This article is to provide advice to new graduates considering a graduate audit job on the qualifications required, how to go about finding work, and typical interview format and questions.
Having gained a degree in a relevant subject, in order to become an auditor, it is first necessary to qualify as an accountant of some description, depending on the type of auditing career under consideration.
To become an external auditor, for example, there are four professional bodies offering the required training courses; the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, and the Association of International Accountants. Having taken and passed the relevant exams, the individual must then work as a qualified chartered accountant for a minimum of two years and be in possession of a practising certificate and audit qualification.
A similar, but slightly less demanding qualification procedure must be followed by those wishing to become internal auditors or IT auditors.
It is worth mentioning that when seeking graduate audit jobs, accountancy firms are likely to look favourably on applicants who have gained practical experience by spending some time working through internships. This also provides an opportunity for the individual to decide which branch of auditing they wish to follow.
How to find the right graduate audit job
There is little doubt that the most effective way of finding suitable graduate jobs is to register with one or more of the established and reputable recruitment agencies; for example, Randstad. The vast majority of accountancy firms carry out all their recruitment either directly via their websites or through agencies. The benefit, especially for those seeking employment for the first time, is that the recruitment agency will take a look at their CVs and, if necessary, suggest where they could be improved, ascertain what the individual’s long-term career aspirations are, and offer guidance on what type of company is likely to provide the best fit in terms of achieving that goal.
Another key benefit of using a recruitment agency is that graduates will only be put forward for an interview for positions that meet their specific criteria, thus saving both the prospective employer and the candidate valuable time. A good recruitment agency will carefully match the job specification provided by the prospective employer with a shortlist of suitably qualified candidates.
Typical interview format and questions
The job application process for one of the ‘big four’ accountancy firms typically involves submitting an initial online application, completing an online maths/diagrammatic/verbal test, a first round interview, attending an assessment day, and finally an interview with a partner.
Apart from the standard interview questions, such as ‘tell me about yourself,’ ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses?’ and ‘where do you expect to be in five years’ time?’ candidates can expect to be asked the following:
- What achievements are you most proud of over the past two years?
- When and how have you overcome disagreements within a team you were leading?
- What other companies have you applied to?
- Currently, what new business opportunities do you see for this company?
- Provide an example of when you achieved a goal working as part of a team?
- What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
- Discuss a piece of financial news that is likely to impact the industry.
- How would you invest £1 million?
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