I’ve just been informed that I have made it through to the Assessment Centre stage for KPMG. As part of my preparation for the phone interview, I scoured Wikijob forums for useful information regarding what to expect, took whatever I could find, and compiled a bank of questions (including situational questions). I then prepared answers for all of the questions so that I’d be unlikely to get caught out during the interview. I thought some of you might find my bank of questions useful, so, here it is:
Why did you apply?
Why do you want to be an X (graduate role / occupation)?
Why did you choose X University?
Which modules did you take?
What are your interests?
Where do you see yourself in five years?
A new skill you have learnt recently
Describe a goal that you have set for yourself in the last year
An experience or piece of work you are proudest of?
Why are you proud of it?
What challenges did you face?
What did you learn that you could apply to your future work?
What would people at work say are your best characteristics?
What would people at work say are your worst characteristics? (be honest, but put a positive spin on them)
What do you do to keep up with the news?
Discuss an item from the news, whether business or economics.
How could PwC / KPMG / Deloitte / EY get involved in that and generate new business?
Tell me about the broader issues the economy is currently facing
Over the past 2 years what factors have been affecting businesses in the UK?
What issues are professional firms currently facing?
What recent developments have affected PwC / KPMG / Deloitte / EY and the accounting industry?
Tell me about a company that’s doing well at the moment
What are the challenges it faces?
How might it minimise risk?
What difficulties might a company have when wanting to expand internationally?
What would be the most important one?
Give an example of a company that wants to expand abroad. What issues will it face?
How would you assess whether the expansion was successful?
How do you measure the success of a business?
A company that is underperforming and four reasons why? (when they ask for four, they mean it!)
Which is the most important reason?
How can the company improve?
What risks are there involved in this?
What potential opportunities are there for this company moving forward?
Which clients do PwC / KPMG / Deloitte / EY work with?
In which industries are PwC / KPMG / Deloitte / EY involved?
What do you know about PWC / KPMG / Deloitte / EY and the current issues it is facing?
In what area can PwC / KPMG / Deloitte / EY improve and why?
What impacts will regulatory change have on PwC / KPMG / Deloitte / EY in the future?
What is your understanding of PwC / KPMG / Deloitte / EY’s strategy?
In terms of PwC / KPMG / Deloitte / EY’s strategy, how does this align with your personal values?
Why did you choose PwC / KPMG / Deloitte / EY?
Why did you choose X (service line / graduate role) and not XYZ?
How confident are you about your decision and why? (with respect to graduate role)
What other training/learning opportunities are on offer within PwC / KPMG / Deloitte / EY?
What makes PwC / KPMG / Deloitte / EY different from the other three?
Why does this make you want to work for PwC / KPMG / Deloitte / EY? (definitely mention awards they’ve won, as well as anything notable that distinguishes them)
What are the best/worst things about X (service line / graduate role?)
How does X (service line) fit into PwC / KPMG / Deloitte / EY’s other service lines?
What will be the least enjoyable thing about working in X (service line)?
What do you think you’ll be doing during your first year at PwC / KPMG / Deloitte / EY?
What commitments would you have to make to PwC / KPMG / Deloitte / EY?
What would your biggest challenge be if you were to join PwC / KPMG / Deloitte / EY?
What are the day-to-day activities of a graduate in X (service line / graduate role)?
Are you aware of what the qualification involves?
Where would you like your career to progress?
How are you going to achieve this?
What opportunities do you think PwC / KPMG / Deloitte / EY will provide?
How are you going to achieve your professional qualification?
Describe a time when you built a relationship with someone outside your usual circle
How exactly did you start the relationship?
How did you maintain it, and/or how did you benefit from it?
Did you encounter any problems with that person?
Describe a time when you had to change your approach to something
A time you had to solve a complex problem
A time you asked for feedback
A time you were given negative feedback
A time you had to do something with no supervision
A time when you had to work with a difficult person / customer
A time when you had to report someone
A time when you were asked to lie
A time you had to follow instructions (rules) carefully
A time you had to work on several projects at the same time to meet a deadline
A time you had to take on different roles while working on a project
A time you had a conflict with a colleague
A time when you had to accommodate a difference of opinion when working in a team
A time you had to complete a repetitive task
A time you had to let someone down
A time when you dealt with an issue diplomatically
A time you had to deliver under pressure
A time when you had to coach someone after a poor performance
A time when you had to step in and take the initiative
A time when you had to adjust your approach after a sudden change in objectives
A time when you had to manage a team
A time when you had to perform on your own
A time you overcame a problem
How did you overcome the problem?
What was the outcome?
When have you worked under pressure?
How did you cope under pressure?
What was the outcome of this pressure situation?
Tell me about a time when you just had to give up
Tell me about a time when you worked extra hard on something
How do you motivate yourself when a task becomes daily routine?
