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How to get a BIG 4 recruiter to notice you as a Graduate


Hi, I am applying for Customer Technology at Deloitte Digital – anyone have any tips?

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For this round table discussion we called in:

  • Four hopeful grads
  • One big 4 recruiter

Hopeful Grad one:

I’ve just submitted my application too and it seems like Deloitte has slightly changed its online application process! It’s now similar to PwC, Deloitte and no longer requires you to respond to an online questionnaire – aside from answering the eligibility questions. Once you apply for PWC you will be immediately forwarded an automated invite to begin online testing. But for Deloitte you are not. I assume this means that there is first round manual selection process. So don’t worry if you don’t get an automated questionnaire response immediately!

Hopeful grad two:

There are multiple streams that you can apply for within Deloitte. I applied to three before I realised that you weren’t meant to do that. I had to work out how to withdraw applications.

Hopeful grad three:

Same! I just applied to 2 different business units for Deloitte and received 2 different emails telling me that I had advanced to next stage and had to complete the test. I completed one online test, and when to start the second and it’s says that I have already done it. Deloitte is extremely strict on multiply application. Learn from my mistakes!!

Hopeful grad one:

How was the test?

Hopeful grad three:

The logic test is pretty difficult!

The tests are designed to test your logical reasoning and it is no different to the aptitude tests done. The only difference is that with Deloitte it’s one big test rather than a number of small independent ones.

Some questions are designed to test your situational strengths. It gives them an idea of how you’d respond in a range of typical situations. You’ll be asked to rank a number of different options, depending on what you’re most likely to do. There are also questions that look at numerical reasoning. The biggest mistake people make here is thinking it’s about complex calculations. It’s about making practical judgements based on numerical data.

In my exam there is a water filter test where you had to determine what affect each water filter could have. It was like a game. You were able to use the ‘experiment’ area on the screen to test each filter. It was testing your methodology of testing the water and your memory as you worked through different stages. You could, if you were fast , re-test the same filters as the later stages, but with limited attempts you had to refer back to the initial questions and logically allocate the filters.

It’s a bit different and challenging.

Hopeful grad four:

Did the testing today! I did really badly in the personality test. Whilst they ask you to be honest, when I got the results, I was pretty much in the middle for every criteria. I don’t know if it hurts my chances, but if it does – do not be honest people! Just answer them what you think they want to hear.

Hopeful grad three:

Yeah, I agree. I recall putting 3-4 stars for most of the teamwork stuff because I didn’t like the idea of being really extreme for one or the other, and the test showed that comparing to others I prefer working individually (in which I do not).

The Footnotes: So, wait – what DO they want to hear?

Big 4 recruiter:

That’s hard. What I can say is practice, practice, practice. You want to come off as confident and you want to know your strengths (and weaknesses) and how to communicate them.

You want to demonstrate how you’ve worked hard, worked in teams, been a leader, faced adversity, etc and do so in a professional confident manner.

You also want to be presentable (properly dressed), make eye contact, etc. We know that it can be nerve racking for students in their interviews, but we’re not their to intimidate you. Be relaxed and be yourself. You should also be able to make small-talk and be able to carry on a conversation relatively easily. Most of the positions in the Big 4 are client facing and as a result we look for people that we know we could put in front of a client and they wouldn’t be super awkward.

On your resume you need to have good extracurriculars and be able to demonstrate leadership; but most importantly network your butt off!!

At the average university campus career fair we’d be lucky to get 20 interested students approach us and talk to us, yet then we get 4000 applications.  My biggest advice is to build up relationships with the firms while they’re on campus.

The Footnotes: What about students who work during uni and can’t build a huge CV of extracurriculars?

Big 4 recruiter:

Mention this in the interview, not as an excuse but as a strength. It shows you can manage a hectic schedule and that you’re willing to work hard which looks great on the resume. But I’d still encourage you to do something outside of work/school (anything really that you can at least talk about). Pick a sport you enjoy doing, a conference you attend, an instrument you like playing – you need to show that you are a cultural fit.

The Footnotes: What about the grade point average requirements?

Big 4 recruiter:

We do have a GPA average requirement, Yes. There isn’t really any way around this. Though, i’ve seen instances where candidates have had well below a 3.0 GPA but have great extra-curriculars, or have come out to numerous events to meet people working at the firm. Don’t discount the power of networking or attending case competitions/leadership events. If you have less than appealing resume these events are key for you to get your foot in the door for an interview.

The key is getting who ever you talk with’s email address and continuing the conversation. Next time you see them at an event make sure to talk to them, remind them where you met and strengthen the relationship.

The Footnotes: One graduate asked us for the perfect answer to, “where do you see yourself in 10 years?”

Big 4 recruiter:

Big4 recruiters don’t really want to hear that you want to be there in 10-20 years time. What we look for are bright, keen people that are leaders amongst their peers and want to work hard in a place that’s able to provide them with challenges and opportunities. I wouldn’t say how long you plan on staying – there is no need to answer this question relative to an organisation. Talk about where you want to be in a career: challenged, in a growing and thriving company, in a solid team and community. Talk about the values and strengths of the firm.

There is no secret sauce to blowing a recruiter away in 4 minutes. Be yourself, confident and ask questions that you actually care about the answers to. It’s annoying when students come prepared with questions loosely constructed around content that they clearly don’t care about and have found on the website.



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