How to prepare for an interview at the Big 4? Here's a step by step guide for CA freshers.

How to prepare for an interview at the big 4

It’s certainly difficult to pass the Chartered Accountancy exam, but getting recruited by your dream company or a CA firm is also not a piece of cake.

Working at the Big 4 is the dream of most freshly qualified Chartered Accountants, but many of them don’t have an idea about the process of joining.

There are many rounds of interviews that you have to face.

Let’s understand the whole process of getting into the Big 4.

How do you get selected at the Big 4

First Step: Sending Resume

Do you know why preparing a good resume is important?

Because it’s your resume which reaches the organization before you. 

If your resume is good, only then you are going to get a call for an interview from the organization. Hence do extensive research and prepare your resume accordingly.

There is a quote which you should keep in mind while preparing your resume, “A resume should not be a kitchen sink of your entire career; rather a focused narrative describing why you’re a solid fit for your targeted role at the Company.”

Second Step: Telephonic Screening

Once your resume gets shortlisted by the organization’s HR, you’ll receive a screening call from them. They’ll ask you some basic details about yourself, and the assignments you completed during your articleship and you could be shortlisted for the interview.

Third Step: Written Test / Group Discussion

Sometimes the Big 4 gives you a written test or asks you to appear for the GD round. However, what I observed so far post-covid, is that Big 4s skip these steps and usually arrange a direct interview for you.

How many interview rounds are there in the Big 4? 

If you prove your eligibility by completing all the steps we discussed, then you’ll be called for the interview.

Generally, you have to face Three Rounds of interviews at the Big 4 firms. 

First Round: Managerial Round

Second Round: Big 4 Partner Round

Third & the last Round: HR Round

Let’s understand all of these ones by one.

In the Managerial Round, the manager will ask you questions related to your profile and your articleship experience. In this round, your practical knowledge and your understanding of the concepts from the CA course are going to be tested. Your confidence and attitude also play an important role in the interview.

Here are my suggestions if you are preparing for the 'Big 4 Interview':

  1. Write only true facts in your resume. 
  2. Do read the Job Description mentioned in the mail for the interview.
  3. Follow a proper dress code in the Interview. Don’t choose bright colours. Keep your dress and hairstyle simple with a minimal makeup look (For women). 
  4. Always be on time.
  5. Pay attention to your sitting posture.
  6. Don’t be over-confident.
  7. You shouldn’t be under-confident either, as confidence is an important factor in any type of Interview.
  8. Always keep a hint of a smile on your face.
  9. It’s okay if you don’t know a certain answer, just say politely that you don’t know or you’re not sure about it, but don’t try to give a made-up answer.

What are some common questions asked in a Big 4 interview?

The interview will contain a blend of technical and behavioural questions.

In the technical round, they’ll test your knowledge and the questions will be based on the profile for which you are giving the Interview.

Let’s say that you are giving an interview for the Statutory Audit role, then the questions will be along the lines of the work you performed while conducting audits during your articleship.

They’ll also ask questions on Accounting Standards (AS) & Ind-AS, SAs, Materiality Level, assertions and type of assertions, type of opinions, etc.

If you are giving the interview for the Direct Taxation profile, then they’ll ask you questions on MAT and AMT provisions, TDS provisions, deductions, allowances and disallowances, assessment and filing, advance tax, capital gains, etc.

You should also study the latest finance act if you’re appearing for a direct taxation interview.

After clearing the first round of interviews, you'll be called for the second round with a Big 4 Partner. This round is an important step in your hiring process.

In this interview too, both technical and behavioural questions will be asked. You can expect this round to be a little harder than the previous one. It depends on the interviewer also.

Remember that you’ll be appearing for the job role which is specified for Chartered Accountants, hence other candidates will also be CAs.

They all are equally knowledgeable, so it’ll be your attitude to work under pressure, your soft skills and your confidence, which will make you stand out from others. My suggestion is, you show the interviewer that you are capable of handling new challenges and are willing to learn new things.

The last round of interviews will be with HR, where salary will be discussed. You can also expect some behavioural questions in this round. 

After this round, if everything goes well and they find you to be a suitable candidate, they’ll offer you the job by sending you an offer letter.

This is how Interviews are generally conducted in Big 4s.

I hope this article helped you in understanding the hiring process at the Big 4.

 

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