Johnathan Culbreath signed on for the 2010 Leaders’ Institute looking to get some interview experience before he graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). He got that, but before the summer was over, he had a job.
Culbreath graduated from VCU in May 2011 and will start a job with Johnson Lambert & Co. LLP in October. His first contact with the firm came at the Leaders’ Institute, and he did well enough that a mock interview turned into a real one.
“I wasn’t even planning on doing the mock interview section, seeing as I’d had lots of interviews,” Culbreath said. “I also didn’t want to get down there that early. But a friend of mine who was also going convinced me to do it with her. I ended up getting Johnson Lambert in my mock interview. It’s funny because when I had my interview, [the interviewer] gave me lots of pointers and tips. She gave me so much advice — I guess you’d call it constructive criticism — that I didn’t think I did that well.”
That interviewer was Katie Tibbitts, a recruiter at Johnson Lambert. She was impressed enough to recommend him for a second interview with the company, and he did well enough in that phone session to score a job as a staff auditor.
“I remember when I spoke with him, he was very eager to learn,” Tibbitts said. “He was excited to be involved with the mock interview and very accepting of all criticism, if any, that I had. He seemed very open to learning, what we had to say and who we were. He just seemed like a very outgoing guy, someone who could really fit at Johnson Lambert.”
“He just seemed to have a very good level-headedness about him,” said Sara Huddleston, the director of human resources at Johnson Lambert who conducted Culbreath’s second interview. “He seemed to be the type of person who could hold a conversation with varying personalities, and that’s very important in our business. He had a lot of good questions and was very interested in our business.”
Culbreath is currently working an internship with the Maymont Foundation in Richmond, helping with their year-end reviews and working with fixed assets. He says that experience will serve him well at Johnson Lambert, which does extensive work with nonprofits.
“I thought it would be valuable to see the inside of a nonprofit association,” he said.
Culbreath will work at Johnson Lambert’s Falls Church office, not far from his Woodbridge home. He is currently studying for the CPA Exam and plans on taking — and passing — at least two parts by the time he starts his job.
Culbreath developed some of his interview chops at the Leaders’ Institute and got the chance to show them off to the company that helped him improve. His interview with Tibbitts went so well that he didn’t even notice that he took her tips to heart.
“A lot of the tips she gave me had to do with pre-interview preparation,” he said. “I definitely used a lot of the advice she gave me. The funny thing was that I was a lot more comfortable, so I didn’t even realize what I was using.”