5 Tips for Getting a Job at a Big Four Accounting Firm

Top Strategies for Getting Hired by a Big Four Accounting Firm

  • Attend Fall Recruitment Events
  • Pass the CPA Exam
  • Create an Impressive Resume
  • Choose an Area of Specialization
  • Practice Taking Tests

Every accountant looks forward to the chance to join one of the Big Four accounting firms, and the application process is similar for each of the four largest accounting companies. The Big Four firms are Ernst & Young, Deloitte & Touche, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers. They handle most of the largest corporate accounts in the financial world and offer security and benefits to their employees. The process of applying to one of the Big Four firms is an essential part of graduating from a university accounting program. Recruiters from these firms spend time on college campuses looking for talented young professionals ready to start their careers in the world of accounting.

1. Attend Fall Recruitment Events

The fall recruitment events on college campuses are the most important events for new accountants looking to join one of the Big Four firms. All four companies invest heavily in these events to attract new interns and full-time employees for the coming year. The fall recruitment period begins in September and ends in October, so it’s important to be prepared and focused when the recruitment time comes around. The scheduling of these events is designed to coincide with the semester schedules of current accounting students and recent graduates. A separate recruitment effort occurs during the spring semester, but it is typically only used to find interns for summer positions.

2. Pass the CPA Exam

Big Four recruiters don’t expect recent graduates to have passed the certified public accountant exam during the fall recruitment session. They will strongly encourage every potential recruit to take the exam as soon as possible, so it’s a good idea to be prepared to take it before speaking with a Big Four recruiter. The CPA exam is known for being somewhat lengthy and difficult, but many study aids are available for recent graduates interested in becoming certified, according to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. Most accounting schools offer one-year programs to prepare students to take the exam after graduation.

3. Create an Impressive Resume

The Big Four accounting companies can afford to be picky when it comes to hiring new accountants. Without an excellent resume, it can be quite difficult to get a second interview with a recruiting agent. Applicants should also have a concise, properly formatted and well-written cover letter. It’s equally important to have professional-looking email templates when corresponding with recruitment officers from the Big Four accounting firms.

4. Choose an Area of Specialization

Big Four recruiters have to speak to a lot of hopeful applicants, so they keep their interviews brief by quickly getting to the point when they meet an applicant for the first time. They want to know specific details about the applicant’s career goals and professional interests, so it’s a good idea to have an area of specialization in mind when speaking to a recruiter. From auditing and consulting to technology and tax accounting, the areas of specialization are covered in comprehensive detail over the course of a college accounting program.

5. Practice Taking Tests

The CPA exam isn’t the only test that Big Four recruits are expected to take. During the initial phase of the interview process, recruits are put through a battery of verbal reasoning, logic and personality tests to ensure that they have the temperament and acumen to handle a high-pressure job at one of the Big Four firms. The testing and interview phase can be stressful, but it will be worth the effort when the process is over.


For anyone interested in finance, accounting is a rewarding profession that can be highly lucrative for motivated people. When it comes to applying for a job at one of the Big Four accounting firms, attention to detail and persistence will help make a good impression on recruiting officers.

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