Failed at interviews, where next?



I just heard that my interviews were unsuccessful this year. I am currently on a year out after university and don’t really want to have to wait for another year, it will be 2010 before I could start work now which is too late for me. Are there any other options to get working, perhaps outside of the regular big firms, and still work towards becoming a chartered accountant?

Has anyone else been in this situation before and if so how did you deal with it? I had planned on travelling this year but am now tempted to cancel that to use the money to do a post grad in accountancy next year as my degree is ‘non-relevant’. Would this boost my employability by much or is it the teamwork, organisation qualities that employers look at most?

I am really at a loss here and don’t know what the best course of action is. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.



You don’t need a specific degree to do accountancy, just the ability to pass their online tests which you have obviously done to get to the interview stage.
Where have you applied to? There are loads of firms outside of the big 4! type in top 50 accountancy firms on google and that will bring up a list to get you started.
Make sure you really think about what examples to use, you will have examples for most competencies you just have to find them in your activities!
If you really want to work at somewhere that has turned you down after interview I would spend the year working and gaining experience of the competencies that let you down in interviews so you can ace them next time!


I applied to PwC, KPMG, Baker Tilly, Grant Thornton and BDO of whom I only interviewed at GT and PwC.

I am aware that there are other firms but all of the applications I have seen have finished. Do other firms still allow applications after the usual milkround?

Thanks for your reply.


Most are on a rolling basis until vacancies get filled up so it depends on how popular the office is that you are applying to. Have you not applied for EY and Deloitte because they appear closed? If so perhaps look at different offices. Also there are smaller accountancy firms as well such as Mazars so look into them?

It depends what you would rather do though. If you really want to start 2009 then you need to start looking at smaller firms down the list. If you would rather work for a bigger firm then just take another year out and get some experience… travelling will still give you a lot to talk about in interviews, planning ahead, personal responsibility for travel arrangements etc.


Hi dt.mckeown,

I don’t know if any are still recruiting but have a look on their websites and most should show any remaining positions.

If not, I think rachel is right, you need to get the competencies that they are looking for in the next year.

I’m from a non-finance background, but my gap years answered so many of the required competencies:
working to save money to travel - dedication, budgeting, planning and organisation
travelling - budgeting, communicating, adaptability, initiative
volunteer work - ability to learn new skills, passing on learnt knowledge, working in tough conditions, team work, leadership

I obviously used other examples too, from previous jobs and uni etc, but you can see how a year out can get the competencies you need, so if you want to travel, don’t cancel it just because you’re worried about passing the interviews next year. And remember, alot of places have a jan/april start too, so you wouldn’t necessarily have to wait until the end of 2010! Can travel, apply next aug/sept and start at the beginning of 2010?

Although I’m obviously biased, so if you feel that an accountancy course would be better then only you can know whats right for you individually!


I want to work in Belfast so the opportunites here are a little more limited compared mainland England say.

The competition at the interviews I was at was pretty tough so I imagine that would be the same for EY and Deloitte at the minute.

I am scouring at smaller firms but with no luck yet. This is probably the worst time possible to be applying to the smaller firms too, but I’ll persevere and hopefully something will show up.


embee16 and rachel, thanks very much for your thoughts!

Ideally Sept 09 is when I wanted to start. If worst comes to worst 2010 would be ok, although I really want to come across as a top candidate at my next interview to ensure it’s not 2011!!

My degree is Maths so numbers aren’t a problem to me and it is a kind of useful degree for accounting. I used examples for my competencies from previous travelling I have done. I think the reason I feel I was unsuccessful was due to my lack of knowledge of the industry. I have read all the papers and keep up-to-date on the business news but I feel a fall short when asked questions like “What will you be doing on a day to day basis”. Would studying accountancy help me understand the procedures involved with the job and give me more of an insight into the job itself?

The travel I have planned, and have no firm arrangements as of yet, is just for a month or two around Asia so it won’t be as dramatic as cancelling an entire year out.


You could always apply for a January 2010 start then. Did the places where you failed the interview give you feedback on why? That would be helpful for you to know exactly what you need to improve on.
The job on a day to day basis is usually listed on the website, that’s where I got my information from anyway. I guess studying accountancy may help but I doubt it really. I’ve spoken to quite a few people who have done accountancy and then gone on to work at an accountancy firm and they say they don’t use anything from their degree.

On a side note… I do maths too! How is maths ‘non-relevant’?! I guess you wouldn’t use many of the ideas directly but the general problem solving and analytical thinking maybe?


There are loads of options to train as an accountant. You said ‘chartered’, are you committed to doing the ACA, or would you consider ACCA or CIMA?

I had a few unsuccessful interview with large-ish accountancy firms, and eventually decided it wasn’t really for me and so started looking at other options. It’s taken about 6 months but I have finally found a job in industry that I’m really happy with.

As for travelling, I think it is well worth doing if you use the time well. I went travelling and I think that definitely helped my applications. But, I spent a lot of the time volunteering and learning a language, if you spent a gap year lounging around on a beach it probably wouldn’t do much for you.

As far as the interviews went, I felt I was able come across a lot better with the industry interviews rather than the large practice interviews. With the industry interviews the interviewer was normally someone I was going to be working with, so it was a lot more relaxed and more about getting to know you, rather than someone from HR with a long list of competency questions to throw at you. Different strokes for different folks I guess!

Also, remember that times are tough now, outside of the large firms with annual graduate intakes, there aren’t loads of opportunities at the moment. Maybe after a year of travelling things will be looking though. Stick to it and I’m, sure you’ll get something.



just wanted to add that I totally agree with what everyone else has said. My degree is in history and philosophy and I didn’t even take maths on at school, so it really doesn’t matter what your degree’s in. If you decide you want to reapply to some of the big firms next year, you get try going to one of their “insight” days. I went to one at PwC and you get a lot of advertisement for the company and stuff but it was also really useful in giving you an idea of how to answer commercial awareness questions. I think if I hadn’t gone I would have struggled a lot more than I did! Most of the big companies have these days at offices all over the UK a few times a year, if you go to the website you can register for them.


look here and work your way down!