The top value Big 4 firms want to see
We all know what it is like to be in class and the professor asks a question, but it takes years before someone raises their hand to answer. Maybe we don’t want to answer because we are tired, we don’t know the answer, or simply want to take the back seat and “chill”. Whatever the reason may be, it is important to understand the impact this behavior can have in our career.
Big 4 firms are looking for leaders
Big 4 firms constantly emphasize how they are looking to hire and employ individuals with good grades, willingness to learn, and most importantly – transferrable leadership skills. These leadership skills are honed in everyday when we attend lecture or go to a meetings. Think about how you stand out in these situations.
Your interview will include leadership questions
It wasn’t until I was being interviewed by Ernst & Young and Deloitte that I began to change my perspective on who I was as a leader. Often times during an interview you will be asked behavioral questions that begin with “Tell me about a time when/where…..” With these questions, recruiters are attempting to understand certain moments in your life and how you have dealt with them.
For example, one interview question that came up frequently during my Big 4 firms interviews was:
“How you have impacted the mindset of a team you have worked with.”
Of course this is a perfect question regarding leadership!
At this moment, I began to think about when I have truly been in charge or seen as a person of authority in a group. Luckily, I used an example of when I led my Resident Assistant (RA) staff in a scavenger hunt. Although this example is not as lucrative as me being the captain of a team, it still shows how I can apply my ability to guide and direct a group to succeed in a common goal.
What leadership means in a Big 4 environment
After interning with Ernst & Young for two summers, I had been on several client engagement teams, at least three group intern teams, and completed approximately four presentations. All these activities required me to step out in front and influence my peers. I realized that working for this firm and other firms meant being able to take control, guide, and direct your team and clients in the best direction. Qualities such as patience, understanding, adaptive thinking/learning, and passionate all encompass traits of a good leader.
Start taking leadership positions now – it will pay dividends later
Without taking those opportunities to perhaps lead your group in a scavenger hunt, be the president of an organization, or even be the first to answer a question in lecture, it is hard to truly develop the skills sets to lead.
Firms want to see students who are not “chilling” and just getting by. They want people who are taking an active interest and helping to bring about positive change in something that they are passionate about.
Find an opportunity that allows you to make an impact, think from different perspectives, and work with a diverse group of people. You will find that these experiences will enhance your potential to lead, but also allow apply them at your internship.
Leadership can come in many forms is not always designated by words such as “President” and “captain”. As I mentioned above, I lead my staff in a scavenger hunt, but I was not the head RA. It’s all about taking that initiative, very similar to when you take the initiative to raise your hand in class and answer a posing question from your professor.
Developing leadership skills in your undergrad career is truly essential preparation for Big 4 life. You will find that during your Big 4 experience, almost all work is completed as part of a team. Knowing how to communicate with others, respect differences, and motivate your co-workers to be on the same page will all be critical skills for your short and long term career progression.