How difficult is it to get into a big 4 firm without big 4 internship/irrelevant degree


#1

Im not sure if this is the right place to post this but I know the big 4 hire graduates from all degree disciplines but Im sure preference is given to those who study accounting/economics. Is it really hard to get into a big 4 firm if you don’t study an accounting related degree and if you haven’t done an internship at one of their firms.

Thanks


#2

It’s not easy but absolutely possible to get hired from a Big 4 on one of their graduate schemes without any internship experience or an accounting-related degree - I’m one of them as I’ll be joining one of the Big 4 later this year having had no internship experience of any kind at all and did a Maths degree (graduating a while back). As long as you know how to “play their game” of getting thru their recruitment stages and show that you’re personable to the Partner at the final interview, you can land a job at a Big 4.

And contrary to popular belief, having an internship at a Big 4 or other prestigious companies may look good on your CV, but if you fail to impress them enough during your time there and not offered a job subsequently, then it would be much harder to land a graduate role at another big firm. For my Partner Interview, I certainly got the impression that my Partner either wanted me to have experience at their firm or to completely have no experience of any kind at all - they want to train you up from scratch as opposed to re-learning stuff but in a different way. This impression is consistent with talking to other Wikijob users, who said that if you get to a Partner Interview (especially for a Big 4) having done an internship experience at another firm (especially at one of their rivals or Investment Banks), the Partner is far more likely to intensely grill you on motivation, why you didn’t get the job/take the offer, commercial awareness, the ins and outs of the job (the Partner somehow expects you to have learnt a lot during your internship even at a different firm), among others - as if the Partner already has doubts about the candidate’s long-term commitments and suitability for the role. Unfair as it may seem, I certainly get the impression that many Partners seem to set a much higher bar for internship people from a different firm as opposed to people with no relevant experience such as myself. This should give you hope!


#3

Hi Anon,

Having been offered a position myself this year, and meeting many people who have also successfully completed the process, I can confirm that it is no harder to get into a big 4 firm without an accounting related degree or some form of work experience. I have to admit that when I considered applying the same thoughts crossed my mind (I have a biology background with no prior experience), however throughout the process it became clear the big 4 firms place greater emphasis on your talents, general experience, and potential, rather than specific industry knowledge. This is predominantly due to the confidence they have in their own training programs, but also because they want to have a diverse range of experience within their firms. In fact, at a recent event I attended for new starters I met only one business related graduate (albeit I didn’t meet everyone in the room), with the rest made up of people from very unrelated backgrounds (history, law, english, phycology, maths, physics, etc). Interestingly, not one person I spoke to had done an internship or any other form of work experience before applying, so it’s definitely not a prerequisite.

Although it’s clear past experience is not necessary, my general advice would still be to ensure you have a very good idea what the job will actually entail by looking online and, if possible, speaking to people from the firms themselves (they do networking events, branch visits, online chats, etc). I was repeatedly quizzed on my understanding of the role I would be taking on and was, on multiple occasions, asked what I thought would be the biggest negatives of the job. In addition, ensure you have good examples from your past where you have displayed leadership, teamwork, time management, decision making, etc. These certainly don’t have to be business related, but it is important that they fit into the STAR answer format and you can answer follow up questions relating to them.

Hope this helps and good luck.


#4

Absolutely agree with you!

And judging by the fact thay you were asked about the biggest negatives of the job, is your offer from KPMG?

And am I right to deduce that you’ve already started with your new job?

Sorry for being a bit nosy!

From the same Anonymous person who first replied to this thread


#5

Haha, yes, you are correct, my offer was from KPMG although I haven’t started yet.

How about yourself?


#6

Deloitte. And I’ll be starting in September (same as you I presume)?


#7

I wouldn’t say it’s any harder for graduates from non-accountancy.finance backgrounds to obtain an offer than those who are. I have a Philosophy degree (KPMG audit offer) and my partner has a Spanish degree (EY Public Sector Audit offer) and we didn’t feel our degree background hindered us in any way. Obviously those who work with or have a degree in a numerate subject may have less trouble passing the numerical reasoning tests, but there’s nothing stopping any sensible graduate from doing the prep work to be successful at all stages. In my experience going through the stages I met graduates from all disciplines; majority non-finance/business to be honest, and nobody I spoke to had done any relevant internships.


#8

Sounds like as if Big 4 mostly take on graduates without a business, finance, economics or accountancy-related degree . . . maybe those “related” degree students have gone on to get offers from IB, private equity firms, stockbrokers or any other City firms.

On a self-deprecating but nevertheless a valid point, graduates who’ve done a numerate subject are actually very weak on their numerical reasoning tests! I did a Maths degree and failed quite a few numerical tests before getting the hang of them, while my friends with Maths degrees at both the uni I attended and at other ones also failed a fair share of numerical tests (some even went into other graduate entry positions not requiring online numerical tests). It seems having done a Maths degree has in fact made us rubbish with numbers - we all agree that we’d do verbal or logical reasoning tests any day of the week but never the numerical!

The anonymous person with a Deloitte offer


#9

Thanks for all the advice. Really hope I can pass the interview but dont think my chances are very good. Might have to find some relevant experience and try again next year if it doesnt work out this time


#10

It’s all in the mind. If you walk into the interview room thinking that you’re going to fail, you’ll probably fail. Cheer up anon! Research the firm and your sector thoroughly, think of why you want to join them (and why you chose that sector), read up on the current economic situations and form some thoughts on it. You don’t need to have a ‘relevant degree’ nor ‘relevant experience’ to do those. Yes, it might be easier for those who have, but hey, all that matters is you impressing your interviewer with your knowledge. The interview is about you, so go in there, be confident and most importantly, be yourself! Good luck with your interview!


#11

I couldn’t agree more!

And it’s not necessarily easier for “related” degree applicants to land a Big 4 trainee role either. They may find it easier to get through earlier stages where the competencies are marked against predetermined criteria and applied consistently, but once you get to a final interview, different Directors and Partners look for different qualities and personalities within a candidate. If they like you, you’re in; if they don’t, they’ll look for all sorts of reasons to reject you eg your competency examples aren’t up to date etc. Also, I’ve heard of many cases where “related” degree applicants get absolutely killer questions around the field they want to get into, including some very tough commercial awareness questions that an unrelated degree person just wouldn’t get asked at all.