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Want a graduate job at the Big 4? You better be able to answer these questions...

Craig Shepherd

If you want a graduate job at a Big 4 employer, you’d already know it isn’t going to be a walk in the park. The career benefits are great, so these employers are going to make you work for an opportunity. Could you answer these questions?

Interview questions for a graduate job at the Big 4

For those not already aware, the Big 4 refers to the top 4 accountancy and advisory firms, being Deloitte Australia, Ernst & Young (EY), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and KPMG. Graduate jobs with these employers are highly sought after because of the enormous career benefits that come with working for such successful organisations. The recruitment process can be long and include phone interviews, assessment centres and one-on-one interviews – you want the best graduate job and the Big 4 want the best graduates, so you’d better be ready! To help you out, GradAustralia has compiled a list of possible interview questions you should be ready for.

Behavioural interview questions

Behavioural questions are designed to learn more about how you approach situations rather than the knowledge you may have. When asking these questions, an employer wants to find out more about your soft skills like work ethic and attitude. Helen Bobbitt, KPMG's graduate talent acquisition manager provides the following advice regarding interview answers, ‘I would really encourage students to think broadly around their experiences and use examples from across sport, extra-curricular, work experience, and not feel that they just have to talk about their university studies.' Below are examples of the behavioural questions you might be asked when being interviewed for a graduate job at the Big 4.

  • Tell us about your career goals.
  • What is the hardest thing for you to do?
  • What are some challenges you have faced and how did you deal with them?
  • What is the hardest decision you’ve made, and how did you make the decision?
  • Tell us about a time you showed leadership.
  • How do you feel about engaging a group of people you’ve never met?
  • How do you take feedback?
  • What are your interests outside of work?

Skills and knowledge based interview questions

Skills based questions are more technical in nature and will focus more on the knowledge you’ve gained through study and/or previous internships. Aside from some common questions, you will usually be required to work on a case study to demonstrate your understanding and skills. With the types of questions below, an organisation is looking to test your knowledge on not just the things you’ve learned during your degree, but also whether you keep up to speed with industry standards and if you’ve sufficiently researched their business.

Emma Taylor, the senior manager for national graduate talent acquisition at Deloitte Australia advises, ‘We are looking for people that are naturally inquisitive and passionate about their future and show genuine interest in our business and our leaders. You will stand out if you have done thorough research around our business and client offerings.’

  • What can you bring to the organisation?
  • What are your thoughts on the current business climate?
  • Tell us something about yourself that isn’t on your resume.
  • Why did you choose this line of work?
  • Why are you applying at this company?
  • Have you heard about any recent cases our organisation has been engaged in?
  • What can you tell me about the current tax system?
  • What are your thoughts on the Intergenerational Report?
  • How do you keep up to date with current events?
  • Describe a situation that displays our organisation’s values.
  • What do you like about technology?

Situational interview questions

When an interviewer asks situational questions, they’re generally more interested in the process you’ve followed rather than the end result. These types of questions are designed to give employers some insight into how you approach different tasks, and how you might react to workplace scenarios. Organisations want to get to know you, not just what you’ve learned. A recent Melbourne graduate working at Deloitte Australia said, ‘Questions about my technical abilities, and questions about my personality and how I would handle situation examples. The interviews were much more like conversations, rather than question and answer.’ When applying for graduate jobs at the Big 4, you’re certain to run into questions like the ones below.

  • Tell us about a time you worked as part of a team.
  • How has your previous work experience prepared you for this role?
  • Tell us about a time you failed and how you coped with it.
  • Tell us about a time you’ve solved a conflict.
  • Tell us about a time you have helped improve the performance of your peers.
  • Tell us about a time you had to change your approach to a problem halfway through.

The questions above are some examples of what you may encounter during the interview process for a graduate job at the Big 4, but obviously the list is not exhaustive. Each employer and program will vary their questions, but this article should give you a good chance to prepare some answers and examples.