Hello to all current and future peeps!
I know that there are quite a few threads already for Ernst & Young (as I have also left comments on them) but I’ve decided to put yet another one out there incorporating everything I know from application form stage to final offer for audit. Also, a lot of the threads are a year or two old now so all the following information should be applicable for 2011 applications! And for Scotland as I note that a lot of the comments come from English jobseekers so just to confirm that Scotland isn’t any different
So to begin, just your usual application but they don’t make it easy! It talks about GPA which is obviously not a UK standard and I’m under the impression that a GPA of 7.5, for example, would not be equivalent to 75% so I decided to leave this blank. There are a few other bits that aren’t the simplest to follow but just fill it in the best you can, it’s just standard info like personal details, jobs, grades etc. I believe the character limit when it comes to typing in your grades is 1000 including spaces so you need to be careful with your choice of words i.e. I abbreviated standard grades to SG etc.
The three questions you should get are:
How do you support others in a team situation? Use examples to show this.
Do you seek out challenges to stretch yourself? Use examples to show why.
Why can other people rely on you? Give specific examples to illustrate.
Nothing else I can remember about the application form I’m afraid so doubt there was anything too confusing.
I submitted my application on a Sunday night and awaited a phone call to let me know that I was successful at the application stage (ever the optimist :-)). However, after logging into my emails on the Tuesday, I just about had a heartattack when I seen one from E&Y because at that stage I was under the impression that I would receive a phone call to let me know I was successful and an email if I wasn’t. Not so. Another change for this year is that you are no longer exempt from the online tests if you are studying an accounting/math/business degree as was the case in previous years. So much to my relief but also dread, the email confirmed that I was successful at the application stage but I had three days in which to sit the online tests to progress to the next stage. The email also informed me that should I not sit these tests within three days, they would take that as my withdrawal from the application process…no pressure! Haha!
So E&Y now use Saville Consulting as their test provider. Nowhere near as hard as what I am led to believe SHL, PSL etc to be. However, I feel the test in these is the time limit which may sound obvious but…
You have to do verbal, numerical and logical aptitude tests. If you log in to the test not meaning to (I did, wasn’t aware one of the links would actually take me straight into the test) don’t panic. Just phone graduate recruitment as soon as you can and explain you didn’t mean to start and they’ll re-set it for you just in case it has registered as you beginning. So the test is split into the three sections. You get verbal practice questions then two sets of 4 questions to be answered in 3 minutes each. You have as much time as you want to do the practice questions but then once you start the actual test, you can click finish if you finish the questions before 3 minutes and then it will ask you to move to the next section which it will actually do automatically after a few seconds so don’t think you can have a mini break in between the two sets. So you get two sets for each section, 8 verbal questions in 6 minutes, 8 numerical in 6 minutes and 8 logical in 6 minutes. But like I said, not too difficult, just a little bit of time pressure as the timings are quite short.
So having completed them on the Wednesday night (convinced I’d failed lol apparently online tests bring out the pessimist in me), I received a phone call on the Thursday afternoon to set up a first interview…no mention of my online tests or how I’d done. Safe to say I was cheesing! They actually wanted to set it up for the following Monday but I was out of the country so got it set up for the Tuesday after that.
As I’m sure most of you will know (and for those of you who don’t) E&Y run a strengths based interview, muuuch less stressful than a competency based one (in my opinion and in many others). They have a booklet of questions that they ask you, most people seem to think it’s around 30. So the sorts of questions asked/you should be prepared for are:
Why have you chosen audit?
Should there be more hours in the day?
Tell me about your group of friends?
Do you find yourself bridging the gap between different groups of friends?
Do you talk to different groups of friends differently?
Is there a company/brand you admire? What question would you ask them?
Do you enjoy working in a team?
Have you ever wanted to quit something?
Do you give up easily?
Do you work at something to get to the heart of the matter or just leave it?
Have you ever put the needs of a team before your own?
Do you consider what impact your actions will have on a team?
Have you ever done something differently second time around?
Have you ever built a relationship with anyone?
How do you build relationships with people?
Do you prefer starting or finishing?
Do you need to be an expert at something in order to lead a team?
Do you prefer quick action or careful planning?
How do you know your strengths and weaknesses?
What do you think your strengths and weaknesses are? How do you know this?
How would a lecturer describe you?
Would a friend say you are organised?
What do you call a good day?
How do you deal with a boring task?
How do you make others feel confident in your abilities?
How do you make sure you always do your best?
What have you contributed to a team to help their success?
Have you ever used what you know to improve a situation?
How do you stay motivated?
How do you handle working with someone you don’t like?
Have you ever had to go out of your way to help someone?
When have you persuaded someone?
Do you keep your promises?
Do you enjoy hard work?
Do you ask for more responsibility?
Do you plan your week?
What is your biggest achievement?
Are you a good listener?
Do you like listening to people?)
What do you do when you don’t find a task interesting?
How do you stay motivated?
How do you solve a problem?
How do you make sure you understand a concept/idea?
Do you prefer learning theory or putting it into practice?
