While this blog posts is not meant to be comprehensive, I do want to cover what I consider to be the typical Big 4 interview questions that Big 4 interviewers use. As a career professional, you should always be looking to improve your job interview skills. These questions that I am going to share with you today, primarily come with the first interview. The first interview could either be face-to-face or even a phone interview. Interviewing is a career skill that you will need to develop just like any others. Get familiar with your core competencies and be ready to share them at any time.
In case you are just beginning your accounting career, the Big 4 includes the following accounting firms: Deloitte, Ernst & Young, PWC (PriceWaterhouse Coopers), and KPMG. If you are able to, it is a great idea to start your accounting career with one of these public accounting firms. It will set your career up nicely. Of course, it really all depends on what your career goals are to begin with.
Typical Big 4 Interview Questions
This list of Big 4 job interview questions is compiled from books, articles, coaching calls, and over 8 years of headhunting experience. You may or may not hear these questions. However, these questions have been known to be asked in interviews with the above mentioned firms.
They are divided into two sections: typical interview questions and competency based interview questions.
Some of the more common interview questions include:
- How do you structure your time at college while still maintaining a balanced personal life?
- Describe for me a difficult experience that you went through and how you handled it?
- Name for me a few of your strengths.
- What do you know about the public accounting business?
- Tell me how you see the role of a college graduate at KPMG (or other firm).
- Have you ever had a deadline changed? How do you adapt?
- Why would you want to work for PWC over the other Big 4 firms?
- List for me a few of your major achievements.
- Have you applied to any other public accounting firms?
- Where do your see your career heading in the next 5 years?
- Name for me a few things that you like to do in your spare time.
The interviewer will also often ask competency based interview questions as well. These force you to explain how you react and make decisions. They also test your commercial awareness. They want to see if you have a passion for the industry and want to stay on top of accounting trends. Most often, you will have to provided examples.
- What do you see yourself doing during your first year at E&Y (or other firm)?
- Are you able to name any recent news developments that have strongly affected the accounting industry as a whole?
- Tell me about a time when you have had to work in a team environment to accomplish a goal.
- Give me two or more examples of when you were in a conflict and how you were able to resolve it.
- Can you provide an example to me of when you lead a team?
Competency based questions can be trickier to answer, but the more you practice the better you will be. Remember, there is more to the process then just the first interview. You will also more than likely face a partner interview and an online test. If you are facing a Big 4 interview in the days ahead, take some time to rehearse the above mentioned Big 4 interview questions during your preparation time. It is better to be over prepared than under prepared for an accounting interview! I hope these interview tips and techniques are helpful to you.