I thought I’d put some information up about Grant Thornton and BDO for anyone who is interested. I didn’t get offers from either of these companies so bare this in mind as you are reading through!
These companies typically attract smaller mid-tier clients than the Big 4 who are sub FTSE 350 and are often AIM registered. They both have around three FTSE 350 clients each but I think that only one of these is an actively trading company. Needless to say, the work you would be doing at these firms would be different than at a Big 4 firm.
Many people, including myself, would prefer to complete their training with a smaller firm for numerous reasons including greater autonomy at work, varied across-sector clients and the chance to develop a closer relationship with the owner or director’s of the client firm.
That said many people feel that training is superior at the Big 4 due to their history and experience with professional exams, the limitless international career opportunities when you are qualified and the opportunity to work with huge clients which is simply not possible outside of the Big 4.
Now, it is no secret that GT and BDO are in the shadow of the Big 4 with regards to clients. Directors of both companies have been quoted in saying that they would love the opportunity to work with larger clients but don’t get the chance. This is often a very touchy subject with mid-tier firms (like the audit oligopoly is with the Big 4) and could make or break your chances with the firm. No matter who you have applied to – do not mention a Big 4 companies name in an interview with GT or BDO unless it is to say why you have not applied to them. The interviewer will be keen to know why you would prefer to work for a mid-tier firm so have a good think about what they offer that the Big 4 don’t. Talking a little about my admiration for the GT and Tenon training academies went down very well with the interviewer and I would suggest mentioning this.
GT use a telephone interview as the first round of screening which I hate and subsequently failed. My advice here is to try and practice an actual telephone interview and do your research – they can’t see you so you could have pages of model answers in front of you. The questions explore your academic and vocational decisions to date including why you chose you’re A-Levels, why you chose your University, why you want to join GT and the service line you have applied to. You also get the typical questions about teamwork, leadership and client focus. They seem to choose around 10 questions from a list of a possible 15 and a particularly strange question I was asked was “How do you organise your day”. The worst part of telephone interviews is that they have as much information as you do so when you ask them to explain the question or ask in what context they would like the answer – they just ask the question again. The whole situation feels very forced and awkward for both parties and it is impossible to gauge how well you are doing, digress slightly to hit a competency or achieve any kind of flow with the interview or report with the interviewer. Practice, practice, practice – be confident, coherent and talk clearly.
Unfortunately, I also failed the BDO interview in the first round so if anyone else has any more information on assessment centres or final interviews at either of these companies, please add this to the post.
At Tenon, my interviewer actually trained with PwC and could not stand it whereas my friend at EY absolutely loves it so it. It really comes down to personal preference and what you want out of your training and where you see yourself in 5 years time.