Describe the most challenging situation you’ve had to deal with and the ways you dealt with it
Describe a situation in which you thought of a new or creative way of dealing with a problem
Describe a time when you encountered an especially difficult project
Describe your most successful effort in promoting teamwork within a group and how they responded
Describe a situation in which your work or one of your ideas was criticised
How did you respond?
Describe a situation in which you’ve shown a great deal of initiative
Describe a situation in which you had to adapt to a new way of working and didn’t like it
Describe a situation in which you had to challenge someone’s way of doing something
Describe a situation in which the plan changed and you had to change your approach
What did you do and what was the result?
Tell me about a time when something didn’t go to plan
How did you solve the problem?
When have you worked well in a team?
What was your role?
What did you contribute to the success of the team?
How did you influence the team?
Were there any conflicts?
How did you resolve them?
What would you do next time?
What makes a good leader?
When have you shown leadership skills?
Why was it necessary?
What challenges did you face?
Have you ever used another’s performance to judge your own?
How do you adapt?
How could you negotiate?
How could you prioritise?
How could you convince someone of your potential?
Why have you chosen that approach?
Tell me about a time you convinced someone of your ideas
When have you interacted with a customer?
What did you think of the customer’s reaction?
How would you react if you were in that situation?
Tell me about a time when you delivered excellent customer service
How did it make you feel?
Why is good customer service important?
How did this affect the business?
How would you make sure a client received the best service available?
How would you handle a junior member of the team openly criticising your presentation technique in front of an important client?
How would you handle a senior member giving you extra work when you already have numerous imminent deadlines?
I haven’t had an interview with EY so don’t take my word here as gospel, but as far as I know, EY aren’t so keen on the standard competency-based questions, so they may ask questions along these lines:
What are you good at?
What comes easily to you?
What do you learn quickly?
What did you find easiest to learn at school or university?
What subjects do you most enjoy studying?
What things give you energy?
Describe a successful day you have had.
When did you achieve something you were really proud of?
Do you prefer to start tasks or to finish them?
Do you find you have enough hours in the day to complete all the things you want to do?
What things are always left on your to-do list and not finished? These are probably weaknesses: things you dislike doing!
What do you enjoy doing the least? These are likely to be areas where you lack natural aptitude or skills.
You have very strict guidelines as to how your projects should be handled, and you were told that you could only pass any of your work on to the client after having had at least two of your senior colleagues proofread it. You are working on the client site and your client really wants to see the review that you have been working on. It would take some time for it to be proofread but your client wants to see it immediately. What would you do?
If you were working on a project with a tight deadline and a client called and asked you a difficult question that would require a lot of time to answer fully, how would you handle it? How would you make sure there were no setbacks on a client project?
You have just finished a task and you are planning to do some preparation for a new task today, but suddenly you get an email from the previous client stating some issues about the previous task and they want your assistance today. What would you do?
You are working on an important and complex project which involves sorting through a lot of detailed paperwork. This makes the probability of error quite high. You are working in a team of four, and as a team you report to a senior manager. It isn’t quite clear where you should begin with the project. What would be your action in this situation?
You’ve been working on a task for a client for quite some time. While you have enjoyed the project, you have found the work monotonous and repetitive and you are happy to have finished the task. You are looking forward to starting a new project tomorrow which will be fast paced and every day will count, but if you are successful it will be very worthwhile. When you arrive at work, you receive an email from your manager from the previous project, informing you that part of your work is incomplete and needs to be redone. How do you react in this situation? How would you keep up to date with the new project?
You are working as part of a team of four and are asked to deliver a report. You are given a very large volume of very detailed material which you are to use to help you compile the report. The workload between the four of you is muddled and there is a high risk of error due to the volume of material and the high level of detail. How would you handle this situation?
You are working in a team with a lot of paperwork and electronic files. You need to compile a document containing the most important information for a client. Your team reports to a senior manager. Talk me through what you would do. How would you ensure the work is high quality?
You have just come on to an engagement that is running smooth and on target but you notice your colleague is not following the procedures and guidelines for the task. What would you do?
Notes on the KPMG phone interview:
It was quite difficult to hear what the interviewer was saying. It was as if the interviewer didn’t have her microphone volume turned up high enough or something. There was a small amount of background noise, but it wasn’t too distracting. The connection seemed to drop out momentarily before being re-established now and then. This happened at several points during the interview. During these brief moments I couldn’t hear anything coming from the interviewer’s end at all. It was quite unnerving. The nerves got to me and I know this adversely affected my performance. Nonetheless, I passed the interview stage so I know it wasn’t a trainwreck. So my advice would be: try to stay cool and collected, as it will help you think clearly, which in turn will help you express yourself clearly.
Hope this helps.