Salary questions at interview


Do the big 4 ask about salary expectations in the interviews, and if so, can it affect the starting salary that they offer you?


Not in my experience and I believe there is no negotiationon salary. Everyone is offered the same initially.

Also, I wouldn’t advise asking about this at interview. PwC were very secretive about this, so much so that the graduates I had lunch with had specifically been told they were not allowed to discuss this with us!

All of the Big 4 have similar starting rates once you take into account all the benefits. PwC seem to offer less than the others but their benefits package seems a little more generous (I am talking about the region here, I have NO idea about London!) but it still seems slightly less than the others. However, apparently increases happen quite quickly.

This seemed a little odd to me as I initially wanted to do law and law firms are very open about what they offer, which is substantially more than the Big4! However, I guess they don’t want salary alone to influence your decsion but want to know you are committed to that firm rather than what they pay you.


Everyone is offered the same starting salary for graduate schemes. Big 4 firms probably won’t ask you your salary expectations during interview. If they do, explain that you feel you deserve a salary that reflects your current level of academic qualification and experience, but are not expectingan exceptionally high salary at this early stage - so something in the mid 20’s would be great, but you’d be happy with anything over £20,000. You should then go on to say that salary alone is not the most important factor in a job for you, and that good training, a company with a good reputation and a good working environment are far more important overall.

‘’‘Never ask your interviewer what the salary will be when you start your job.’’’ It just doesn’t seem professional if you do this. It’s something you can do in an interview for a part-time job at a supermarket, but not for an accountancy training programme.

Everyone interviewing for a job at a company should already know roughly what they’ll be getting paid if they get the job. If you don’t, you need to find out, so check online or ask friends, careers advisers - or on this forum.

“What are your salary expectations” is a question that comes up now and again in interviews (although more commonly interviews for specific one-off roles, rather than grad schemes) and you need to be able to give an appropriate answer. Interviewers only really use the question to weed out candidates who say they want salaries that are far too high, because candidates with ridiculous salary expectations are usually poor quality candidates more than anythign else. IF you go for an interview for a job that has a salary of £20,000 and tell them you want £40,000 and a car, you won’t get the job.

The only time anyone should ever state that they want to earn a lot of money right away is during interviews for sales jobs - for example Foxtons estate agents - because your salary is based on commission.

Accountant 1981 - it’s strange that law firms are so keen to promote their salaries isn’t it. Law firms more generally seem to be very open about their graduate recruitment processes compared to other industries too.


I guess they think all us law students are in law for the money. I don’t know where they get that idea from as no lawyers I know are motivated by money…


Most of the lawyers I know come from quite wealthy families anyway and the money is inconsequential.

On the other hand, graduates that want to work in [[investment banking]] really are only interested in the money - in fact, I think the main motivation of almost anyone who wants to work in IB would be money (!?) …but the big banks are just like the [[Big 4]] - you can’t really find out what you’ll be earning until you get there!!


Most of the salaries are in the region of £27k in London. The difference between the [[Big 4]] is rarely more than about £500. It might be secretive, but if they ask you and you say something unrealistic (i.e. too high or too low), you probably won’t get the job. The irony is that they won’t tell you, but they expect you to have done your research to find out what is reasonable.

One of the reasons they won’t tell you is because they usually haven’t finalised what your salary will be at the time of interview, usually many many months before you start. They figure that out nearer the time, and it’s always fairly competitive.

The one other thing about the salary is that even at £27k it is a lot lower than you would be getting at say an investment bank, for the same academic qualifications. The difference here really is the industry, and the fact that your training costs act negatively upon your salary- it is expensive to train accountants! Investment bankers don’t get such training & qualifications out of their employers.

Just one last thing- the PwC benefits scheme is pretty excellent- the AXA PPP healthcare is also faultless.