I am really frustrated, I have started my research for my master thesis 6 months ago and I have to submit the final draft after 2 months.
I was interested in a specific topic and I looked for a supervisor with the same research interests.
I was looking for something related to internet security (Botnet Detection); luckily, my supervisor gave me a research plan exactly about what I wanted to do. However, a month later and after I submitted the proposal and started to read deeply about the topic; I found that exactly the same research had already done by another two PhD students and what I was supposed to do was 100% repeating what they already had done 2 years ago.
I directly contacted my supervisor explaining to him the situation. I discovered that my research plan is exactly the same (word by word, someone copied from other). Moreover, the topic itself is very specific and is not easy to build or modify on it, he said "No problem, you just repeat it and we will try to slightly modify something.", then he added "If you can not do that, it is enough to repeat it." and I just agreed (trying to be positive and avoiding problems).
Now, after I started my writing I found myself repeating the same ideas and the same experiments, the same statements and the same conclusions. Later on, I discovered that this research supposed to be done by adviser with the group who already published the work and for some reasons they excluded him.
In short, the supervisor did not mention that this work is already published and did not mention that he was team member with them.
What I shall do?
Now I feel this work is 100% not original and I will not add and contribute anything. I am not feeling happy by wasting my time doing something like that.
Shall I escalate the story to the general adviser for master's students? Should I change the topic or should I continue and defend others work claiming that this is my own work?
I am not scared of rejecting my thesis, I am totally not satisfied about what I do write now. I am doing my masters to add something to my knowledge, experience and to feel really I will be one step a head.
Note: I work in industry field and I have no experience in academic and research fields.
Need interview prep? We’ve got you covered.
With the start of a new academic year, we know that finance interviews are again at the forefront of many of your minds. Over the next few months, we’ll be publishing most frequently asked technical finance interview questions and answers across a variety of topics – accounting (in this issue), valuation, corporate finance – to get you prepared. If you’re looking for interview prep resources beyond this article, be sure to take a look at our Interview Prep training package.
Before we get to accounting questions, here are some interview best practices to keep in mind when getting ready for the big day.
Finance interview best practices
Be prepared for technical questions.
Many students erroneously believe that if they are not finance/business majors, then technical questions do not apply to them. On the contrary, interviewers want to be assured that students going into the field are committed to the work they’ll be doing for the next few years, especially as many finance firms will devote considerable resources to mentor and develop their new employees.
One recruiter we’ve spoken to said “while we do not expect liberal arts majors to have a deep mastery of highly technical concepts, we do expect them to understand the basic accounting and finance concepts as they relate to investment banking. Someone who can’t answer basic questions like ‘walk me through a DCF’ has not sufficiently prepared for the interview, in my opinion”.
Another added, “Once a knowledge gap is identified, it’s typically very difficult to reverse the direction of the interview.”
It’s ok to say “I don’t know” a few times during the interview. If interviewers think that you’re making up answers, they’ll continue probing you further.
Keep each of your answers limited to 2 minutes.
Longer answers may lose an interviewer, while giving them additional ammunition to go after you with more complicated question on the same topic.
It’s ok to say “I don’t know” a few times during the interview. If interviewers think that you’re making up answers, they’ll continue probing you further, which will lead to more creative answers, which will lead to more complicated questions and a slow realization by you that interviewer knows that you don’t really know. This will be followed by uncomfortable silence. And no job offer.
Finance interview questions: accounting
Accounting is the language of business, so don’t underestimate the importance of accounting-related finance interview questions. Some are easy, some are more challenging, but of all of them allow interviewers to gauge your knowledge level without the need to ask more complex valuation/finance questions.Below we have selected most common accounting questions you should expect to see during the recruiting process.
Q: Why do capital expenditures increase assets (PP&E), while other cash outflows, like paying salary, taxes, etc., do not create any asset, and instead instantly create an expense on the income statement that reduces equity via retained earnings?
A: Capital expenditures are capitalized because of the timing of their estimated benefits – the lemonade stand will benefit the firm for many years. The employees’ work, on the other hand, benefits the period in which the wages are generated only and should be expensed then. This is what differentiates an asset from an expense.
Q: Walk me through a cash flow statement.
A. Start with net income, go line by line through major adjustments (depreciation, changes in working capital and deferred taxes) to arrive at cash flows from operating activities.
- Mention capital expenditures, asset sales, purchase of intangible assets, and purchase/sale of investment securities to arrive at cash flow from investing activities.
- Mention repurchase/issuance of debt and equity and paying out dividends to arrive at cash flow from financing activities.
- Adding cash flows from operations, cash flows from investments, and cash flows from financing gets you to total change of cash.
- Beginning-of-period cash balance plus change in cash allows you to arrive at end-of-period cash balance.
Q: What is working capital?
A: Working capital is defined as current assets minus current liabilities; it tells the financial statement user how much cash is tied up in the business through items such as receivables and inventories and also how much cash is going to be needed to pay off short term obligations in the next 12 months.
Q: Is it possible for a company to show positive cash flows but be in grave trouble?
A: Absolutely. Two examples involve unsustainable improvements in working capital (a company is selling off inventory and delaying payables), and another example involves lack of revenues going forward in the pipeline.
Q: How is it possible for a company to show positive net income but go bankrupt?
A: Two examples include deterioration of working capital (i.e. increasing accounts receivable, lowering accounts payable), and financial shenanigans.
Q: I buy a piece of equipment, walk me through the impact on the 3 financial statements.
A: Initially, there is no impact (income statement); cash goes down, while PP&E goes up (balance sheet), and the purchase of PP&E is a cash outflow (cash flow statement)
Over the life of the asset: depreciation reduces net income (income statement); PP&E goes down by depreciation, while retained earnings go down (balance sheet); and depreciation is added back (because it is a non-cash expense that reduced net income) in the cash from operations section (cash flow statement).
Q: Why are increases in accounts receivable a cash reduction on the cash flow statement?
A: Since our cash flow statement starts with net income, an increase in accounts receivable is an adjustment to net income to reflect the fact that the company never actually received those funds.
Q: How is the income statement linked to the balance sheet?
A: Net income flows into retained earnings.
Q: What is goodwill?
A: Goodwill is an asset that captures excess of the purchase price over fair market value of an acquired business. Let’s walk through the following example: Acquirer buys Target for $500m in cash. Target has 1 asset: PPE with book value of $100, debt of $50m, and equity of $50m = book value (A-L) of $50m.
- Acquirer records cash decline of $500 to finance acquisition
- Acquirer’s PP&E increases by $100m
- Acquirer’s debt increases by $50m
- Acquirer records goodwill of $450m
Q: What is a deferred tax liability and why might one be created?
A: Deferred tax liability is a tax expense amount reported on a company’s income statement that is not actually paid to the IRS in that time period, but is expected to be paid in the future. It arises because when a company actually pays less in taxes to the IRS than they show as an expense on their income statement in a reporting period.
Differences in depreciation expense between book reporting (GAAP) and IRS reporting can lead to differences in income between the two, which ultimately leads to differences in tax expense reported in the financial statements and taxes payable to the IRS.
Q: What is a deferred tax asset and why might one be created?
A: Deferred tax asset arises when a company actually pays more in taxes to the IRS than they show as an expense on their income statement in a reporting period.
- Differences in revenue recognition, expense recognition (such as warranty expense), and net operating losses (NOLs) can create deferred tax assets.
I hope you enjoyed this article and found these finance interview questions hepful. Please feel free to add any comments or recommendations in the comments section below.
Good luck in your interview!