Does it come down your personality?


I have just found out I got rejected after getting to the final round at a Big four. I spent ages preparing for my interview, made sure I knew several commercial awareness subjects I could talk abut, rehearsed my presentation, in other words I couldn’t have been more prepared. I thought my partner interview went so well, I thought we genuinely got along and I left the assessment centre feeling like I had done well.

But today I get an email saying I’ve been rejected. It makes me wonder, do the Big Four have a certain type of person they prefer? I know this will be a bit controversial but I really want to ask people who are going into this industry about what they think of this. The partner interview is suppose to be more of a personality assessment from what I have heard. So is failing at partner interview a way of saying they do not like your personality?

Is there a certain type of person the Big Four like recruiting?


How did I act? I thought I came across as very friendly, genuine, easy-going. Is this why I am being rejected? Should I tone it down and act a bit more distant? Is that is meant by polite professionalism? Is this what they generally want?


Phone and ask for feedback…use the 0500 number you find on the website…they will give you a score out of 5 for each competency…then you’ll know where you went wrong. And they’ll be very nice about it too.

To be honest I found the whole KPMG process very objective and MUCH less personality focused than a lot of job interviews I have gone to…particularly in law which can leave you feeling completely battered at the end of an unsuccessful round!

BUT there is an element of “would you fit?” this IS subjective to a certain extent but at the same time does not mean you have a “bad personality” just it was the wrong job and you probably (almost definitely) would nto have enjoyed your work anyway.

Good luck…you will succeed eventually!



oops sorry for some reason I thought you applied KPMG…maybe saw that somewhere else.

In any case they all have the same ind of feedback process…I think…


I think it does come down to how you are as a person. Most interviewers will make a judgement of you within minutes of meeting you, just like you probably form judgements of people you meet on a daily basis.

Regardless of professionalism and selection techniques, HR staff and managers are still human, and personal preference will pay a large part in the selection process.

I.e take 2 candidates X and Y. If X > Y with regards to commercial awareness, Y could still level the gap with a personality that the interviewer is more receptive to. Remember, the company will be looking for candidates that will fit well in the organisation.

The personality factor will be important throughout your career. A good example is candidate is an inferior candidate X climbing up the corporate ladder faster than superior candidate Y, due to Xs close relationship with senior management. Unfortunately, this kind of bias will always be present in the world of employment.


I think I come across as a loud person whos outgoing and what I am worried about is if this is what is disadvantaging me. I am wondering if I am supposed to tone it down and become quieter? Polite, does the work, but quiet? Is that what the Big 4 are looking for? I don’t have the answers so I am asking you guys. Its even more demoralising because the partner seemed to like the answers I gave and we talked at length about my personal background, only to get a rejection…


You can’t guess the09…and you’ll drive yourself crazy guessing…really…I’ve done it!

You can probably get some ideas from feedback though…e.g. if you know you are “loud” and you got a 1 or a 2 for a “Building relationships” type competency you know you are probaly a bit off putting to others…however if you also got a 4 for something like “Leadership” in the same AC you know your approach has benefits but needs modification…

If you get a 2 for both you know it’s not working and will need to think of alternatives…

It’s the only thing you can do really to improve as there WILL always be some level of bias on the “right fit” as reg says but you can’t legislate for that…except play more golf maybe :wink:



Good thread. Good input people.

I’d say, essentially it is very possible you were rejected because of personality.

Personality is highly important, and at partner interview level, probably the most important factor between getting and not getting the job. If you are very loud by nature and are applying for a role in accountancy, which is by reputation very sombre, conscientious and serious, even if the partner likes you but they do not think you’d fit in with the company culture or company teams, you won’t get hired.

I was actually talking a the head of graduate recruitment for a large retailer last week, and they specifically said that “nothing matters more than personality” - they’d hire someone with lower grades than usual, if they like the person and think they’d fit well in a team.

Whatever personality type you are - it’s fine, but to get the advantage in interviews you might want to tone down, or tone up certain aspects of your personality. For example, I’m a more relaxed personality type, but when I went for interviews for sales positions I made sure I was very outgoing and chatty, very enthusiastic, etc. Perhaps you need to do the opposite?

Good luck - definitely call PwC for feedback.


You definitely have to modify a bit yes…but how do you find out what they want? That was always my problem too…and like I said you can’t drive yourself mental guessing.

Apart from feedback (GET IT!) you could also ask some people who have a good/informed opinion of both you and the profession too…

For example I have a friend of a friend who recurits for an industry I was after…who interviewed me informally and let me know why I was probably drawing blanks with a great (imho!) CV…

It was my general outlook, career motivation and yes, elements of personality!

BUT bear in mind my/your personality is made up in part of those elements of what you want, what you need etc to be yourself and be happy. His take was really that he had no idea why I was going for those jobs anyway…I would hate them apparently!

It’s just a question of knowing what you want, who you are and getting the balance between being true to yourself, playing the game AND getting it right on the day!


sorry for typos and “probably” instead of always…v tired…off now.


I will get my feedback tomorrow, but I do think as some people have said, that personality is a big factor. So I am rethinking things a little. I am going to put this across as carefully as possible.

Before, I used to think they (well the Big 4 at least since they are the ones I am applying to) like people who you would consider quite chatty, very ‘people-oriented’, people who would generally be able to have a conversation with just about anyone. I guess you would call people like this very loud i.e. you know when they are around. Do you think this might not be the case?

At the assessment centre, it was with KPMG btw, we were taken out to lunch by some new joiners and I made conversation with them, talked about their work life, KPMG, uni, travel, all safe topics. And at my partner interview I certainly didn’t go slapping him on the back going ‘maaaate!’ but I was quite relaxed and we talked about my background for a bit because it is a bit unusual.

