I’m sure you’ve heard that one of the best starts a college graduate can get is with one of the Big 4 accounting firms (PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Deloitte). Because they are so coveted, these jobs are often difficult to obtain. Below is a small list of the leading characteristics that Big 4 recruiters look for.

Education
Your education is one of the first things that a Big 4 recruiting is going to look at. There are strict academic requirements that must be fulfilled in order to become a CPA. You should aim the meet the minimum credit requirements needed (150 semester units). An educational background in accounting or business will help, but it isn’t necessary if you go to a top school. Recruiters will also look at your GPA. A high GPA won’t guarantee you the job, but a low GPA can absolutely keep you from consideration.

Communication Skills
After determining that you meet the firm’s education requirements, the recruiter will look for you to demonstrate adequate communication skills. Because accounting is a service industry, people skills are considered very important. As an employee you will be expected to communicate effectively with client personnel. Your responsibility is to maintain the professional appearance that the firm aims to deliver. If you’re lacking proper communication skills it is likely that you won’t receive your job, regardless of your education and other qualifications.

Quick Thinking
Big 4 recruiters are going to want to see how quick you are on your feet. During the recruiting process they are likely to attempt to throw a few curveballs at you to see how you field them. Chances are, you won’t be asked any accounting-specific questions. These questions are likely to come from your resume or other information you have told them. Sometimes clients will ask you questions that you don’t know the answer too. You’ll have to tell them: “I hadn’t considered that. Let me look at it further and get back to you.” This shows your ability to think quickly and field difficult questions, particularly when you don’t know the answer.

Diverse Experience
Accounting isn’t only about memorizing accounting rules and regulations. Accounting firms want you to have a deeper understanding about the business and its industry. If you’ve taken a diverse selection of classes and have had a number of unique life experiences, this will have a positive impact on your application.

If you embody all of these characteristics, you have a good chance of getting a job with the Big 4 account firms. If you’re missing one of these, you’re going to have a more difficult time obtaining that Big 4 job you want. If you’re currently lacking in some of these areas, you can make up for it with the Big 4 Insider Recruiting Secrets guide. It’s worth paying for in order to secure your position with the Big 4. The guide gives you the leg up you need in order to have a successful recruitment period. I wish you the best of luck!

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