts

re: Interview question
Think of any area where you had to apply critical thinking to a problem to come up with a solution that is not necassarily lock step with the normal procedure. Even if its not a CPA related problem, if you can show them how you worked a non-standard solution. (although I would think a CPA related answer would be better)

Cincinnati Fan
Location, Location, Location
Member since Aug 2006
45510 posts

re: Interview question
I hate interviewers who use those stupid unimaginative questions they got from some website.

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Member since May 2011
502 posts

re: Interview question
Talk about when you took charge of a group project and led your team in decision making or took on a topic in a paper that wasn't as easy as others were taking on. Something of that nature.

If you really want to wow them, if it was a case when it didn't work out well, briefly explain that it didn't work out the way you wanted but you learned how to better take risks, and explain how you got past the setback etc. They will respect that you take responsibility and have a good attitude. Perseverance is important in public accounting.

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Texas Tech Fan
Houston, Texas
Member since Nov 2011
3123 posts

re: Interview question
Big 4?

I interviewed and now work at a big 4, during the interview process I never really faced those.

Don't sweat it. Just be yourself. If they like you, you will here back from them.

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383 miles from Death Valley
Member since Nov 2009
2887 posts

re: Interview question
I work in PR/marketing/communications, so outside the box for me is different than for you. Lots of my performance reviews have asked this, and generally the answer is when I had to solve a problem not necessarily in my everyday job description.

So once I planned an event and a horrible storm came through that put a bunch of our people in danger, and I was the point person who had to figure out how to get everyone out, no one hurt and keep people from blaming or saying bad things about the company for something we couldn't have anticipated at the time. We had a bad weather plan, but what actually happened was nothing we expected. So out of the box is - on the spot - figuring that out.

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