5 quick tips for crushing your next Big 4 interview

Whether you’re going into your first or 100th Big 4 interview, there are some simple things you can do to improve your state of mind, confidence, and energy levels before the interview fun begins. Implement the 5 quick tips below for your next interview and you’ll be on the Partner track in no time: Don’t drive! If your interview is on the other side of campus or a nearby city that you’re planning on driving to… don’t! Everyone hates parking, looking for meters, losing your car in a garage somewhere, getting lost etc… It’s 2016 – take a cab / Uber / Lyft, or take your city’s public transportation. It reduces stress because you’re not worried about everything mentioned above, and you have brain space to do whatever works for you – whether that’s rehearsing some of your potential answers or listening to some jams to help clear your head.  Show up early, but not too early. Everyone has a different style here, but I always liked being at least 30 minutes early to the general vicinity of my interview, finding a Starbucks nearby to do a quick mental reset, and doing something like reviewing my resume / practicing answers, or reading the paper to get have more ammo for office small talk. Then I’d walk over to the building so that I arrived ~ten minutes before I was scheduled for my first interview. Ten minutes should be plenty of time to check in and get to whatever room I need to be in, but not so early where you’re awkwardly sitting around for half the day.  Do SOMETHING active in the morning No need to run a casual...

7 Values-Based PwC Interview Questions (Audit, Tax, Advisory)

  Over the years, PwC has developed its interview questions in part to assess how candidates fit within a set of core values and capabilities. These core values are applicable across all service lines. PwC defines these values and capabilities as:   Values: We enhance value (through quality) We invest in relationships We share and collaborate We put ourselves in each other’s shoes Capabilities: Manage projects and economics Acquire and apply commercial and technical expertise Build and sustain relationships Be passionate about client service Lead and contribute to team success Communicate with impact and empathy Develop self and others through coaching   PwC takes these seriously, and they will show up everywhere you look (both before and after you are hired) – recruiting events, training, performance reviews etc. Below are some of the more frequently asked interview questions related to its values and capabilities:   Value Capability Interview question We enhance value (through quality) Manage projects and economics Walk me through a situation in which you asked questions of several people for the information you needed to make an effective decision. How did you know who and what to ask? Acquire and apply commercial and technical expertise Describe a project, situation, or assignment that challenged your skills as a _________. How did you manage the situation? We invest in relationships Build and sustain relationships Tell me about a time when you had to reach out to others with whom you were unfamiliar for assistance. What did you do? Be passionate about client service How do you build collaborative relationships with peers or customers? Give me details about one or two...

Summer Accounting Firm Recruiting Tips

Good luck to those who are able to attend summer events with the accounting firms of your choice! Hopefully you are able to make some connections and get a good feel for the culture and environment of the different offices. Here’s a few tips to make the most of the office visits, leadership programs, and social events the firms are putting on. 1) Have fun and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. These events can be fun, at least I had fun at mine. You should be genuinely enjoying yourself and having good conversations.  Being stiff and uptight is not the image you want to give off. Try to relax and forget that your professional future is being determined by your performance at the event. If you didn’t get invited to an event (yet) then reach out to all of your contacts you have made via meet the firms or networking events, and just send them a simple email saying something like: “Hey ____, I wanted to check in and see if your office was doing any summer office tours or leadership programs. I really enjoyed meeting with you and would love the chance to hear more about your office.” If for some reason you haven’t yet made any contacts, reach out to your professors or career center and ask them to get you in contact with the firms. It’s really important to build connections as soon as possible and as many as possible. These summer recruiting events are probably full but they may can make an exception or someone may have a change of plans. If you don’t ask, you won’t...

