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Big 4 Interview…Not February 14, 2015

Posted by Audit Monkey in The Joy & Pain of Internal Audit, Working Life in Britain.

As many professionals* out there will recognise, old hands are often canvassed by recruitment consultants as they are keen to place experienced hands in vacant posts.

I recently refused to attend an interview even though the recruiter was keen, as one, I had been given short notice to prepare an essay their client wanted as part of the interview process, and second, there were better candidates who were in the mix. I really do resent being interview fodder just to make the recruitment consultant look good and to make up the numbers. Anyway, I was recently canvassed about a role at a Big 4 firm, an advisory role. Usually I would turn down roles with Big 4 firms I’m not keen on the politics and skewed work-life balance. However, on this occasion, I was headhunted for the role and invited to interview. The actual role description was a bit vague but still, the employer had seen the CV and acted on this.

At the interview the hiring Partner did the ‘met and greet’. I was told his department has decreased in size due to redundancy and natural attrition, but they needed individuals due to an upturn in work.  He explained the role; it was a technical accounting role rather than audit.

First question,’what experience do you have?’

AM: ‘This is going to be a very short conversation, none’.

BFP (Big Four Partner): ‘So you are more audit?’

AM: ‘Well yes. While I am conversant with the relevant accounting standards, it does not feature heavily in my day-to-day role’.

BFP: ‘Did the agency tell you about the role?’

AM, being diplomatic: ‘Yes, but it seems the be the old problem of the recruiter not understanding the requirements’.

BFP: ‘I’m sorry to have wasted your time’.

AM: ‘Out of interest. How much do you pay your senior managers?’

BFP: ‘Between £70,000-£120,000’. Nice work if you can get it.

Can you, the reader, see the issues? For the avoidance of doubt I will spell it out. If you think I’m going for a firm which is at best acts indifferently to its staff, you are mistaken. Let’s get this clear; you sack staff when you haven’t got work? That’s sweet, really sweet but you expect me to be the mug punter to be their replacement now things have improved? Somehow I don’t think so.

And did you [the BFP] read the CV? My CV says audit! Why invite me as it doesn’t fulfil the requirements? Sadly this is typical Big 4 behaviour. When it’s good, it’s good, and when it’s bad, it’s bad. They expand when it’s good and contract when it’s bad. It’s why I’ve never been overly keen on practice as you are susceptible to market swings and the success of the relevant partners selling work.  Needless to say, I’m not going to be the fall-guy.

* where Internal Auditors are concerned, I use the term ‘professionals’ very loosely.


1. ITauditSecurity - February 17, 2015

So very sad and true…

2. Cheap Accountant - May 23, 2015

I was entertained when reading this post and I too have experienced the diabolical actions of recruiters when both looking for work and when recruiting. It doesn’t improve even when you’re on the other side of the fence! Recruiters are often simply sales people with no understanding of the accounting industry and the advertised role.

3. Audit Monkey - May 25, 2015

Cheap Accountant – Many thanks for reading and posting. Funnily enough I had a recruiter on the phone last week trying to sell me a general practice role despite my lack of accounts prep and external audit experience. I was quite diplomatic; ‘square pegs, round holes’ was the refrain! I often think as a recruiter I may clear up as I know the job requirements but the more savvy recruiters do take notice and listen.

Digressing, I found out who filled the role above. They were quite wise and went in as a contractor rather than a FTE. I trust you read the blog again but it will be the same old…

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