Hey all, I’ve received a lot of help from this site so I thought I’d do my part and post about my recent experience with the Ernst & Young Assessment Centre event that I attended for a place in the Summer Internship with the Technology and Security Risk Services (TSRS) division. After finishing the application form, I received an e-mail from one of the graduate recruitment people two weeks later inviting me to attend the event at their More London Place office by Tower Bridge. There was only one single round, as the event included both exercises and an interview with a member of the service line you applied to. Here’s my account of how the day went.
9:30 am - Arrival - I arrived 20 minutes early, and met three other shaking undergraduates sitting in the reception area waiting for the assessment event. More and more showed up, and at 9:30 10 other undergraduates and I were lead into a meeting room, where we were given pastries and water in glass bottles (fancy).
9.45 am - Welcome Presentation - We had a brief talk from one of the graduate recruitment representitives, who showed us a PowerPoint presentation with some information about the summer vacation scheme. The talk was about 15 minutes long. She gave us a few tips about the day, such as making sure you show the interviewer you were eager by asking questions and to relax as much as possible.
10.00 am - Report Writing - The first exercise of the day tested your ability to pick out the important points and write them in a professional, concise and easy to understand manner. My particular case study was about a Hotel group that wanted to sell part of it’s business. The report wasn’t about your opinion or recommendation, but simply a test to see how well you could condense information. The first half of the task involved writing a list of key factors that must be considered. The second half of the task was to include in the report what services E&Y could offer the company should the divestment go ahead.
11.45 am - Interview - I had an interview with someone from TSRS, and it was a very comfortable interview. My interviewer did his best to make me feel relaxed, and often joked with me and told me his own experiences. We came from the same background (Computer Science degree) so we had a lot to talk about. The entire thing was very two-way, and it was not at all like he was trying to interrogate you or prevent you from joining Ernst & Young.
Questions were very standard interview affair:
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Tell me about a time you worked with a team.
Tell me about a time you lead a team.
Tell me about a time you used your own initiative.
Tell me about a time you showed flexibility.
Tell me about a time you changed the way you did something based on the recommendations of others.
Why do you want to join Ernst & Young?
Why Ernst & Young over other Big 4 firms?
The whole interview took about 40 minutes, and most of that time was filled by him talking. He stressed the importance of the fact that it wasn’t so much an evaluation as an opportunity for him to find out more about me, but I think he was just trying to make it easier for me. We were later told that after we leave, all the interviewers would meet to discuss the candidates. Overall, it was a very relaxed interview process and my interviewer really did do his best to make me feel comfortable.
12.45 pm - Lunch with trainees - Free lunch which consisted of more sandwiches than you can possibly eat. We were also joined by 11 trainees, most of whom were in their first full year of work with E&Y and had the opportunity to talk informally with them, finding out what it was really like working there. There was one trainee from the appropriate service line for each candidate.
1.30 pm - Group Discussion - All of the candidates were split into 3 groups and lead to separate meeting rooms. We were given the reports we had written earlier and a few pieces of paper to continue working on the Hotel case study. In 10 minutes, we had to individually come up with answers for:
Three advantages and three disadvantages for the company to proceed with the divestment.
Assuming the divestment is completed, three strategies for the company to continue increasing their market share.
Additional information you need from the client to make a recommendation.
At the end of the 10 minutes, two assessors walked in silently and sat down and we were told to simply ignore them. We were then given 20 minutes in which the group had to agree on the 3 main disadvantages and 3 main advantages. Unfortunately, pretty much everyone in the group had the same points so I had to make up some arguments on the spot to make me seem more willing to challenge the others. At the end of the 20 minutes, we were given a new ‘e-mail’ which told us we had 10 minutes to decide on the 3 best strategies to recommend to the Hotel group. We were not in total agreement this time, so we each gave our points and politely argued them.
2.30 pm - Finish - Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
Overall, I have to say I enjoyed the experience immensely. Not once throughout the day was I made to feel nervous or uncomfortable, but I really found the process fun and I left the building feeling that I couldn’t possibly lose anything from an experience like that, even if I didn’t get the job. Also, their office is in an incredibly nice building, I was actually amazed when I walked in.
I’m delighted to say I was offered a position on the Summer Vacation scheme. A mere 3 hours after I had left their office, while I was having dinner with a friend I received a phone call from my interviewer who told me the good news. I then received an e-mail the following day confirming the offer, and still haven’t recovered from the excitement.
Hope this information helps, and best of luck to all applicants!