Big 4 internship recruiting used to have a specific time of the year, but now it’s spreading out and you should begin to consider any event you attend a recruiting opportunity. As you probably know, the Big 4 accounting firms have great internship offerings. They are very structured and during your internship your firm will give you actual responsibilities, unlike many other industries. During the internship recruiting process, you should inquire with each firm about the different internships they offer. Each firm will offer internships in tax and assurance (audit). Many offices will also have internships in transaction services and some will have internships in forensic accounting, which has recently become popular. You should also look into the special programs being offered. Some of the Big 4 accounting firms offer international internships. For example, PwC allows some recruits to intern in the UK, Italy or Germany.
If you’re a Sophomore, you should look into the Sophomore leadership programs being offered. These usually last for a few days and include an office visit. This will allow you to build a relationship with the Big 4. If the firm is impressed with you during this short time, they will invite you back after your Junior year for an internship. Getting in on a Sophomore leadership program is one of the quickest ways to landing a Big 4 internship (and later, a job).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Big 4 accounting recruiting may very well be the most important thing you do in your career. Choosing to pursue a career in Big 4 accounting is a wise decision for any business student to make. You must be careful though. Many students will start recruiting for a Big 4 accounting position without adequately preparing themselves. Students often assume that the process will be like other recruiting experiences they have had. Assuming this is a mistake. Big 4 accounting recruiting is a different breed of recruiting, and thus, must be treated as such.
Your interview will focus on behavioral questions. If you’d like help preparing for these types of questions I highly recommend my Big 4 recruiting guide. Good grades and activities are not enough to get you an internship or a job any longer. Six years ago, accounting firms were recruiting heavily and taking anyone they could because they had to grow quickly to fulfill the new work they were given with Sarbox. Now, the Big 4 are able to be much more selective about their hiring and thus, Big 4 recruiting is as competitive as ever. I’d love to help you get that prestigious job you deserve!