Hello everyone! I’ve recently been made an offer for an Audit position in KPMG and since this forum has helped a lot, I have decided to write up a COMPLETE guide to the whole process. Now this post will be very long because I am trying to explain in as much detail as possible. Before I move on, let me first say that some of the materials I post will be what I gathered throughout my research during my application process (from wikijobs and other forums) and some will be based on my personal experience.
A few tips first:
-Before you apply, make sure you have a good idea of all the stages in the application. Now this doesn’t mean you have to be well prepared for all stages in advance, but you need to have a general idea of what to expect next. The reason I say this is because you don’t want to start preparing for the next stage after knowing you passed the current stage (For instance, my partner interview was 3 days after my assessment centre, and I was informed about passing the AC the next day, so I only had 1 day to prepare for my final interview. Luckily, I prepared in advance)
-Always apply early! This is stressed very often but people always tend to overlook the importance of this. The vacancies are first come first serve, so apply as soon as you can!
Stage 1 : Application Form
This is very straightforward. Make sure all the details are filled in as accurately as possible. Generally you would require 2:1 and above in your degree so make sure your results are within the academic requirements. When filling in job experiences, make sure you think of the upcoming stages (telephone and partner interview). How can your work experiences demonstrate the qualities/competencies needed? Do you have enough to talk about if an interviewer asks you about one of your jobs? How relevant are your job experiences to the role applied? Now the reason I say this is because some of you might have a lot of part-time jobs, like me. In this case you need to think about which few to include and which not to. If I remember correctly I included about 4-5 part-time and internship experiences. One thing you need to note - if you do get to the final interview, the partner will be looking at your application form when interviewing you - so think ahead!
Now I did not have to fill in any motivation essays/questions and I’m not sure if you have to for some other roles, but I completed some for other companies and my general advice would be for you to demonstrate your knowledge about the company. Don’t pick something someone can find out in 5 minutes from reading the KPMG website - That might work, but you want to be really confident in your answers. Talk about what makes the company unique and why you really want to join. As a general guide, try to avoid using answers that can be applied to other companies (say Big 4) as well.
Generally, if your academic results meet the requirements and you have some work experiences (doesn’t have to be directly relevant), and there are still vacancies for the role you applied to,you should be able to get to the next stage.
Stage 2: Online Tests
First tip is definitely PRACTICE. It’s been mentioned a lot in this forum that there are a lot of practice tests you can find online in websites like assessmentday as well as free practice tests online. For both tests, time yourself. Try to complete practice tests with 1-2 minutes remaining, to allow for tough questions/your nerves when taking the actual test. Another tip I find very useful is not to pressure yourself. You don’t have to score above 18/20 to pass the test - so stop thinking that way! Tell yourself this - if the questions are tough, other candidates would not score high as well. If I can remain more calm than others taking the test, I will perform better. Same goes with the more time you put into practicing the tests.
Numerical Test : Get used to your calculator if you’re not. Grab a piece of paper and pen to write down any figures. Some questions will be easy, some questions will be tougher, so don’t panic if you are taking longer to complete a question - but know when to give up and move on to the next one. You can always come back to the question once you completed all the others. For example if I am doing 20 questions in 20 minutes (1 minute each), the maximum time I would spend on a tough question would be 3 minutes.
Verbal Reasoning Test : What I do is quickly read through the paragraph, read the question, get the first answer that comes to my mind, and confirm my answer by going back to reading that specific sentence in the paragraph. If there’s no intuitive answer, I read the paragraph a second time paying more attention. Once again, time management is important here. Know when to move on and pace yourself.
Situational Judgement Test : These can be really hard to grasp at times. Sometimes it’s hard to identify the correct answers. Even for my SJT there were questions that I wasn’t sure at all about. Once again, do not set the bar too high, do not pressure yourself. 1-2 bad answers would not affect your whole test. There are a few things I think about when doing SJTs -
Firstly, am I being polite to all the parties (my colleague, my manager, my client)?
Is this solution effective? (Am I just passing the responsibility on to someone else? Am I delaying the whole process? Is this the best way to solve the problem?)
Am I choosing the option that benefits my company the most? (Least chance of upsetting the client/your manager, Best way to strengthen relationships, Am I causing extra workload to my colleagues/manager?)
Once again I should repeat, for all 3 tests - PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT.
Stage 3: Telephone Interview
The work here is simple - the more questions you practice, the better you are. Use bullet points when writing down answers and try to use your own sentences. Best way to practice here is to ask yourself the question and answer (thinking of possible follow-up questions at the same time). I shall include all the questions I prepared and those that I was asked:
Why KPMG? Why not the other big four?
Why Audit? What will I do day-to-day in Audit? Explain more about the ACA qualifications.
Tell me about a time when you had to manage multiple deadlines. (Explain how did you prioritize, what criteria you used to decide which tasks to do first, what was the result)
Tell me about a company doing well/not well and give me 4 reasons why. (Prepare 2 companies doing well/not well to be safe. Possible follow-up question - For the company doing well, what challenges might they face in the future? For the company not doing well, how can they improve? What are their opportunities?)
What are the factors affecting businesses in the UK in the past 2 years? What is the biggest problem and the sector most affected?
Tell me about a time you gave exceptional customer service?
Tell me about a time you followed an approach you didn’t agree with. Why did you agree to follow it? Was it the right decision?
Tell me a time you faced a challenge/overcame an obstacle. What would you do different? What was the hardest part?
Tell me about an achievement that you are proud of.
Tell me a time when you have to do repetitive/boring work.
Tell me a time you have to deal with an angry customer.
Tell me a time when you have had to show initiative on a project?
Tell me a time where you took lead of a project, the outcome?
Tell me a time you under-performed. Give a time when you have faced a setback. How did you deal with this?
Client wanted to see an incomplete report, company rules and regulations requires a manager to review the report before sending it out. (Follow up - What if you showed them and they disagree with the report?)
Colleague challenges your method during a client presentation. What would you do?
Important report to write by tomorrow close of play and also got a meeting tomorrow morning. A senior colleague emails to ask you to analyze some data by the close of play today. What would you do?
On a client site doing repetitive checking and you’ve almost finished when your boss emails to ask you to check them all again to make sure, how do you respond?
If a UK company wants to expand into another country, what are some issues they should look into/be aware of? How would you obtain the info?