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Utterly stumped on how to get into accounting... Watch

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    Well I'm a graduate from a non-oxbridge IB targeted uni with a 2:1 in a STEM subject and 3 A*'s at A-level (so the UCAS and uni requirements aren't a hindrance). I graduated in 2014 and worked in retail for the first year, and have applied to all the top 4, top 10 and many other firms. I almost always pass the tests, application form questions and phone interviews, but always get stumped at the interview/AC stage.

    I just can't seem to get through that part of the recruitment process, and I've been going at it for two years. Feedback is almost always that my commercial knowledge is good (which is no surprise as I make sure to keep on top of the industry), but I have issues in terms of my communication skills. I think I've come a long way in rectifying my confidence skills and am much better than when I started, but it still seems to be the main factor hindering me. To further compound matters I've put on a lot of weight in the past year from just general depression of not being able to reach the promised lands of a graduate scheme which I know does me no favours considering how image conscious the industry is. I've really only applied to external audit/internal audit positions; the latter because I heard it was easier to get into due to the small number of applicants for it (but then again this is evened out by the fact that IA teams are also much smaller).

    I mean on paper I guess I should be walking into a scheme but it just isn't happening. I've decided to chalk up my pride and apply to small local firms outside the top 100/ranked 50-100. Is it possible to work in the big 10 (more specifically big 4) after working for a smaller firm? And how is the recruitment process at these smaller firms? I have two more first stage interviews scheduled with top 20 firms next month, but honestly I kind of already have given up hope getting those positions.
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    Interview technique. Go to your uni either the local one if they have a cross uni agreement or your old one. Do an interview on video and keep doing mock interviews. It should become clear how you do and dont come across.

    You talk about communication skills.

    1. Do you understand interviews?
    2. Do you know what they want in the answers.
    3. It might not be what you say but how you say it.
    4. Do you appreciate body language. Eye contact, listening, smiling, short direct answers, asjusting to the occasion, confidence, personaility. It comes naturally to some people whilst its hard for others, but you cna get better at it.
    5. Depression is a problem. Does it show in interview?
    6. Weight? you cna lose it through a simple regime of diet and exercuse. I had that problem.

    Many are called but few are chosen. You have to look at whether you really stand out and realise its a competitive business.
    have you thought of any things you cna do to improve? You have to improve and cnat stand still.

    You need to start believeing in youirself becayse unless you do, then you are going to have a hard yask of getting employers to believe in you.

    Good luck.

    ps your OP was very well laid out and had all the details.
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    (Original post by Brapadoo)
    Well I'm a graduate from a non-oxbridge IB targeted uni with a 2:1 in a STEM subject and 3 A*'s at A-level (so the UCAS and uni requirements aren't a hindrance). I graduated in 2014 and worked in retail for the first year, and have applied to all the top 4, top 10 and many other firms. I almost always pass the tests, application form questions and phone interviews, but always get stumped at the interview/AC stage.

    I just can't seem to get through that part of the recruitment process, and I've been going at it for two years. Feedback is almost always that my commercial knowledge is good (which is no surprise as I make sure to keep on top of the industry), but I have issues in terms of my communication skills. I think I've come a long way in rectifying my confidence skills and am much better than when I started, but it still seems to be the main factor hindering me. To further compound matters I've put on a lot of weight in the past year from just general depression of not being able to reach the promised lands of a graduate scheme which I know does me no favours considering how image conscious the industry is. I've really only applied to external audit/internal audit positions; the latter because I heard it was easier to get into due to the small number of applicants for it (but then again this is evened out by the fact that IA teams are also much smaller).

    I mean on paper I guess I should be walking into a scheme but it just isn't happening. I've decided to chalk up my pride and apply to small local firms outside the top 100/ranked 50-100. Is it possible to work in the big 10 (more specifically big 4) after working for a smaller firm? And how is the recruitment process at these smaller firms? I have two more first stage interviews scheduled with top 20 firms next month, but honestly I kind of already have given up hope getting those positions.
    I feel your pain as I'm in a similar situation, get to final round interviews/ AC's and always fall short.
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    (Original post by 999tigger)
    Interview technique. Go to your uni either the local one if they have a cross uni agreement or your old one.
    This is a good idea and I'm looking into it as we speak.


    You talk about communication skills.