Do you think it’s better to fully understand an idea or apply it straight away?
What would you do if you found yourself in a room full of people with different interests?
What do you think makes a good concept/theory?
How do you deal with people who waste your time?
Do you get annoyed by people who waste your time?
How do you keep up with current business issues?
I obviously didn’t get all of these questions but it would be a good idea to prepare for them. If your prepared for these then you shouldn’t have any trouble answering a few unexpected questions but I definitely didn’t get any commercial awareness questions in my first interview. Not giving any answers here as I think this is enough of a help.
My interviewer was very helpful in the sense that she told me she would help me along if I wasn’t giving enough of an answer (i.e. if I didn’t really give a specific example and she wanted one). She also stopped at some points during the interview and asked something maybe she was just interested in and made if feel more like a conversation.
Finished my interview after about an hour and was phoned two hours later to say I had been successful and had gotten to the assessment centre stage. Just be yourself, the interviewer is likely to be really friendly. They want you to do well and want to hire you if you have the right strengths!
My assessment centre took place about four weeks later, just due to scheduling issues with both myself and EY so it could happen quicker than that.
ASSESSMENT CENTRE & PARTNER INTERVIEW:
According to what I have read elsewhere, E&Y seem to have the longest assessment centre day but don’t let that put you off. Definitely think there is much more of a chance to shine as the variety of tasks let you show different strengths…you don’t need to do every task amazingly to still be made an offer.
Had the usual introductions explaining the day and then we all introduced ourselves and said the most interesting/exciting thing that had happened to us recently. There were five people in my assessment centre with two assessors to spot our strengths and one person running the day.
We then started into the group discussion. We were kept together but I imagine a bigger group would be separated. We had 45 minutes for the group discussion but the last 5 to 10 minutes were when one of the assessor’s asked some questions. Nothing you need to know really, just the usual take part, be yourself, don’t argue other people down, stick to the brief and watch your time. The discussion revolves around a topic that is emailed to you before the assessment centre for you to research and bring notes on. All you have to do is discuss, no presentation etc has to be done…phew! We had a short break after this before starting the next tasks.
The next task for me was the company analysis but these tasks are alternated so that different applicants are doing different things. You are given about 5 pages of information to read and then required to summarise it to meet a brief in 45 minutes. Nothing too difficult, just read the info, extract the relevant points and form some opinions.
After this, I had to do the intern role play task. You are given another report, about 5 pages again, full of mistakes. Last year, I believe you had to find all of the mistakes but this year most of them are already highlighted, you just have to find a few more. You get 15 minutes to do this and then 15 minutes to have the call but the phone call should only take about 10;. You have to call the intern and go over the report with them. You fill out a sheet prior to the call to say how you are going to approach it, what you want to discuss and what you want the outcome to be. Then one of the assessor’s will come into the room and dial the number and you have to have a conversation with a person on the other end of the line while the assessor listens. Just try and ignore them but obviously they need to be there to hear what you say. You are just giving the intern feedback about their mistakes and how they can do better.
We then had a 45 minute lunch break where we got the chance to speak to some graduates. It was just sandwiches in the office but, in my opinion, much better than being forced out for a long lunch and having to be polite, talkative, relaxed etc while stressing about the afternoon tasks.
After lunch we did the online tests again on paper, they were the exact same as the online ones, just a bit harder. I don’t think they put too much emphasis on these, just checking you didn’t cheat on the online ones. Again, didn’t think they went well for me.
The day then finished with a partner interview. Mine lasted about 45 minutes and I was asked pretty much what has already been said in the other thread called ‘Ernst & Young Partner Interview’:
Tell me about yourself, why EY, why specifically CA, how do I think the recession has affected EY audit, discussed how I felt the day’s tasks had gone, what would I have done differently, examples of other times I have used the strengths I exhibited on the day, what do I take pride in, what do I think my biggest challenge will be and how will I overcome it.
It seems a lot of questions rather than the basic six but from what I could see there were only six on the partner’s sheet, some of what they asked just followed on from an answer I gave.
As people say, nothing to be worried about, no competency and not really any difficult commercial awareness questions. Just be yourself, friendly, polite, inquisitive. It’s really just a discussion, you’ll get loads of info out of them if you ask the right questions.
There used to be a careers fair planning exercise and a debrief interview session but these seem to have been removed from this year’s assessment centre. The whole day lasted about 5 and a half hours. Actually quite enjoyable despite the nerves!
The person running the assessment centre informed us they would phone us the next day to let us know if we had been successful. Nothing was mentioned about emailing if we were unsuccessful but again, I just assumed that’s what would happen. In the end, I had to wait two days, but I finally received a call from the partner who interviewed me to offer me the position.
If anyone has noticed I have missed out something really important, feel free to add below!
Just be yourself guys, everyone I encountered was natural and friendly, I haven’t a bad thing to say about them. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel…even when it seems a long time coming or you feel like you’re never going to get the end of the process.
I wish you all the best of luck and sorry for the suuuper long post but I really hope it proves helpful and eases some fears!!