The new 2013 edition of my eBook is now out and I just wanted to make a post to briefly talk about some the shifts we’ve been seeing in the recruiting practices of the Big 4 accounting firms (Deloitte, KPMG, PwC, and EY). In 2009, some of the firms let go of a number of employees. Others held onto their employees and stuck by their people. However, no matter which firm you look at, recruiting and job offers were down in 2009. All of this downsizing meant that the same amount of work had to be done by fewer Big 4 employees. During 2009 and the first-half of 2010, Big 4 accounting employees were overworked. They worked long hours and didn’t see much in the way of raises. Because of this, there’s been an exodus of Big 4 employees leaving the industry. As the Big 4 came to the realization that their people strategies weren’t working and that their compensation was below market (as demonstrated by the high number of employees leaving), the firms have been increasing salaries and providing spot-bonuses. Some of the firms are offering 10% raises on salaries for experienced hires coming from other Big 4 firms.
So, you’re probably wondering… “What does this mean for me?” Well, it means that 2013 is going to be one of the most intense recruiting seasons we’ve have in a few years. During the 2009 to 2010 range there was a growing number of well-qualified applicants for a shrinking number of job openings. But that trend has definitely changed. All of the firms have growth goals FY2013.
Knowing that the Big 4 are going to be out there waiving more job offers around isn’t reason for you to get lazy. It’s as important as ever to be on top of your game. Not only will you need to be prepared academically, but you should be prepared for the interviews and meet & greets. You’ll need to nail each aspect of the recruiting process in order to get that job offer. I’ve just put the finishing touches on my 2013 Big 4 Recruiting Secrets guide and I gotta say, I’m excited about this one. I’ve learned a lot over the past few years and I’m excited to share with you.
Whether you decide to buy the guide or not, I wish you the best of luck in this upcoming recruiting seasons. It’s going to be an exciting one, I can tell you that.
I can’t even tell you how many people have emailed me asking to know the top Big 4 interview questions. As you can guess, the questions that you’ll be asked during your interview is very dependent on the person interviewing you. Often it’s a partner that does the first round interviews. Occasionally, a recruiter may handle your interview. Either way, different people have different questions that they typically asked. So, to help you guys out I spoke with three people at my firm who interviewed people for full-time positions and internships this past year. I told them that I was interested in being involved in the recruiting process some more and casually asked them what are some of the interview questions they like to ask.
It might surprise you to know that they often don’t ask a single accounting-related question during the first round. Below are a number of the questions that the partners told me they ask:
- “Tell me about a time when you worked in a group, either at school or at a previous job, when things didn’t work as smoothly as you had hoped.” They will often then follow up with something such as: “And how did you handle this?” Follow up questions will depend a lot on your answer, but to prepare you should have at least one solid experience in mind.
- Why do you want to work in auditing/tax/financial services? What do you know about it?
- What was your most favorite class you took in college and why?
- Which accounting classes have you taken?
- What do you think makes you a better candidate than some of the others I have interviewed today?
- How do you currently balance school and life commitments?
- Have to been in any campus clubs or groups?
- Have you applied and interviewed with any of the Big 4?
Remember, during the interview your interviewer is obviously going to ask you a number of questions and this isn’t a complete list by any means. However, you should also be prepared to ask them questions also. Take the time to learn more about the job and the firm. Good luck at your Big 4 accounting interview!
If you found this information helpful, you may want to check out the Big 4 Recruiting Secrets.
Many of you have been contacting me for details regarding a Big 4 internship. A lot of the time you want to know the Big 4 internship salary. Yes, these internships are paid. The Big 4 accounting firms not only pay for their internships, but they pay well. You will actually be making more money than a first year associate. You will make approximately $23/hr during your internship (this is the rate of a first-year employee). However, unlike a salaried employee, you will also have the opportunity to earn overtime. During my internship I was working a bit of overtime, and was more than willing because I was being paid $34/hr. If you get an internship, you are basically guaranteed to receive a job offer unless you really mess up. The job offer is yours to lose. This past year was a little different for some of the firms. I heard that KPMG only offered jobs to 60% of its interns in some offices. PwC and EY, however, were around 90% across the board. Usually you have to get poor ratings to not get a job (especially when we aren’t in a recession). The Big 4 internship gives you a great opportunity to see what it’s like to work in the industry because you will have the same responsibilities as a new associate. So if you’re still in college and thinking of pursuing accounting, I highly recommend that you aim for a Big 4 internship because this is the best way to secure a job offer. Good luck!