From application to final interview, the accountancy recruitment process is designed to assess whether you possess key qualities and competencies. To help you prepare, we take a look at what to expect at every stage of the recruitment process.
Though exact testing methods and timescales will vary, accountancy selection processes can be broadly grouped together by the size of recruiters.
Below you’ll find the typical structure of the accountancy selection process for the Big Four recruiters, Mid-Tier firms, and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
The Big Four
- The Big Four professional services companies (Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC ) begin their recruitment cycles anew in September, when they invite jobseekers to fill out an online application form. Testing begins immediately, as these forms include questions that assess whether you have the recruiter’s most valued ‘competencies’ or ‘strengths’. Lists of these are usually available on the employer’s website.
- Successful applicants will proceed to take online psychometric tests relating to verbal reasoning and numerical reasoning. The professional qualifications and graduate jobs themselves will demand a high standard in both, so such testing is appropriate at this stage. In addition, PwC also serve candidates with a personality questionnaire.
- A first interview will be held with someone at management level. PwC offer you the option of a face to face or phone interview.
- Lasting one or two days, accountancy assessment centres involve a mix of numerical and verbal reasoning tests, written communication tests and individual and group exercises. These can involve in-tray or e-tray exercises (KPMG, Deloitte), simulated meetings (KPMG) and personality tests (Deloitte). Even lunch breaks should be considered as part of the process, as you will be assessed on how you interact with trainees and other employees. You will discuss your career aspirations and their experience at the hiring company.
- The final interview will be conducted by a partner or director, possibly alongside a manager. At EY, this takes place at the end of a successful assessment day.
The selection process for mid-tier accountancy firms is very similar to the above. Online forms lead to verbal and numerical tests, which are followed by first round interviews. Some, like BDO, will hold only one interview, after a successful assessment day.
Assessment days normally include a combination of in-tray and group exercises. The latter might take the form of a case study, in which you will be evaluated on the way you work with others as much as on your individual analytical abilities.
Final interviews are held with senior members, after which you will receive notification.
Applying directly to SMEs will likely begin with an online form, but smaller accountancy houses might ask for a CV and covering letter instead. There follows a more purely interview-based selection process, with a phone interview being succeeded by a first-stage interview and assessment exercise, and a final stage interview.
Recruitment among small and medium sized accountancy firms is often carried out by intermediaries, such as HAT and SWAT UK. These training syndicates follow a similar pattern to the mid-tier recruiters: application form, then aptitude test and first interview. SWAT UK holds an assessment day at this stage, but HAT does not. The final interview in such cases is held by a representative of the hiring accountancy firm.
Whether you’re interested in working for the Big Four, Mid Tier, or small accountancy firms, you can begin your application process by taking a look at our comprehensive list of graduate accountancy jobs.