Help! New applicant but not sure how it will go


Hi all,

I am a biology graduate (2 years ago), trying to apply big 4 now. Not an easy decision to change career so really do not want to fail. A few questions:

1: how long on average do you guys spend in practising those online tests?

2: Any insights about for those who are not freshly graduated, what kind of questions would they ask? There is one for sure they would ask me why I change from biology to audit, I don’t think my original thought would be impressive, such as doing biology has a boring life and has to stay in the lab all day long. So I am trying to think of a better reason. But somehow my brain went on strike, I need some inspirations.

3: I try to practise on SHL, but it always gives the same test, I am thinking of taking a real test but afraid that I may fail. For PwC, I can apply in 3 months time, but for others, how long do I have to wait before I can apply again?

4: If I failed, as you all know in their online application, they would ask you have you applied before, If yes, would that affect my future application?

Thank you all so much for all the help.

  1. ages! i’d advise you to sign up for assessmentday, a website full of practice tests. words cannot describe how much difference that website has made on my online test performances. i’d spend at least a week doing those tests, make sure you do work through tests 1-12, then repeat three or four times. basically you get one shot at each company’s online tests so you wanna be ready for anything

  2. say once you finished your degree you needed time to reflect and really decide where your interests and skills would be best suited, maybe mention that being from a biological background that accountancy wasn’t initially an obvious choice but through a ‘friends’ recommendation you done some research on the career. Say that biology has helped you develop analytical and communicative skills, where you handle complex concepts/results and interpret them for a more user friendly output.

mention that you feel that accountancy can offer greater opportunity for personal and professional development (exams, responsbility, taking on your own clients), and that while you may regret discovering this late on, you’re dedicated to becoming a chartered accountant and taking advantage of opportunities to develop yourself.

  1. look to answer 1., companies change - generally speaking it’s 12 months but my advice is to go to the Accountancyage website and look for the list of top 100 accounting firms then work your way down them. (it’s what i did, and it took a while but eventually got one :slight_smile: )

  2. probably but we’ll cross that bridges when/if we come to it

when talking in interview they like to hear buzz words like:
balance (work/social life)


Hi Blieker

Thank you so much.

How much knowledge do they actually would ask about the line of service or I just need to demonstrate I know the service but no need for a certain depth?


depends, some companies don’t ask for too much depth but it’s almost guaranteed that the big 4 will require you to have a good knowledge of your service line

i only really know about audit because that’s what i applied for so i’d advise learning all about the EC and audit reforms. a simple search on google should fill you in

probably worth knowing lots about the eurozone crisis & credit crunch too.