Making partner at a Big 4 firm is a massive achievement that is very difficult to secure for two reasons: the gruelling Partner Panel Interview and the mistakes that partner candidates make before and during the interview. The bad news is that the interview is unavoidable. The good news, however, is that the mistakes are. In this blog, we outline the 5 most common mistakes that are made during the Partner Panel Interview stage.
Mistake 1: Not enough preparation beforehand
Given that in your Partner Panel Interview, you will be interrogated by a number of partners on the merits of your Business and Personal Case; you would assume that every partner candidate would over-prepare for this stage. In actual fact, not enough preparation is actually one of the most common places that candidates go wrong. If you have the time, your final rehearsal for your pitch needs to be 1-2 weeks before the big day, so be aware of the timeline and know that it is never too early to prepare! If you need help with preparations, read 6 tried and tested tips to prepare successfully for your partner panel interview and how to pinpoint the exact questions you are likely to be asked in your interview.
Mistake 2: Prioritising client work over preparing for the partnership panel interview
Another big mistake that partner candidates make at the Partner Panel Interview stage: is prioritising client work over getting ready for their partnership panel interview. Yes, you have work that needs to get done, but you also have a presentation and interview coming up that is essential to your career progression. Time management is key here. Dedicate time to both tasks every day and try to do this as early as you can before the date of your interview looms near. There is nothing more damaging than getting your work done and then working late into the night preparing for your pitch and not getting enough sleep, especially when it comes to the week of your Partner Panel Interview.
Mistake 3: Main selling points getting lost in too much detail
It can be tempting to add in detail and expand on points here or there when preparing for your pitch, but when this starts to engulf your main selling points so that they become forgotten, it becomes a big mistake. Build your 1-sentence sell and your 3-sentence sell, then base your pitch around these main selling points. In one sentence, sum up why the partnership should make you partner and then expand this into 3 clear selling points. Once you have these and you write your pitch around them, you won’t fall prey to trying to fit everything in, you will only include what is relevant to keep your 3 points front of mind. In our on-demand course, ‘How to create a cast-iron Business Case for Partnership‘ in our Progress To Partner membership site we show you how to construct your 3-sentence sell and your Executive Summary.
If you can condense your Business Case into a 1-pager document or Talk Sheet this helps you get real clarity. Download a template for your Talk Sheet here. It’s just another of our resources which are in Progress to Partner.
Mistake 4: Crowdsourcing pitch and Business Case documents
Asking questions and getting advice from partners is a great way to prepare for your Business Case presentation and pitch. When you apply too many changes because of feedback to the point where it no longer becomes your Business Case, however, that’s when it becomes a big mistake. When it comes to the presentation and Partner Panel Interview, you will have to talk about your Business Case and answer questions on it, so make sure that it is your own. Ask as many questions as you want and look at different examples of Business Case documents but don’t try and apply everything. Just use them as a guide to do your own work
Mistake 5: Getting defensive with tough questions
Partner Panel Interviews are supposed to be tough, there may be some resistance to your Business Case and challenging questions will be asked. It can be easy to become defensive in these moments, and many partner candidates get defensive. Which then can negatively impact how well the interview goes. How you handle these moments of confrontation can make or break your interview, so always try to prepare for these situations and practice them. During the interview, if they arise, take your time to take a deep breath and think about a positive way to respond. Think ‘Respond’ rather than ‘React.’ (Here’s how you can ace your interview!)
Don’t lose your chance to make partner because of one (avoidable) mistake
Not getting partner or simply not getting to the next round of the process can result from just one error. Most of the time, these errors aren’t due to inability but rather one of the avoidable mistakes that we have listed above; lack of preparation, poor prioritisation, applying too much feedback and getting lost in detail. Don’t let any of these silly mistakes lose you the chance to make partner.
What’s in Progress To Partner which will help you with your Partnership Panel Interview?
Progress to Partner is our membership site that will give your the knowledge AND confidence to fly through this final step up to partner.
It’s like a Netflix for your career in the professions. Find what you need to watch or read at the time you need it. Within the site you’ll find over 150+ courses, videos, checklists, templates and plans to help you progress your career to partner. Amongst the many curated resources (no more unnecessary scrolling or searching) you’ll find:
- On-demand courses on how to create and articulate your business case, including our most downloaded course “How to Build a Cast-Iron Business Case for Partner”
- A section on the Partnership Admissions process with guides and recordings to help you find your way through the process with your sanity intact.
- Recordings and checklists on how to ace your partner panel interview
- Sample slide deck to use to structure your presentation for your Partner Panel Interview
- Proven advice on how to still do the day job and find the time to get through the Partner Track process