We all have goals and ambitions for our careers. Higher education programs such as MBA, CA, CPA, ACCA, CFA, and others need students to choose a graduate path.
A degree is the minimum professional requirement for accounting positions in public, commercial, or military sectors. These days there are different job options open to an accounting graduate.
How Hard Is It To Get Into Big 4 Accounting Firms?
Getting into the Big Four is easy; anyone with an accounting and finance background is eligible to apply, and they typically hire twice a year. After completing the application procedure online, the company will contact you for an interview, followed by a written test (in some scenarios).
In recent years, the Big 4 accounting firms in the United States and worldwide employ accounting graduates. However, securing a job with the company is a daunting task. Now let's talk about these accounting firms and how to get a job there.
What Services Do The Big Four Accounting Firms Provide?
The Big 4 accounting firms are the world's four largest professional services firms, delivering a wide range of services. The following are the details:
- Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC)
- Ernst & Young (EY)
The primary services of the big 4 accounting firms are:
- Auditing and attestation
- Tax consulting
- Internal control, risk and governance services
- Market research
- Other business advisory
Apart from the services above, they also offer corporate financing and legal services. They are in charge of the great majority of audits for both public and private companies.
Where do Big 4 accounting firms recruit?
The big 4 accounting firms recruit candidates through:
- College campuses
- Organization of career fair
- Placement drives
- Through job portals
- Internal referrals
You can also look for job openings on their website's career page.
Various Interview Rounds in Big 4s
To get into the Big 4, a candidate must go through different stages of interviews. Typically, these are:
1. Initial HR interview
In this stage, HR will inquire about the candidate's background, career goals, strengths, and weaknesses. The questions, however, are not restricted to those listed above. When hiring on campuses or at job fairs, the HR team holds group discussions and debates.
2. First Technical round
The Manager/Team Leader with whom the candidate will be working conducts the technical part of the interview. Accounting standards, business law, and taxes, among other things, are required of a candidate. Furthermore, there may be a second or third round of technical interviews, depending on the level at which they hire the candidates.
3. Partner/Director round
The partner/Director is in charge of this round. For entry-level candidates, the interview may or may not take place. This round determines whether the candidate is a good fit for the company. Here, the candidate's behavior is examined and studied.
4. Final HR Round
After completing all the preceding steps, a candidate must present for a final round of interviews with senior HR personnel to be considered for the position. Typically, in this round, HR discusses a candidate's monetary and other expectations and the terms and conditions of employment.
Basic Skills Requirements to get into the Big 4 accounting firms
The following skills are essential for clearing all the levels of interviews and getting into Big 4 firms:
1. Communication Skill
Good communication skill is compulsory for getting into the Big 4 accounting firms. A candidate's mastery of the English language should be excellent (both verbal & written). It is vital for both the HR and technical rounds. Furthermore, good communication is necessary for group discussions.
2. Technical Knowledge
A candidate must thoroughly understand accounting standards, corporate law, and taxes. They should also be aware of recent technical improvements, amendments to relevant acts, and newly issued accounting pronouncements, among other things.
3. Computer Skills
It is another vital skill. You must be knowledgeable of Microsoft Office programs such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Apart from the above skills, one should be well-versed in one's résumé and current events. One should not brag but rather be humble and kind. Also, the candidate should be dressed appropriately for the interview, as this makes a favorable impression on the interviewer.
It is vital to remember that, despite the length and difficulty of the interview process, if a candidate is well prepared and avoids several frequent blunders, he will be successful in the interview. Let's see some typical mistakes and interview questions to avoid.
Cover Letter and Resume mistakes
A Cover Letter and resume are the first contact between an employer and a candidate. Most times, the Big 4 firms have turned down good candidates due to a poorly written cover letter and CV. The cover letter and résumé should be brief, concise, and to the point. Candidates should be aware of the following typical mistakes to avoid:
- Unformatted papers, grammatical flaws, and typos
- Making assertions about oneself that aren't backed up
- Making a novel-length cover letter and resume
- Ignoring crucial details and achievements
- Too much personal information is written.
What Questions Do They Ask In A Big 4 Interview?
For any interview, there are no pre-determined questions. However, due to previous recruiting trends and analyses, you should anticipate some frequently asked questions. The following are some of the details of the Big 4 interview questions and how to answer them:
1. What are your strength and weakness?
This is a frequently asked question in both the HR and technical rounds. For each of your strengths, give specific instances from your experience relevant to the position you seek. Make an effort to spend less time talking about your flaws. Demonstrate what you've learned from them and how you've addressed them.
2. Why do you want to work for the firm?
Show that you've researched the company and understand its culture, primary service lines, and competitors. Candidates must visit the firm's website to gather the necessary information about the firm.
3. Please walk me through your resume
One should be aware of their resume. It must state what is true and accurate. Frequently, candidates include misleading information on their resumes. It becomes a trap for them, and a skilled interviewer can tell whether a candidate is lying.
4. Tell me about yourself
It is yet another common question. Candidate should start with the most recent information and work backward. Followed by information about previous jobs and qualifications, one should include personal information such as family background, interests, etc.
5. Where you would like to see yourself in next 5 years?
The candidate's response to this question reveals their career goals and commitment to a successful career. The best answer would be to excel in the field the candidate would work and progress to the next level.
How To Tackle Interviews If Your GPA Is Low?
The Big 4 conducts multiple rounds of interviews to select the best candidate. They use a grading system in which your academic qualifications and performance in group discussions and the initial HR round have equal weight to help them choose the best candidate. Most times, the companies select individuals for the technical round despite having poor grades.
Consult people who have previously appeared for such interview. Have a mock interview for practice. Examine the most recent subjects and revisions to applicable laws. Candidates are chosen even if their first score is low if the technical team is satisfied. The most crucial criterion for selection will be your confidence on the day of the final interview.
The Big 4 refers to the world's top accounting firms. These multinational corporations need candidates that are well-versed in accounting and are familiar with international accounting standards. As a result, they prefer candidates that are qualified ACCAs or CPAs.
The AICPA Institute offers an international accounting certification called CPA. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants is in charge of the course in the United States and accepts applicants globally. The US CPA program is for applicants who have finished their bachelor's degree in a related discipline and requires a high level of commitment from students.
Another course that gives accounting instruction is the ACCA. The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is a UK-based organization for all Chartered Certified Accountants. The ACCA course is organized into multiple levels and is available to candidates before and after graduation.
This article answers how to get a job at the Big 4 accounting firms? As previously stated, they offer excellent employment opportunities. Working for a Big 4 firm can also aid with general personality development and financial advancement later in your career.
As a result, it is critical for all aspiring candidates interested in a job with the Big 4 to begin interview preparation while they are in their final year of college. Remember that there is no quick fix for success. It's the consequence of a lot of hard work and effort. As a result, everyone must stay focused and work hard to reach the big leagues.