CPA Firm's Interview
To help us evaluate the skills for being an auditor, tax return preparer or consultant please be prepared to discuss issues related to the following questions, and more. If this looks like it might be a tough interview, that’s our intent. There are thousands of CPA’s in large and small firms from which to choose. What fits for one client does not necessarily work for another. Cost should be a consideration, but only as it relates to overall affordability and to otherwise similar offerings.
CONTEXT ----- COMPLUS Professional Controllers serve contractually as part of the management team for clients (owners of "for-profit" businesses in the Chicagoland area - McHenry to Merrillville) that are too big for him/her to run with only a checkbook in the back pocket and too small to hire one of us full-time. (That’s generally 20-100 workers or $2-10 million sales.)
- What licenses, professional credentials, insurances, etc. do you have?
- How would you describe your “target market?”
- How would you describe your competitive advantages?
For Audit Services:
- What do you want to know about a client before initiating an audit engagement?
- Under what circumstances have or would you resign from an audit engagement?
- When meeting with a bank lending officer while accompanying a client who is applying for a loan, how do you describe your relationship with the client?
- What computer software do you use to support your audit work?
- What procedures to you employ to keep audit costs to a minimum?
- What are the significant factors that influence how long it takes for you to complete the audit report?
- What are the significant factors that influence how long it takes for a prospective client to receive your proposal?
For Tax Services:
- What computer software do you use to support your tax work?
- What is your CPE strategy?
- How can you help a client to pay the least amount of taxes that it should owe?
- What are the significant factors that influence whether filing an extension would be necessary?
For Consulting Services:
- What other vendors’ products do you represent?
- How are you paid? (Fees based on -- cost or value, commissions, retainers, etc.?)
What is chargeable and what is free?
- What services can I buy from you that you have sold to my competitive business rival?
What services that you sell to me will you sell to my competitive business rival?
- If a client buys audit or tax or consulting services from you, what other of your services will you refuse to sell to the client?
- A business owner friend describes a series of “horror stories” about the accounting/office personnel and activities. He/she concludes with this question, “If I hired someone to fix the problems and gave him/her a ‘blank check,’ how much money do you think it will take and brieflydescribe how you think it should be spent?” How do you respond?
- A business owner friend comments and asks, “I bought my computer system (one with which you have no personal experience, yet) about a year-and-a-half ago. The vendor promised that it would solve all my accounting problems. I suppose that the other 3 or 4,000 companies that use this product are doing OK, but we're not. What should I do?” How do you respond?
- How would knowledge that the referenced company employs a “controller” affect your responses to the two previous questions?
- A business owner friend asks, “I just got a proposal from Administaff; what do you think?” How do you respond?
- How do you differentiate between a “consultant” and a “spy?”
By the way, if you're a business owner (especially a non-client) looking for a new CPA firm, you might find some of these questions helpful. COMPLUS is not a CPA firm. COMPLUS offers Professional Controller (management team) services. COMPLUS does not compete with CPA firms that primarily offer audit and income tax return preparation services.