Big4 consistently looks for talents across several colleges through its on-campus recruitment programs. They are among the best avenues for freshers to learn and gather experience.
The Big4 interview process is divided broadly into three components:
- Resume/CGPA Shortlisting
- Aptitude Test
In this blog, we will dive deep into all of them.
Often considered a non-eliminating round, resume shortlisting is perhaps the most important one as getting through this lets you put your practice to use. There are a lot of nuances that are put to the test while analyzing a resume which has been discussed in detail in another blog. However, to reiterate, these points should always be kept in mind:
- Your resume should contain your Educational Background, Internships/Training, Technical Proficiency, Academic/ Extracurricular achievements, and lastly, your Positions of Responsibility in school/college.
- Having a CGPA above 6.5/7 is mostly set as an initial cut-off criterion by the Big 4.
The aptitude tests are designed to check the learners’ analytical, verbal, and numerical abilities. Depending on the hired vendor to organize the test, the type of questions asked and covered topics could change from one year to the next. But all of them test the capacity of the candidate to apply their problem-solving skills within novel situations.
Candidates should focus on the following components to be fully prepared for the assessment:
- Quantitative Ability
- Verbal Ability
- Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation
- Pattern Recognition
- Quantitative Ability: Candidates should follow the topics listed in the CAT Syllabus in Quantitative Ability regard except for certain topics like Trigonometry, Binomial theorem, and Quadratic equations. An exhaustive list of topics relevant to CAT can be found here. Candidates should thoroughly prepare the basics of these topics and solve questions available on various online platforms time-bound.
- Verbal Ability: Candidates should be confident about the rules of English grammar, expand their vocabulary and improve their ability to comprehend unfamiliar subjects in a limited time. They should be able to reflect on the theme of a particular paragraph presented to them and derive insights about the mood of the narrator and the message being conveyed thereof. A good exercise in learning this skill is to summarize the message of a paragraph (google precis writing). In addition to expanding their vocabulary, candidates should also try to develop the ability to correctly estimate the meaning of unknown words that might show up while reading paragraphs on different topics. A good exercise is to take an active interest in current affairs and read quality newspaper articles and editorials regarding the same. This habit would help the candidates in their verbal ability tests during interviews.
- Logical reasoning and Data Interpretation: There is no first-hand rule that one can follow in the case of Logical reasoning and Data Interpretation. It requires a lot of practice from various sources and constantly discussing several approaches with your peers. Candidates should have ample practice on percentages, Profit, and Loss. Most importantly, understanding different types of graphs and interpreting them accurately helps score well in this section.
- Pattern recognition: Candidates should be comfortable with pattern recognition questions that frequently appear in IQ tests. They should practice such questions online in a time-bound manner.
Unless specified, Big4 firms do not look for any particular skills in freshers. Instead, they look for quick learners, adaptable to change, and highly driven to excel at whatever they do.
A typical Big4 interview process consists mainly of three rounds. These may vary depending on the firm and the situation in which the recruitment process is being held. However, it is a safe bet to be prepared for them.
1) Preliminary Interview/ Technical Interview: This interview is meant to assess the candidate’s overall potential to perform in the position she is applying for. This round would also determine the candidate’s authenticity; that is, this round would involve questions on anything and everything that the candidate has written on her resume. The interviewer may choose to dive deep into one or more aspects of the experiences, positions of responsibility, and skills highlighted on the resume. The interviewee should be thoroughly prepared to answer every one of those questions in considerable depth as per her exposure. One should also practice answering all such questions in a highly structured manner.
The technical/subject matter aspect of the interview may vary depending on the position for which the candidate is being considered and the outlook of the interviewer. However, one should be prepared to answer almost everything considered standard around a particular topic. For example, suppose one has included Excel in the skills section of the resume. In that case, one should be fully prepared to answer and demonstrate the application of several functions like VLOOKUP, INDEX-MATCH, SUMIF, etc., use of shortcuts, and be familiar with the fundamentals of the pivot table.
There would be follow-up questions and cross-questioning on the experiences that are highlighted on the resume. So, the candidate should be prepared to justify everything written on the resume.
More often than not, the candidate is the one who drives the interview, even though the interviewer is the one asking the questions. Therefore, the candidate should try not to lead the interviewer to any particulars of the skills/experiences under consideration that she is not comfortable with.
The candidate should be prepared to introduce herself to begin the interview and break the ice. The introduction should be crisp and should entail a high-level summary of all the major experiences that the candidate has had in college and anything that could be relevant to the position for which she is applying. In addition, the candidate’s communication skills should be on point, highlighting one’s experience in managing events and activities in college.
2) Partner Round: As the name suggests, candidates are interviewed in this round by a Partner. Partner Round is a short round with a maximum duration of 5 minutes. This round can be seen as a stress interview. The interviewer (Partner) throws one question after another in quick succession to the candidate and observes how well the candidate is equipped to deal with stressful situations. This round is meant to throw the candidate out of his preparation and tests her presence of mind and ability to deal with uncomfortable questions and situations. This round also tests the way a candidate carries herself.
Although the best way to prepare for this round is to be agile, calm, and confident. However, preparing a few questions like “why this firm over others?”, “what do you think distinguishes you from the others who are applying for the same position?”, “Why consulting?” etc. would only add to one’s confidence
3) HR Interview: After the candidate has been shortlisted post the Preliminary/Technical interview (and the Partner Round in some cases), she is invited to the final HR Interview. Once here, the only job for the candidate is to maintain a confident and composed personality. What interviewers look for is not someone who has a lot of knowledge but someone empathetic towards others and can have a conversation about anything and everything.
To be well prepared for this round, the candidate can practice mock HR questions typically found online. These can revolve mostly around the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate, their future goals and aspirations, or their ability to handle various crises and can even go as far as talking about their views on politics, philosophy, or music.
In conclusion, keeping all these points in mind and structuring one’s preparation according to them would certainly give one an edge in the overall interview process. All the best to all candidates!
To learn more about a career in consulting and how to crack consulting jobs, visit the Seekho Consulting Academy