Getting a Summer Accounting Internship

Many of you may be scrambling around trying to find a summer internship, so that you can hopefully secure a full time offer, while also making pretty decent money. If you’re just starting to look now, your at a pretty big disadvantage.. you see most offers for summer internships are given out up to a year in advance. But, there is still hope. You will have to be pretty proactive, because they are surely not going to just come to you. Keep in mind timing  Different firms do different things at each office, but the most typical progression (for the US) is: Fall of your senior year: Interview with the firms and accept an offer to start the summer after your senior year and you’ve graduated. Once you complete your internship, you will likely be given an offer to start full time a year later, after you’ve completed your 1 year masters program. This is obviously dependent on your situation, because some people may not do a masters program, and some others may do a 2 year program. The thing to keep in mind is to explain your plan. When talking to a recruiter or someone who comes to campus, the first thing we’re trying to figure out is what category to put you in – full time, intern, or keep in touch for next year when you’re ready for an internship. So what is important is that it is less likely that they give you an internship if you have 2 years to work after the internship. Winter internships (Jan-March) are a little different because they require you to take a semester...

A Look Into the Big 4 Accounting Firms

Big 4 Accounting Firms The big 4 accounting firms lead the pack in terms of their auditing and accounting services which include things like taxation services risk assessment and control, external audit, etc. Not only do they provide excellent auditing and accounting services but they also offer massive employment opportunities to auditors and accountants in their many different offices located all over the world. These big 4 accounting firms are the very best at what they do and are constantly involved in a race as to who can provide the best services and post the biggest revenue by the end of the fiscal year. It is no small wonder why these top 4 often end up competing for the top slots and this is especially true for the top two. Interesting History of the Big 4 Accounting Firms This list used to be the Big 8 but several mergers and dissolutions whittled the number down to just the big 4 accounting firms. It was by way of mergers and dissolutions that the number was reduced to what it is now. The mergers that took place to make the final list are mentioned below but one company is not mentioned and it is Arthur Anderson. This company’s failure is credited to its involvement with that Enron Scandal that shook the US and the world several years back. The company took such a big blow that they have been unable to stage a comeback to become the massive accounting firm that they were for so many years. It is interesting to note how the top accounting firms would combine their business...

Accounting vs Finance: Part 4 – The work

To wrap up this 4 part series, I want to go into a little about the actual work itself and what you will be doing. Per usual, I will compare some typical roles in accounting with the typical roles in finance or banking. Accounting Audit In audit, your goal is ultimately to issue an opinion on a set of financial statements of a company. What this means is that for every item on a financial statement you have to dig down into every single sub account within that account, and make sure that each of those accounts are correct. It ends up being like inception where there are a ton of subaccounts, but in the end you have to have enough comfort that the account as whole isn’t crazy off so investors can trust the numbers (we call that free of material (or lage) misstatements). What you will be doing as an early staff is doing a lot of testing of these accounts. For example the company has an expense account of 10M made up of consulting fees. The client would give you a list of every charge during the period that makes up a total of 10M. You would then use the audit software to select a random sample of those charges, lets say 25 to test. For each of those you choose to test, you will get the client to provide you an invoice from the consulting fiem, a copy of the check the company wrote to them, and then show the check clearing their bank account. If they all check out, the test is completed and the consulting fees...

Deloitte Interview Questions and Answers

The interview questions that Deloitte, and all other Big 4 firms (KPMG, Ernst & Young, PwC) tend to ask of prospective employees can be similar, even across the world.  Part of doing your homework before the interview is discovering those questions and putting together some answers in the event you get asked them. There are of course an unlimited amount of questions that could be asked, but if you focus on the questions that get asked most frequently, and start to think about how you might respond, you can have a real advantage. I’ve been there first hand – you get in the interview and they ask you a question like “tell me about a time when you had to challenge the authority of someone above you.”  I couldn’t think of an answer. I thought for a few minutes, made a weird chuckle and said “umm… I really can’t think of anything.” As you can imagine, this is not ideal. When you’re stressed and uncomfortable in an interview, you simply aren’t able to think as clearly, particularly when trying to reflect on your past and produce an example that somehow presents you in a positive light. What you should do is take the time to come up with the answers to these questions while you have the time (which is now while you’re reading this post). Even if you don’t get asked that exact question, you may have a similar question asked that you can still apply that example to. I interviewed a Manager at Deloitte about the interview questions that are the most frequent and he provided me...

