How to prepare for the Application Process at a Big 4 Firm

What to Expect from the Application Process

Whether you are applying for Deloitte, EY, PwC, KPMG or any other large organisation, there is usually a standard recruitment process to follow, and it is important to be prepared for the various stages. Although not every process will be the same, you will have steps to follow and it is worth looking at the values of the company before you start. This can help ensure you are consistent with your answers, and it will give you a better chance of success. The recruiters are looking to find out if you are a good fit for the company – not just the role.

These are some of the steps you can expect from the application process for Deloitte, EY, PwC and KPMG, and other companies who follow an in-depth process.

Online Application

The first step of any recruitment process is to complete an online application. This will usually mean that you have to fill in your profile details and upload your CV/resume, as well as any supporting documents and qualifications. It is important to complete your application carefully and to consider the role you are applying to and the values of the company. The roles at Deloitte, EY, PwC and KPMG are highly sought after, so the recruiters are looking out for applications without any grammatical or spelling errors and those which ultimately fit the criteria of the role.

Online Tests

The next stage of the recruitment process for Deloitte, EY, PwC and KPMG are online aptitude tests, and this also applies to many other large organisations. In most cases this will include a verbal reasoning test, numerical reasoning and psychometric test. There may also be a logical reasoning test, or other alternative tests. The verbal reasoning test is an online test which includes a passage of complex text, and the candidate must answer questions related to the text, usually a “true”, “false” or “cannot determine” answer. The complexity of the questions will vary depending on the company, but with organisations such as Deloitte, EY and PwC and KPMG, you can expect these questions to be challenging. It is important to be careful when answering the questions, but not spend too much time on each question. This test is designed to ensure candidates can understand complex information, as this will be an aspect of most roles within these types of organisations. Another common online test is the numerical reasoning test. The numerical test is designed to assess the candidate’s ability to analyse and understand information, such as numerical and statistical. In this test, candidates are required to perform calculations and interpret information from tables and charts. The numerical test is challenging, but the main difficulty is answering the questions both quickly and accurately.

The psychometric test is used to determine the values and characteristics of the candidate and is designed to ensure the candidate is the right fit for both the role and the culture of the organisation. It is worth keeping the overall values of the company in mind when completing the online tests.

Telephone Interview

In some cases, a telephone interview will be part of the application process, and this will usually be an unstructured conversation to find out a bit more your motivation for joining the company and your experience to date. Although these are generally more relaxed than formal one to one interviews, it is important to prepare as you don’t know what you might be asked. It is always better to be over prepared than under prepared. If you are applying for a role at EY, PwC, Deloitte, KPMG or similar organisations, telephone interviews are likely at some point in the recruitment process. The telephone interview will usually last no more than 30 minutes.

Assessment Centre

The Big 4 organisations all have assessment centres as part of their overall recruitment process, and many other big organisations have this as standard too. The assessment centre will include a series of assessments and you may have tests similar to the aptitude tests you have already completed. Recruiters at this stage often want to ensure you were the person undertaking the online tests and that you still perform well in this situation. If you are successful at the interview stage, you will usually be asked to stay on for a final interview. If you are unsuccessful at the assessment centre, recruiters at organisations like KPMG, EY, PwC and Deloitte will provide you with feedback, so you know what to improve on in the future. They will not leave you hanging on waiting for feedback.


The final interview will usually take place after the assessment centre, and this is the opportunity to show the recruiter and the hiring manager your strengths and how you would fit into the organisation. There will be some in-depth preparation required for the final interview as this will usually be competency based, so you will need to have answers with examples to back up any statements. With the Big 4; Deloitte, EY, PwC and Deloitte, the recruiters are really looking for exceptional candidates, and the final interview will give them a good indication of whether you are right for the role. The final decision as to whether you are successful or not for the role will be based on your results from each part of the process, not just the final interview. There is a lot of competition for roles within these organisations, and the recruiters will be looking for evidence that you can perform to a high standard at each stage of the recruitment process.


You can expect to receive feedback at each stage of the process and more in-depth feedback at the end. The Big 4 organisations; Deloitte, EY, PwC and Deloitte have set timelines for each stage of the process, so you can expect feedback within a few days at each stage of the process. Unlike many other organisations, the Big 4 will provide you with a clear and concise candidate journey.

Preparing for the Application Process

There are various stages throughout the application process and as such, you need to be patient. With some application processes, you will apply for the job, undertake an interview and receive feedback as to whether you have been successful. This process is different with the Big 4 firms and other similar large organisations, as they hire only a small portion of applicants for a large pool of applications. The whole recruitment process is much more in-depth and complex.

These are some tips for preparing for the various stages of the application process.

Practice – with the online tests and the interview stages, practice is important. There are plenty of free online numerical tests, verbal reasoning tests and psychometric tests which you can practice to get a feel for what to expect. You won’t receive information on the questions prior to the interview, but it is imperative that you practice. With the interview and assessment stages, you should practice competency-based questions, with examples.You can find free practice questions at

Rest – although it is a nerve-wracking process, you need to be well rested for each stage, so you can perform at your best. Get a good night’s sleep before your online tests and the interview. Give yourself plenty of time in the morning to get ready and prepared.

Positive attitude – Deloitte, EY, PwC and KPMG, as well as other similar, large organisations are looking for candidates who stand out from the crowd. If you turn up with a lack of enthusiasm and negative attitude, they are unlikely to take you forward. It is important to remain positive and trust in your abilities.

Mindfulness – stay present and mindful at each stage of the process. With the online tests, your score is based on both accuracy and time. You need to be able to think on your feet, without getting stressed and overwhelmed with the questions. Think about the question carefully, but don’t take too much time on it. Fully immerse yourself in the tests, instead of thinking about other things going on in your life. It is also important to be mindful during the interview. Think about what the interviewers are asking you, before you give them an answer. Many candidates slip up because they aren’t fully listening, and this is usually down to nerves.

Stay calm – the worst mistake you can make with the application process is to let your nerves get the better of you. It is important to remain calm and take a deep breath before you attempt each part of the process. No one wants to see you fail, they just want to ensure you are the right person for the job.

Take it seriously – as much as you don’t want to get stressed about the application process, at the same time, don’t be complacent about it either. The Big 4; Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC are looking to hire exceptional professionals who will add real value to their business. They want to be assured that you are confident in your abilities, you take care with your appearance and that you are dedicated to the company. If you seem like you are not taking the process seriously, they won’t want to hire you.