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How to Get into Big 4 Audit Firms

big 4 audit firmsFirst thing to remember is that these four companies are the world’s largest and best in their field of expertise; hence it is exceptionally difficult to get in. If you are dead-set that you want to work in one of these elite companies, you must prepare for a long journey.

You need to be an outstanding student at university for any so-called ‘good’ job, or to work in a world-class organisation. However, good grades are just part of the picture, as your employing firm looks at you as a whole person. You must also have people skills and proof of leadership potential. Any prizes, awards, scholarships etc. you ever received should be listed in your resume. Do not be modest as the thousands of other people competing to work in these companies will not be, and you will only be at a disadvantage.

So to start your career in these companies, you must excel at your studies, particularly over the last few years. It is also good to play sports (this shows teamwork skills), and even better if you can say you were a team captain (shows leadership) or won some kind of prize (shows drive). Other activities/hobbies or employments should also be listed. These companies want ambitious people who excel in various activities alongside their university studies. They want people who can work long hours and yet still find a good balance between work, rest and social life.

The first stage in the application process is always an online resume submission and filling of application questions. When filling these questions, give answers from which they can draw that you possess the values which the company seeks. Before submitting your final application, read through every single point to make sure there are no errors whatsoever. This is critical as these companies are strict on attention to detail.

In the next stages you will go through some of the following selection stages: a phone interview, group task assessment, numerical testing, presentation skill testing, and a writing or word comprehension test.

Prepare for each test thoroughly, use various available tools for preparation on the Internet, and don’t be afraid to ask people from the company on tips to prepare. This shows enthusiasm and initiative, and you can bet they will remember who you are.

The final stages are a set of face-to-face interviews. One will be with several top directors/managers/partners (I had one with 10 of them at the same table), and then one with just two high ranking managers. The key thing to remember with these interviews is that they are designed to be daunting. They are designed to scare you and break you psychologically.

Before answering each question, take a deep breath, think your answer through, and give them what they want to hear. Each company wants: someone with numerical skills, teamwork skills, a long-term goal of becoming partner in the company, willing to work long hours and travel, etc.

Always be honest, as this is very important at this stage. When they ask what attracted you to the position, feel free to say it is working hard and long hours for a high reward – amongst other things. When they ask where else you have applied, honestly say the other Big 4 companies. I would highly recommend applying for all of the big 4 at the same time, as this way you will not be nervous in the interviews as you know you have something already in your pocket. It also shows that you are exactly the kind of profile they look for.

Finally, be good with your communication. Speak slowly and clearly, never speak until whoever is speaking has finished, and always formulate your answer before speaking. Good communication can land you the job, as these companies have many programs and openings throughout the year, and if you are rejected in the final round (and for this they will notify you via email!), call them tomorrow to ask ‘What now?’ or ‘When is the next opening?’.

If you are persistent in the long-term, they will give you something, or rather somewhere to start with them i.e. an internal company course. If you stay persistent and perform well, you will surely be able to negotiate your way into a full-time position.

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