I had my Partner Interview today for a position in Audit UK&I at Ernst and Young, Nottingham Office. I thought I would write up my experience of the interview to help anyone who has a Partner Interview coming up.
I would however say that it is my personal view that the structure of the Partner interview totally depends on the person who interviews you. Therefore my experience may differ substantially from a Partner interview at another office or with another Partner.
My interview was with a Director at the Nottingham Office and lasted for around an hour. The interview was very much a two way process. The Director asked me some questions, I was free to ask him questions and he gave me some general information about the firm. This included what they expect and what I should expect from them. The interview was very much structured as a conversation, whereby the Director could get to know me and I could learn more about the firm. I found this much better than interviews at other companies whereby the interviewer has a set list of questions which are asked, then as you speak your answers are noted down.
In this sense the Partner interview is different from the Ernst and Young first interview. I wasn’t asked any competency based questions, and the questions that I was asked followed on from my performance at the Assessment Centre. The focus was very much on whether I would fit in with the firm’s way of working and the people in general. The Director had a form to fill in some details of what I was saying, but he ignored this and just recorded anything relevant on a piece of paper.
The interview started with a question on why I had chosen to apply to the Nottingham office. This was followed by the standard opening question for a Partner interview, which is, tell me about yourself? Here I talked about my schooling and university life and finished by explaining why I had decided to go for a career in accountancy. The Director then looked over my grades from University and went through some of my strengths that had been highlighted at the Assessment Day. He then moved on to my weaker areas and asked me why I thought I hadn’t done as well in these areas at the Assessment Day.
He then gave me some information about Ernst and Young as a firm within the UK and globally and talked about its aspirations for the future. I was then asked why I wanted to work at Ernst and Young? and why I had applied to Audit? Here I mentioned the qualifications the firm offers, its position in the top four, and the impression of the firm I had from the First Interview and the Assessment Centre. For why Audit? I mainly focused on the client facing aspect of the job which I believe to be one of my strongest areas. I was also asked what I thought would be most challenging about working at Ernst and Young?
After this the Director gave me some information about the clients that Ernst and Young has, and how the firm is organised in the Midlands. This focused on how the Birmingham and Nottingham offices work closely together across all its clients in the Midlands area. This was followed by a question on how adaptable I would be at working with new and different people. He also asked whether I had a driving license, which I don’t think you will be discriminated against if you don’t, but he seemed to suggest that it would be a lot easier to move between client sites if you did.
The Director then talked about the kinds of hours a graduate is expected to work in a week. I was asked how this compared to jobs I had had in the past and to my expectations of what the job entailed. He then revisited my academic background and highlighted the level of practical application the job entails. He asked me whether I thought I would be good at applying what I learnt in the training to the job itself. They want to see that you’re an all rounder and not just book smart.
He also explained the opportunities for career development and outlined the possibility of being fast tracked to Partner for those showing exceptional progress in their work. I was then asked how I would see my career progressing at Ernst and Young? if I was made an offer.
I was also asked if I had applied to any other firms, which I think you just have to answer honestly as they don’t expect you to put all your eggs in one basket. I said that I had applied to the top four and left it at that. He said that was a common answer and one which is probably expected. He also asked whether I had any family ties to accountancy, which is a simple enough question to answer.
Finally he asked if I had any questions for him, which he dually answered and this ended the interview. I was told that someone from the recruitment team would contact me within the next few days to let me know the outcome.