Winter vs Summer Big 4 Internships (Deloitte, KPMG, EY, & PwC)

How to decide between Winter and Summer Internships with the Big 4   If you are trying to decide between a summer or winter internship with a big 4 (KPMG, Deloitte, Pwc, or E&Y) or public accounting firm, there are a few things you need to consider. Honestly it doesn’t make a big difference between the two time periods, because you’ll most likely get an offer as long as you have a good attitude and don’t screw everything up. We don’t expect a lot from interns, and I don’t mean that in a negative way, but there is a big learning curve and we don’t really invest a ton of time into development because you’ll only be there for a few months. There is still a lot of training of course, but generally interns aren’t given really tough tasks that would require serious thought. So do your best and you’ll be fine. The biggest distinction between the two periods of time is that in the summer, there is really not a huge demand for interns. Most of the work for audit and tax is around the winter, though there are exceptions. The winter interns (January-March) will be the busiest and will have more than the summer interns due to the client workload. We work crazy hours during busy season, and usually (hopefully) it gets to a more normal schedule in the summer, where we are planning the year end audits and doing quarterly reviews. For audit are plenty of clients that have a 6/30/12 “year end” (instead of 12/31/12, which is what makes us make us busy January-March) which...

How to be a Public Accounting Audit Intern Pro

Congratulations on getting an internship. Public accounting is a great start to your career and will be great on your resume whether you continue to pursue public accounting or otherwise. What you will be doing: Interns are a prized possession by audit teams because they will do they the tasks that no one else wants to do. This doesn’t mean that the tasks are difficult or hard, but rather just the opposite. It’s fitting for the intern to have these kinds of responsibilities because they are often tasks that do not need a lot of instruction. Here are a few of the most common tasks (and how to be a pro at them). 1) Placing orders for lunch/dinner, and picking it up/having it delivered. When we are confined to a conference room for countless hours of the day, the absolute best part of the day is eating. Plenty of (billed) hours are spent scouring the online menu for the perfect meals, just slightly under the price threshold. How to be a pro: Develop a system, and stick to it. The most common method for interns placing food orders is either through the firm’s instant messenger or through email. You’ll likely start with sending out menu to everyone. Make sure to send out the menu, not the website. For example, instead of qdoba.com take the extra 2 seconds and find the menu online and send out  http://www.qdoba.com/menu-nutrition. Write down their order or print out their emails. Do a completeness check. Completeness in audit means making sure that everything that should be included, is included. So completeness of a food order means DONT FORGET ANYONE. If the...

Keys to being a Top-Rated 1st Year accountant

This is a summary of things that I wish I had known going into my first year, or maybe I was told and should have payed more attention. For many of these you have heard them before but I wanted to actually add some value so I gave you actual ways you can put them into practice. If you have any additional suggestions feel free to add to the discussion in the comments below. If you’re still in the process of trying to get an job as a first year,  check out the Big 4 Blueprint where I explain the top Deloitte, PwC, KPMG, and EY interview questions and answers to ensure you have the best chance of getting an offer. 1) Do not be afraid to ask questions Public accounting is a pull, not a push learning environment. You are not expected to know what you are doing and lots and lots of questions are expected. There is nothing more frustrating than to give an “easy” task to a first year and then come back and they are still trying to figure it out. Suck up your pride. It doesn’t mean you’re dumb – you probably don’t have all the information or don’t know where to look to get the required information. It’s ok if you need help or clarification. Sitting and staring at the workpaper because you don’t know how to approach it or got stuck at some point isn’t good for anyone. One caveat to this is with excel formulas. If you are having trouble figuring out a vlookup or if/then ect, use google. There will ALWAYS be a clearly...
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