Very few job interviews are particularly interesting. Microsoft and Google are known to have fairly unique interviews, and companies like Starbucks expect every employee (regardless of job) to have an understanding of coffee that they test during the interview. Otherwise, most other companies go the traditional route, asking a series of questions that are designed to assess an applicant’s ability to do their job.
Recently, we at Everyday Interview Tips noticed a string of articles related to how to interview for the “Big Four.” You would think that the Big Four have an interesting interview type of their own considering the press that they get. Apparently that is not true.
What Are “The Big Four?”
The Big Four is a term given to the four largest accounting and auditing firms in the world (PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche USA, Ernst & Young, and KPMG). These companies combine to employ a staff of 611,000, many of them professional accountants. They interview at colleges around the globe to find quality auditing experts directly out of college. They also sometimes like to pick their employees directly from internships.
What Are Big Four Interviews Like?
Even though they often interview together at colleges, they don’t interview using the same methods. In general you can expect a phone interview, followed by a first interview and second interview. In some cases there is a lunch/networking/social event that occurs before the second interview. There you will network with other applicants and recent hires.
Interviews are often a combination of behavioral interview questions and questions about your work history, including why you did (or did not, if recruited from elsewhere) decide to consider one of the Big Four firms.
Is There Anything Special to Know About the Big Four Interviews?
Again, the Big Four interviews are not tremendously different than any other type of job interview. You are being judged on your ability to answer both traditional and behavioral interview questions. You have a first and second interview. Your technical knowledge will be tested slightly, as will your job interview experience. Still, there are some tips to help you improve your chances at Big Four job interviews:
- Lunch is Still Part of the Interview – Don’t let your guard down simply because you are eating and networking with other applicants and recent hires. This is all part of your job interview. Be personable and friendly like any lunch, but answer questions with a professionalism and thought just as you would a regular job interview. You should eat as professionally as you act, with proper manners.
- Read Up on Current Events – Some of the interviewers like to ask about current events, including accounting related events. It’s a good idea to brush up on your news before the job interview so that you can engage in these conversations.
- Come Up With Brilliant Questions – These are some of the largest businesses in the world. It is impossible to not have good questions for them, since they are affected by almost literally every aspect of the current economy. Ask them great questions.
- Expect Case Interviews for MBA Positions – For some positions you may be asked case job interview questions, so be ready to provide logical, thought provoking ways of solving the problems they supply you with.
- Internships Are Common – If you don’t have an interview with the Big Four yet, see how wiling you are to intern. Internships are rampant with the Big Four, and a great way to find employment with them afterward.
Providing Big Four interview tips is a little misleading. The truth is that with the exception of the lunch meeting that occurs with candidates, the interviews themselves are only of moderate difficulty and do not really contain any unique questions or interviewing styles.
Still, there are thousands of these interviews conducted every year, and they play a significant part in the lives of auditors and support staff across the globe. The best advice is to simply study up on standard job interview tips, including dressing appropriately, preparing answers for expected questions, remaining positive, etc. if you do all of those – including while you are at the lunch – you will give yourself a good opportunity to land a job with the Big Four.
Take Away Interview Tips
- Big Four interviews are not terribly different than other job interviews.
- Be ready to impress during the lunch.
- Study standard job interview tips and strategies.