Updated 24 May 2020
It is always essential for you to be able to comprehensively explain exactly what you will be doing in the job position you have applied for.
If you do not know what you will be doing, or are not able to explain what you will be doing, you are not employable. Employers will only hire people who understand exactly what a company does, exactly what they will be doing day to day and are able to explain exactly why they want to do this job.
If you have no knowledge of what you will be doing, you appear weak, incompetent and unemployable.
In your first year as an auditor your time will be split between working and studying. You may also travel frequently and may decide to become involved in extracurricular activities organised by your employer, such as sports teams and CSR operations.
Your work as a first year trainee will mainly involve "ticking and bashing", a term used to describe the mundane work that is an essential part of accountancy, but general fairly tiresome and long-winded. This work is generally undesirable, and is consequently mainly given out to new trainees.
Your work may involve checking invoices, checking reports, making sure two or more documents agree and other report and analysis based tasks. You may have to audit financial statements, verify the accuracy of data by checking other people's accuracy, completeness and consistency, and generally ensure that all records are a true and fair reflection of a business's performance.
You may also have to test controls to help a company mitigate against risks, check for compliance with IRFS and Sox 404 and chase up clients to find out about missing information or find out why there are inconsistencies, when they occur.
Chasing up clients can be monotonous and usually involves making many phone calls and sending follow-up emails.
You may also be asked to find specific documents or reports, check documents for spelling and grammar and to conduct miscellaneous office administration tasks.
During your first year/s you will also learn how to complete the simpler sections of an audit file and may even be given the opportunity to be solely responsible for a small audit (like a subsidiary or pension scheme) by the end of the year, among many other tasks. A lot will depend on the firm you work. Smaller firms often allow trainees to tak on more responsibility earlier than large firms.
Don't underestimate the importance at interview of demonstrating an understanding of the ticking and bashing side - a partner is likely to be impressed if you're aware of the not so interesting side to the job and can still display enthusiasm!
Point of note: At interview, do not underestimate the importance of demonstrating an understanding of the ticking and bashing side of your work as a first year trainee. A partner is likely to be impressed with you if you can still display enthusiasm for the job, even if you are aware of the less interesting side to the job.
First year accountancy trainees will usually study towards the ACA, ACCA, CIMA or other similar accountancy qualifications. Trainees may receive some training in-house (from managers at their company) although most training is usually delivered by a third party academic institution. Generally speaking, before exams or during heavy periods of study, accountancy practices will provide trainees with some time off to revise.
During your first years as an auditor it is likely you will spend some time travelling, either for meetings at client offices, or for extended periods of work at client offices.
Many employers, and in particular large graduate employers such as the Big 4 organise extracurricular groups, such as drama groups and sports groups. Employers like to hire "all-rounders" so it is worth discussing how you would like to get involved with more than just work during your time as a trainee. Employers are always keen to involve first year trainees in their graduate recruitment activities (such as attending careers fairs, internship mentoring, and conducting office tours for candidates during assessment days). Explaining you would like to be involved with this type of activity is also worth mentioning.
Many firms organise Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities, such as helping local charities at weekends. Employers like employees to get involved with these types of activities as much as possible because it reflects well on the firm as a whole so it is well worth mentioning how much you would like to get involved with CSR when you join a firm.