Exact strategies I used for my Forensic Accounting Interview at a Big 4 Firm

Today we have Toshaj Oza a qualified Chartered Accountant sharing about the interview process in Forensic Accounting in Big 4 Accounting firms.

He is a Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) | Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) from ACFE | FAFP - CIT ICAI | DISA - CIT ICAI.

My Journey Becoming a Chartered Accountant

I cleared my CPT (1st level CA exam from ICAI) in my 1st attempt, my IPCC (2nd level CA Exam) in my 3rd attempt, and my CA Finals again in my 1st attempt.

I guess I am a late bloomer!

I did my internship in Tax/Audit from J.T Shah & Co, a mid-sized CA firm in Ahmedabad, India.

My articleship experience mainly consisted of traditional Audit and Tax work (nothing related to Forensic Accounting).

After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant I realized traditional Audit and tax is not for me.

I wanted to specialize in a field but I did not know which field. I researched the available alternatives and Forensic Accounting just seemed perfect for me.

The hardest part, I got offers from Big 4 international accounting firms like EYDeloitteetc after qualifying as a CA. However, they all offered me opportunities in Audit and not Forensic Accounting! Thus I had to reject the same.

In short, I got no offers for Forensic Accounting profiles, the reason was – No experience in Forensic Accounting during my internship.

Luckily I got an offer from a mid-sized firm in India that was into Forensic Accounting services and started my career.

After working in a mid-sized firm for almost 2 years, I moved to Big 4 Firms like PwC and EY in their Forensic Investigation Team.

How Did I Rock My Forensic Accounting Interview at a Big 4 Firm

1. Prepare for the interview

  • Your resume shows prospective employers your - Education, Professional Qualifications, and Achievements.
  • These factors are important to get the job, but the interview can often be the secret sauce.
  • It is vital to present yourself with confidence and to prove you are well aware of the role you are interviewing for.
  • One way to ensure interview success is - to have a 'good idea of what kind of questions could be asked.
  • Everything worthwhile requires advance preparation and planning so does - Your Job Interview.
  • In addition to the usual questions that arise in a typical job interview, consider questions the interviewer is likely to ask you concerning your specific field to test how effective you will be on the job.

2. Know the Forensic Accounting Interview questions which could be asked

I had recently appeared and cleared my interviews with EY and PwC for their Forensic Investigation services roles.

Thus I would be apt to answer this question (I hope so!)

Generally, Big 4's interviews for Forensic Investigation services starts with:

  • The HR Round: In the HR round they usually ask questions about the previous job and why we would like a change. They also enquire if we would be comfortable with the new location and discuss the job profile and things like traveling and all. It is generally very easy (You just have to know why you want that job!).
  • Technical / Manager round: Unlike Assurance services, there is no fixed set of questions which they ask for hiring in Forensic Services. They go through your CV and ask in detail about each of the assignments you have worked on (yes, they ask about what you have already done!), and based upon those assignments they give you a case study to solve.
  • Written test: They have 1 written test. For the written test, they give you 3 topics related to Forensic. You have to write an essay on any of them.
  • Partner round: In the Partner round, they ask some technical questions and try to grill us and assess our responses to the pressure. They usually talk about the organization and ask us about our hobbies, interest, and whether we would be okay moving to a new location. They ask questions as to why we selected this field. That's all and at last, they give us an opportunity to ask them any questions we have. Don’t miss on this - Go ahead and ask questions that you have. They kind of like when you ask questions because it shows you have an interest in the company and in the job profile.

Here are a few Technical Questions which they asked me and which they could ask you as well:

  • An Accountant has the authority to pass entries through Balance sheet Accounts, if any Profit and Loss account is affected he has to get it approved by the supervisor. The Bank and Cash are reconciled. A whistleblower has complained that the accountant is making fraudulent entries for personal benefits. Give 5 examples of the same – So here I had to give 5 examples of the same.
  • How do you draft a report in case of Fraud Risk Assessments and in case of Fact-finding engagements – So I had to elaborate exactly how to draft a report.
  • What are the investigative steps to trace the end-use of funds?
  • What kind of investigative steps should be conducted to collect evidence to incriminate an employee suspected of fraud. Give some examples.
  • How do we scientifically determine the likelihood of fraud in Fraud Risk Assessment?
  • How do we check the authenticity of the payments made to the vendor?
  • What is the Fraud Risk associated with Procure to Pay Cycle?

These are the type of questions that are generally asked in Technical Interview Rounds.

And I repeat - They ask all these questions based on your previous work experience/assignments in Forensic.

Although, they would drill deeper into the same based on the answers of the interviewee.

They would also enquire about the ERP Systems you have worked on and the investigative tools you have used to conduct the investigation.

3. Know how to Apply for an opportunity in Forensic Accounting 

  • I cannot say much on this since I had just registered on naukri.com and the whole process went as it goes from there usually.
  • But you can always send your CV through other procedures as well like physically dropping your CV, through references, etc.

4. How to prepare for the interview 

  • For the interview preparation, I did not do anything in particular! My experience in Forensic Accounting helped me with the interview.
  • One has to be thorough about whatever he/she has written in their CV regarding any assignment about Forensic Accounting.
  • Most of the questions/case study asked during the interview is based on your past experience.
  • Also, more than knowledge, you have to be able to present yourself confidently. That's the most important thing!
  • All my interviews were in English and they would expect you to be fluent in English considering the clientele you would be working with (however even if you are not fluent in English but know your work well you will be selected for sure!)

5. Which team should you apply to in Forensic Accounting 

  • From what I understood during my conversations with the interviewers is - Big 4 Forensic Investigation teams are comprised of people from many different domains and not just Chartered Accountants (CA).
  • Typically, there are three teams - Digital Forensics, Core Investigators (like me), and Data Analytics team.
  • Core Investigations (like me) are involved in each step and play a coordinating role in each team.
  • Teams are decided based upon the assignment the firm is getting and planned accordingly.
  • Basically, in every Forensic Assignment, the predication has to be established, and only after that, it is decided to spend on conducting an investigation

To Conclude...

  • One should be confident (not overconfident, just confident!).
  • Spend time preparing your resume. Include the correct details in your resume. One has to be thorough about whatever he/she has written in their CV regarding any assignment about Forensic Accounting. Most of the questions/case studies would be based on your previous experience.
  • Passion to solve puzzles should be evident.
  • Know WHY you are applying to the particular organization and know which team you would like to join
  • Integrity is a must in this job role. Be honest throughout the interview!

Now It's Your Turn...

Have you considered joining a Big 4 Accounting Firm in Forensic Accounting?

Also are you aware that there is a lot of mid-sized Accounting firm who are into Forensic Services?

Leave a comment below and let me know.

If you have any questions you can contact me on LinkedIn - Toshaj.

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