Introverts and public accounting

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    Will being an introvert limit my opportunities in public accounting? A few years back, when I first started working in a professional environment, I noticed my introverted personality was not quite liked by some of my co-workers. Some days I would be so concentrated on what I was doing, that I would go hours without saying a word. I never thought being introverted could be a problem but I have realized it could definitely be one, one day. Ever since I have tried to address my introverted tendencies and I definitely put more effort into being more sociable and making small talk. I have enrolled in a Macc program at a target school in my state and I’m planning on doing massive networking when I start so hopefully I’ll get an offer from one of the big 4. Keep in mind, I’m not shy or rude or anything like that, I just tend to be quiet at times, especially when I’m working (I really REALLY concentrate on what I’m doing) and also tend to think a lot. Just wondering if there are introverts in public accounting and if so, what are some of the challenges that they face? And like I previously stated, will being an introvert limit my opportunities in public accounting (job offers, promotions, etc)?



    I doubt you will stay in public accounting long enough to impact you. As as staff, a senior / manager will do most of the client talking for you. If you do think you want to be there for a long hall (after working a few days you'll reconsider) then it will be a problem. At higher levels people don't even care if you can do accounting if you make really good client impressions / bring in clients.

    to sum it up: grunt labor = staff = introverted OK

    however, you'll have to stretch your limits to get the job


    It is not impossible but yeah you may have to work at being social/outgoing more. I can relate. But for me it depends on the situation. Longer I am with co-workers I get used to them and more comfortable. Networking events are great place to practice, espcially if it is accounting related… you have common subjects! I am the worst with people whom I dont have much in common. It is fine to be concentrated on something but dont be the one termed “robot” in the office. I mean this kindly and I want to help(see my username). As with everything in life there is balance and more practice the better. Another point, I dont know about you, but for me a part of my “shyness” is fear of being wrong or being mistunderstood. The best attitude be a duck and let it roll off your back like water. Dont take comments too personally. One place this is currently hurting me with my boss I need to speak up more and show I am interested in things other than my projects(showing I am a wellround accountant). So this is perfect example of where being interoverted can be a bad thing in public accounting.

    Hope this helps.



    Big 4 hire somewhat quiet thoughtful smart people all the time.

    So much of what gets you hired or not depends on how you do in the inteview. Introverts, IMO, can be equally as good of interviewees as extroverts. Obviously, they want you to be confident and well spoken – being extroverted isnt gonna make that any easier.

    Remember being introverted does not equate to being antisocial. And i'd imagine that being quiet while you work is generally considered a good thing.



    It will be an obstacle if you are on the audit side of things. But I don't think it would be an issue if you're going onto the tax side.


    Mrs 300

    I've been in public accounting for almost 8 years (and counting). 5 of them were in a Big 4 firm. My opinion is that they typically want to see people who are more outgoing because in public accounting, it is a major part of your job is to sell work. Those people are typically out there, day-to-day, meeting with clients (new and prospective), etc. However, as someone above mentioned, this will typically not be required until you advance to the manager/senior manager level.

    Also, in public accounting, I feel like there is such a variety of personalities and everyone sort of has his or her role. There are the really technical guys/gals out there who seem to be on the introverted side. There are people who travel and who manage jobs and really focus on the client. If it's a good public accounting firm, there will be a variety of individuals and you should fit in somewhere.

    So, I do not think that being an introvert will limit your opportunities in public accounting. And if X company doesn't hire you because you are introverted, you probably do not fit with their idea of their culture and it wouldn't be the place for you anyway!



    why would coworkers mind if you're being quiet? just remain quiet but make sure you walk around with a inviting smile on your face. if they continue to give you shit, it's their problem for not taking the initiative and being more hospitable by approaching you



    I'm definitely not introverted, not by any means, but I try to stay quiet and get my work done. I don't think being an introvert would limit you unless you have a problem talking to people or speaking in front of a group. My boss doesn't like to speak in public. He's probably forgotten more than I'll ever know and it would probably be better for us if he did all the talking. We have quite a few governmental clients so there are A LOT of council meetings, but he leaves those to me. If I know the answers to their questions, I answer them. If I don't know the answer then I tell them that I have to consult with him. When we introduce budgets, I'm the one who goes and explains why we increased one category and decreased another, or tells them about changes in standards or requirements. I'm also the one who goes to our audit client board meetings to discuss our audit report. It's not that he CAN'T speak well in a group situation, he just doesn't like to do it. It doesn't bother me. Of course, I've had to learn to control my temper which has always been a problem for me. I tend to say what goes through my head without thinking about it first. But I've just about conquered that demon! That being said, I am quiet when I'm working. I don't like to chit-chat or make small talk when I'm focused on something. I've always felt that was one of my better qualities as an employee.



