1st Interview - Commercial Awareness

#1

I have a first interview (competancy based) with Deloitte coming up soon. I’m confident about most of the competancies, and have ideas for responses from a variety sources in my life (academia, sports, work experience, volunteer work etc).

However, I’m highly concerned about my commercial awareness and knowledge of business/finance/economics in general. I’m not from a finance related degree background, and I have only a layman’s knowledge (at best) of the commercial world. I have a nagging fear that I will be hopelessly out of my depth in the interview! I’m reasonably confident with my knowledge of audit and related topics (SOX etc), but the rest of the world of financial services is a terrifying unknown!

Does anybody have any suggestions of what to research, and where I can find the information?
For example, I obviously want to research Deloitte (and its rivals) in terms of where it is looking to expand into and what concerns it will face in the future, but have no idea about how and where to start. Also, knowing about Deloitte’s recent history is important, but again I’ve struggled to find information.

Other areas I hope to research include:

Structure of the ACA
Examples of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ companies, and why.
What makes a strong company
Current business stories (although this is worrying, obviously there is plenty to talk about with the recent banking developments and government plans, but I’m just not sure I understand the crisis in enough detail).

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!

#2

Hi Lukeb,

I recently attended a first interview in London for Audit. The interview is predominantly competency based so if you are confident on your examples, youre pretty much there. On the subject of commercial awareness- The interview lasted 90 minutes and I would say that only 10-15 minutes were spent on these types of questions. I was asked:

-Why Deloitte?

  • Why Audit?
  • Do you think the current economic and financial climate is a positive or negative thing for Deloitte? (on this question I said that this could turn out to be positive)

A small tip- when i was asked about any recent events that could affect Deloitte as a company I gave the example of the inevitable deluge of more regulation from the FSA. DO NOT JUST SAY “THE CREDIT CRUNCH”!!! My interviewer said that almost everyone he had interviewed that week had generalised in this way and he had become bored of that response. Try and think of a specific example and a specific area of Deloitte which could be affected.

Good luck my friend!!!

#3

Thanks, thats pretty reassuring! I intended to avoid the credit crunch wherever possible, pretty much for the reasons you described.

I was also thinking that if the economic downturn leads to an increase in businesses going down the drain, this may lead to increased administration fees for Deloittes etc? Eg, I understand that PWC have done quite well out of the Lehman collapse? This is however, just idle and probably uninformed speculation haha

#4

I’d like to add that the commercial awareness questions also assess your general communication skills and general interest. I think a good advice would be to find something that you feel comfortable talking about (and, possibly more importantly, interested in) and when faced with a “Have you seen anything interesting in the news” question use that example.

For example, during my 1st round with PwC (Assurance) I talked a lot about HMV and how it’s possible to improve their business (they were recently in the news about takeover of FOPP) that is something I was interested in, but although HMV are PWC’s client, what I was talking wasn’t DIRECTLY relevant to the job. I.e. it was more of a performance improving case study rather than an audit one.

Having written that, I just thought of another tip, try to avoid talking about something that the interviewer has a direct connection with (like working on HMV, in my case) because they are likely to know much more about it thatn you do and your knowledge holes will be much more evident.

2nd round interviews tend to focus much more on the commercial awareness than 1st round ones - in my partner interview he, literally, (for lack of a better word) asked me:
“Have you seen anything interesting in the news”
“Have you seen anything else interesting in the news”
“Have you seen anything else interesting in the news”
“Have you seen anything else interesting in the news”
At which point I wilted and ran away. From Audit. And PwC.

About Deloitte and competitors, try Google news, it’s surprisingly useful. Youtube may also have some videos that might come in handy. Recent history will be available on the website as a Yearly/Quarterly report or AGM summary. This will give you some info on turnover, awards and possibly client names.

Good luck

EDIT:
One question that I’ve been asked a couple of times is whether I could name any of the senior personnell at the firm. An abvious one would be the regional Head Partner or CEO. Also, make sure you know what, in Deloitte’s case, LLP stands for.

#5

More great advice there, much appreciated, I’ll look into it. I was thinking about throwing out the name of John Connolly if I was asked about senior figures, although I don’t know many other than that.

Your second round PWC interview sounds like the stuff nightmares are made of…

#6

how could the current economic and financial climate be a positive thing for Deloitte?

#7

Do you guys think there are any more recent things to mention. If they ask you for recent business news that you know about what kind would you pick? Anything or something related to their work and clients? I for example find the Small Business Loan Scheme or the Interest Rate Cut to 1.5% interesting. Do you think they would be good topics to talk about? If not, why?