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Tips to success in the milk round

Chartered Careers

Each year all the leading firms go on campus to attract new trainees into the chartered accountancy profession – referred to as the ‘milk round’. This note has been prepared by Ronan O’Loughlin, Director of Education and Training, to support potential candidates with ensuring a successful engagement:

“One of the main questions I am asked on college campuses on the ‘milk round’ recruitment process is for tips to ensure success. Here are a few suggestions that will help you secure that training contract position with your preferred firm.

Do your research: Applicants need to review the firm’s website and understand the firm’s preferences and areas of business. This is all readily available on the various firm websites. You will often be asked to describe current business issues. Make sure you have considered some from the media, ideally linking the story to the firm you are talking to.

Complete the application: I have received comments from firms before of typos being made in applications, for example an application sent to KPMG including statements like ‘I would like to work in EY because…’! You should consider having someone proofread your application before submitting it.

Use your supports: The career offices in college/friends who are already employed in firms are very useful sources of information. You should consider making contact well in advance to assist you in doing your research and getting supports such as practice interviews etc.

How to prepare: Preparation is the key to your application and for ultimate interviews. You need to think about your experiences and learnings and how these can be used to support your application and interview. Often I have met students who say ‘but I have no relevant experience’ or who write themselves off on their lack of experience. The key skill is to generate examples which link to the firm in question. For example, ‘I did a project on Ryanair in my course and I learnt X, I understand you do the audit of Ryanair and I would love to apply what I have learnt from this assignment’. Experience working in a pub can be of benefit if you can talk of dealing with difficult customers etc. Experience on the playing field or similar provides useful examples of how you have coped under pressure and how you have practiced teamwork.

Answers for top 10 questions: You can google the top 10 interview questions and then write out your answers for each. Having written this it can be edited and then practiced in terms of delivery. Ideally you should practice with others and even in front of a mirror!

Paint a memorable picture: A key issue which ensures success is your ability to ‘paint a picture’ of a particular experience which will hopefully remain with the interviewer. Examples of work assignments/volunteering etc. can be used to ensure you are ‘memorable’.

Entry criteria: The larger firms use strict A Level/Leaving Cert criteria to screen applicants. Overall firms are only interested in academic performance as an indicator of future exam success. If a student has poorly performed they should have a reason for this; ‘playing for the rugby team’ etc.

Key issues: Interviewers want to know you will ‘fit in’ (so have examples of what you have done that demonstrate how you have tackled difficult colleagues in group work/dealt with multiple commitments etc.  Essentially the best guide to your future performance is how you have performed in the past.

Make multiple applications: Being resilient is key – expect to be turned down but identify the supports you have (family connections, careers office, friends who have gone ahead of you). Do seek feedback from the firm post interview and see what you might do better next time around. Many firms will return to the market later in the year so keep in touch and visit the Training Vacancies page on the Institute website.

Other options: There are other options such as training in industry or our flexible route. Employers will be impressed if you do clear your exemptions and register with the Institute so take the plunge…..”

Ronan O’Loughlin
Director of Education and Training
Chartered Accountants Ireland

For more information get in touch with our careers team today to see where Chartered Accountancy can take your career;
(ROI) 1890 28 29 28 (9-5 Mon-Fri)
(NI) 0044 28 9043 5840 (9-5 Mon-Fri)
Email: info@charteredaccountants.ie