    If you are not shy I think you will be just fine. In fact, you probably have a near perfect combination. You have the ability to work on your own without the need for outside social stimulation, and you are not shy so when you need to mix it up you can.

    If you were an introvert in the way that I am, I believe it would limit opportunities no matter what career you were in. I am not only introverted, but I am shy to the point of social phobia. I can and do handle social situations as they come up, but I generally hate every minute of it. I will avoid most social situations if I can. If I can't, I usually worry about it for weeks in advance. This is a huge challenge for me, as every job or career involves social interaction of some sort.

    One of the reasons I went into accounting was because it was said to be a good fit for an introvert. This is not at all the case in public accounting. Public accounting is a people focused career. I struggle to do what comes natural to my coworkers, but I have been doing it for 7 years plus.



    Aw this is one of the reasons why I love this forum. Thank you so much everyone for all the feedback. I'm guessing in the entry level positions being somewhat introverted won't be a huge issue. At my old place of employment, it turned out that some people didn't like me because they saw it as if I was choosing work over talking to them it was because I didn't like them. Once I found that out, I started interacting with them a little bit more and they ended up liking me. Not that I care much about everyone liking me but at work I do since it tends to affect your growth potential within the company.

    Since I networked a little during my last semester as an undergrad (Fall 2011) I was able to land two e-board positions within a business honor society on campus for the upcoming year 2012-2013. I am also joining an accounting organization and plan to be as active as I can be. I'm definitely stepping out of my comfort zone but I'm hoping that the more I interact with people, the more I'll get used to it to the point that it will come naturally. I just don't want to limit myself for the sake of feeling comfortable so I just hope I survive this upcoming year and hopefully land a job in public accounting. Once again, thank you all 🙂




    Fellow Floridian! How are ya! lol

    My fiance is EXACTLY the same way! Luckily at Nielsen he doesn't have to interact much except for mandatory meetings and usually then, its just the manager yapping alot and then asking do you have any questions at the end.

    I am the complete opposite of you and him though. But like some others have mentioned, I do not think it will limit you. At the Big4,usually you are a staff accountant doing all the dirty work and your senior does the bitty stuff and socializes lol Their jobs require more socializing then yours.

    If anything I think working at a Big4 would be better b/c at a smaller firm you would definitely have to interact with clients more [you'd also move up the ladder faster than at a Big4 typically].

    And to make you feel even better, as to himself as my fiance is, he just landed a promotion not too long ago! Lol So Introverts can survive the social environment of the work place 🙂



    Introvert =/= awkward and dorky. You don't have to be the life of the party if you can rise to the occasion and be personable when need be. Public accounting is heavy on the personal interaction–luckily, it's 90% one-on-one or few-people-at-a-time. Not too many large crowds or public speaking.

    You'll do fine if you do good work and can interact with one or a few people at once.



    No, in fact it may even help you if you're smart about it.

    Two introverts you may have heard of JFK and Nixon, both had tremendous political skill and the ability to network etc.

    They both preferred to be alone yet when it came time to perform in public were dynamite.

    I really think introverts just have to make more of a conscious effort to be sociable. I'm an introvert myself and I struggle with this but I know it's not impossible if I keep trying.



    Yikes! I'm changing careers from marketing into accounting because I'm an introvert. I'm not shy, just an introvert.

    I plan to work in tax.

    I don't mind working with others, but it takes so much energy to be around others all day, every day, that it literally drains me and wears me out. So, my plan is to be self-employed.

    With a background in marketing, I don't have a problem socializing to get new business, but I can't do it every day or even several days a week.

    I'm hoping that I'll find a good balance when I start working. Right now, I'm studying full-time.

    I'm really good at getting in the “zone” when I work, so I figured tax would be good for me since it requires focus and detail.

    I hope I'm going in the right direction!

    It's great to hear that others have the same types of challenges and concerns.

    Thank you for this question!



    Thank y'all! Maybe I won't have to chance that much after all :). Just like Tux said I don't mind working with others but it does take a lot of energy out of me. I'm thinking Tax would be a better fit for me since I do tend to get “in the zone” when working and since I am already doing my Masters in Tax, in makes sense. Once again, a big thanks to all you introverts out there for sharing your experiences as well as to all you extroverts for understanding us and sharing your opinions!!!

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