    1. Do you understand interviews?
    2. Do you know what they want in the answers.
    Reading forums etc, I have a very good understanding about what is required at interviews, and pretty much have a bank of answers already prepare for pretty much every question which I've amassed over the past two years.


    4. Do you appreciate body language. Eye contact, listening, smiling, short direct answers, asjusting to the occasion, confidence, personaility. It comes naturally to some people whilst its hard for others, but you cna get better at it.
    This is a good point, I remember being rejected from an interview because I didn't make much eye contact. But otherwise I have been working very had to consciously take notice of my body language during interviews etc.
    5. Depression is a problem. Does it show in interview?
    This, I have no clue about. But it really has affected my life quite severely, especially since the weight gain. A lot of other factors which also affect my preparation for interviews (but thankfully after attending so many and having saved so much intel the preparation I need to do nowadays isn't a lot).

    But it has affected my mindset, I won't lie. Rejection after rejection has got to me after nearly two years.
    6. Weight? you cna lose it through a simple regime of diet and exercuse. I had that problem.
    Well I am a very fitness orientated person, I lift weight 3-4 times a week, and if anything the weight gain has also improved my lifts and added a bit of muscle, so one advantage is when I cut I should be a little bigger than before.


    have you thought of any things you cna do to improve? You have to improve and cnat stand still.
    Tbh I find it hard to see where I can improve from a technical point view. I have the academics, experience and sound commercial knowledge.

    You need to start believeing in youirself becayse unless you do, then you are going to have a hard yask of getting employers to believe in you.
    This is true, I have a mental block now. I just seem to have accepted defeat before interviews, I think it's impossible now to get a graduate scheme, after experiencing so many rejections.

    Good luck.

    ps your OP was very well laid out and had all the details.
    Thanks, I will fight like a spartan till the end. Even if it takes another 5 years to get onto a graduate scheme while working full time in retail if I decide to go back there.
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    1. You need to get some interview practice and feedback from an experienced interviewer.
    2. You are too close to the situation.
    3. Everyone can improve.
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    (Original post by Brapadoo)
    Even if it takes another 5 years to get onto a graduate scheme while working full time in retail if I decide to go back there.
    Don't get me wrong, grad schemes are great and you should try your best to get onto one, but they are not the be all and end all. If is better to get an entry level job and work your up than to endlessly chase this dream. There are many other ways into accounting.

    Every company has finance departments and whilst salaries will be lower than the Big 4, most will also support you during exams with much less pressure than the grad schemes. Smaller companies will recruit through agencies, even temping agencies. Once you have your foot in the door, impress with good, hard work and you can move on from there.

    Unfortunately grad schemes are very competitive and not everyone has the skill-sets to get through the recruitment process. But don't give up! Once you start working it really won't matter. It's like when you thought GCSEs were the most important thing in the world... until A-levels... until degree/university, until jobs. It's all the same.
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    It sounds like you know the problems you are facing but you need some ideas to get over these problems. Depression can be absolutely killer and you are probably downplaying that yourself, maybe just get some counselling and try to resolve that issue first, then you can start building your confidence.

    Also the jump into an office/accountancy job is much harder then is often suggested. I think you are probably aiming to high at such a point in your career, don't get me wrong its great that you have a lot of ambition, but you have to remember that it's not just about qualifications, its about experience in work environments as well. Just look at your work history, which is just retail experience, that's quite limited at this point and I know from my own personal experience a lot of firms look at work experience over qualifications. Personally I would look at just getting into an entry job just to get experience, even if its going to be somewhere that is likely going to be no fun for six months, at least you can then apply your qualifications to a work environment and talk about these skills in an interview.

    Regarding interviews I used to suffer with them until I learnt the power of having a portfolio. Instead of just going in and talking about what I can do blah blah blah, it looks a hell of a lot more impressive if you can show what you can do in an interview. I worked in a retail environment which had a customer feedback system, throughout my time working for this company I would make it my personal ambition to provide excellent customer service, I ended up receiving countless amounts of brilliant feedback from customers which I can now use in interviews to prove my communication and service skills. There are other ways of making this work, even if it's just getting a personal reference, at least you have gone out of your way. And remember to make plenty of copies in case you are interviewed by more then one person, something as small as that just shows your organisation skills.
 
 
 
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