But since I wasn’t successful, maybe for the next interview I have coming up, I should maintain that ‘professional distance’, where I stick to safe topics like the weather, etc? Very polite and friendly but nothing more? Along the lines of the ‘stereotypical accountant’, for lack of a better phrase. Would this be a better strategy to use? Do they fit better into the subdued Big 4 offices? Would I be right in thinking this?


its probably better to be more sociable than anti sociable! i’m very very shy and quite insecure as a person, so i had to shed that for interviews. Its strange, because I can see myself becoming someone different in interviews and assessment centres. i talk to the candidates a lot more, and just force myself to say something that seems friendly! to a certain extent you do have to be flexible with your personality and how you come across, and in my case its for the better, as it kinda sucks to be shy! i would first get the feedback and then decide on how you can improve!
good luck!


I think you are worrying too much about it. Find out what competency you didn’t do so well in - that will tell you which part of the assessment center you need to work on.

Its entirely possible that it wasn’t related to personality. But while we are on the subject, I don’t think they are looking for a specific type of person but as mentioned earlier I would avoid extremes.


I got my feedback. I passed all competencies but one. The one I failed was career motivation. A bit surprised, because I even mentioned that there were five stages to getting the ICAS/CIOT and named the final stage (test of professional expertise).

Not really sure what to think, the partner asked where I think I will be in five years and I said I would be qualified and hopefully promoted to Manager. Was this the wrong answer? Maybe that’s why?


Well that’s good news!

Your self-proclaimed “loudness” is obviously no problem at all in building relationships or in delivering effective leadership! or indeed in making an impact…the areas I think your personality would most affect.

On the other hand it would also have some input on “career motivation” as this is interview-assessed (see reg above).

However a fail on the (afaik) usually means less that you are not into accountancy/know what it is and more that you are not closely enough aligned with KPMGs values …e.g. strong people focus, focus on team achievement, commitment to CSR, hard work for great rewards…(all on website)…

They might also have wanted you to be a bit more forward about staying with KPMG in 5 years as that’s a big thing for them spending on grads in the current climate…

But definitely definitely good feedback…you’ve not go much to worry about on the basics especially if you got a couple of 4s in there!

Well done and good luck with the next one!




I’ve got my KPMG AC on monday, its for audit in Manchester. I was just wondering if you could give a little bit of info on the topic of the group discussion that you encountered? I know you can’t really prepare for it but I was wondering whether it is similar to the style of the presentation i.e. things to improve the company as a whole, or as has been noted in a few threads on here, whether it is specific i.e. improve customer services?
Finally, will you put up a post of ur experiences on the day? It’s true that we often learn more from failure than from success (little consolation I know) From the sounds of things you did really well, and career motivation is tough thing to get right because some people are motivated by salary, others by promotion, others by the prestige of working for such a company, maybe the partner just had different feelings from you. I wouldn’t worry at all about it, its a personal issue as to why you want to do what you want to do and maybe KPMG felt that it was they who were not right for you rather than you not being right for them.


I will write up my experiences later today, maybe some can learn from my mistakes…


My experience of the group task:

You are each given a booklet on a company and you have ten minutes to read it individually. Then you have to work together and come up with strengths, weaknesses and then four recommendations in a presentation. Make sure you read the booklet from cover to cover. Skim through the graphs, get an idea of general trends but don’t spend too long on it. Focus on the letters of correspondence and reports towards the back. If someone steps in first and starts leading, take the opportunity and say you will help with the time-keeping. Gets you points. I got the feeling the presentation itself doesnt matter, it is how you worked together as a team in the lead up to the presenting.

Get everyone involved. Do come up with ideas yourself and your opinions, but don’t look as if you are forcing them on the others e.g. “Guys I thought of xxx idea, what you do think of it?” Look like a team player basically.

For the partner interview, I would suggest reading several business issues to show commercial awareness. DONT USE THE WORDS ‘CREDIT CRUNCH’ they have heard it a million times and it probably does their head in.

For commercial awareness I read about an issue related to the department I was applying for specifically, then an issue affecting professional services in general, and then a broader economic issue. Have several to talk about.

The partner has some questions he is told to ask you but for a good amount of the time we just talked about my personal background because it is a bit unusual. He did ask me what I know about the qualifications I will be studying for, and where I will be in five years from now.

For your presentation, you are so much better off choosing a company you are interested in and you know well in terms of how it operates and the broader external factors that affects its operations. I got asked some very in depth questions about the company I used, and I have no doubt if I chose one that I did not know as well it could have made things messy.

Make sure you mention ways KPMG can help the company as well.

That’s about it, hope it helps, and if you get the job ask them to save me a place for next year… !!


the09, thank you for your experience :slight_smile:


This is a really good thread, Thank you the09 and everyone else.

I’m in the exact same position as the09 was. I made sure that I got on with the partner and thought because he seemed an outgoing type and used swear words and was super relaxed making tea and introduced himself saying alwight? etc that I was not as nervous and maybe felt subliminally that it was more informal.

Although humour I think can be used to build more rapport with the interviewer. I have learnt for next time that I will not say anything that may make them laugh. I have to act more serious (even though I feel I do) because serious is professional. I’ll ring the partner tomorrow to see exactly what I did wrong

It’s really hard to stay motivated, espeically when you think you’ve done well in the interview and answered all the questions properly.

Also, If a partner’s name is John Smith and he introduces himself as John, do you call him John or Mr. Smith? I always would say John but I think that I must be wrong and maybe that added to the fact they thought I was informal