Help~IBM 2nd Round Selection Day


I have applied for the IBM graduate management accountancy programme and due to attend a 2nd round selection day next week. I was hoping for someone who has any expereince to give me some tips and advice. I will do the same for other people once I have done the assessment centre. Cheers


Hi Freelancer,

Sorry to see looks like you didn’t get too much help from other peoples’ experiences. I have applied for an IT Consultant role and have a final round assessment day next week and was wondering whether you might be able to shed some light and share your experience. From the email i received it says there will be an interview (guessing competency based), a group exercise and a 3-part communications exercise (preparation, presentation and written exercise), was this the same as your selection day?

Any info and guidance would be a great help. Thanks.


Actually, just realised you probably haven’t had it yet - oops. Guess we’re in the same boat. When and where exactly is yours? Mine’s on Friday 22nd in North Harbour, Portsmouth.


@ Vish

We are going to the same assessment centre. I am glad that we are not competing for the same position. :stuck_out_tongue:


Hi Vish,

If you don’t mind can you please explain how your 1st round selection day was.

What sort of activities did you have to do? what sort of interview questions were asked and what were the tasks of the group exercises…were you able to work out what sort of qualities they are looking for in this stage of the application?

and finally, what type of questions were asked in the 2nd ipato test.

I hope i’m not asking you too much here…but I would really really appriciate your feedback on this as I’m due to have me 1st assesment day soon.

A BIG Thanx in advance!!!


Hi Vish,

Thanx a million for a descriptive response…seems like you’ve covered the whole day in a nut shell! How long was it before you heard from IBM that you had passed the first stage?
I do hope you breez through the 2nd stage too…hopefully can describe what you were faced with on the 2nd assessment day :slight_smile:

A bit more about the confirmatory IPATO test; did data matrix also come up in this? and were the other questions just on number sequences and percentages? Ohhh…were you allowed to use calculators? and how long were you given to complete this test?

Best of Luck!!!


Hi Vish…

Have you heard back from IBM in regards to your 2nd round interview? How did it all go?

If you dont mind me asking once again, can you tell me what sort of tasks they asked you to do and what type of questions were asked at the interview?
How long did it last?
Did they mention how many grads their taking on?
Did you feel that the competition for places is tough…which is why they may be asking you really tough questions?
As you’ve chosen the IT consultancy scheme…did they ask any related questions? Questions on programming know how??

Once again…Thanx in advance mate!!


Hey bob,

When’s you selection day?

Good news, I managed to get through the 2nd round, now there’s a business matching interview which i didn’t know about.

I feel slightly guilty giving too much info about the assessment centre as they explicitly told us not to discuss it - but happy to give you a rough overview.

Again, you’ll be split in two groups so bear in mind the order of events i describe may be reversed for you.

1st task: communications exercise
You’re given a brief about your company’s services and some info on your client’s needs. The scenario is, your colleague was going to give a presentation but he/she has been called away and left you with the notes to complete the presentation and deliver it to the client. You have 20 mins to read through and prep.

You then deliver it to an assessor, 1-on-1 in role play mode - lasts 10 mins with question and answer.

You then have 20 mins to respond to an email from the client - this is a written task.

2nd task: group exercise
Very much the same sort of thing as the selection day, 40mins long to work through a problem - no assessor involvement

3rd task: 1-on-1 interview with a Personal Development Manager 45mins - quite relaxed and thankfully no competency style questions, mainly talking about what you wrote on your application and your style and personality and motivations. This isn’t a grilling, so just build a rapport and think about what competencies IBM look for ie. team player, adaptable, etc.

And thats it. Mine was from 8.30-12. So pretty intense, with few breaks.

No technical questions about programming or anything like that, just why I wanted to go into IT.
Everyone at the assessment centre came across as a decent candidate but they gave no indication as to how many places they had, just that there were enough jobs for everyone if everyone performed well.

(For advice, tips and more on landing a graduate position in consulting, check out )


Hi Bob,

Here goes…

The day began with a presentation from an IBM Personal Development Manager telling us how wonderful IBM is, how they’re structured and what their main services and selling points are. While you’re listening, make some notes because it will help to regurgitate some points if you’re successful and put through to the next stage. Also think of some interesting questions to ask as I’m sure it will help the presenter remember you positively and set you apart from the other candidates early on. The presenter tends to be an assessor in at least one of your group exercises on the day. He mentioned this twice I think as a hint when prompting if anyone had any questions.

Group will then split in two - we had two groups of four.

Task 1:
You’re given a brief about a company you’re a senior person in. Your first task is to appoint a new manager. You have a list of candidates with their skills and qualifications listed and you essentially have to first figure out what skills are mandatory and beneficial for the role and then who the best candidate is based on that criteria. In addition, there will be five or so sheets of paper each with slightly different information on them that give you clues on what skills are needed, what universities are good, what qualifications are necessary etc. Try and work through this as discursively as possible as its tempting to just puzzle things through on your own. With the time constraints, try and establish some direction as a team and some kind of systematic process as early as possible.

Task 2:
IBM has just delivered a piece of work to a client, it’s been a big impressive project. An IBM manager who doubles up as an assessor role plays this to begin with and tells you he wants a big event to be planned to celebrate this. In front of you, you have tables and sheets with lists of venues, food prices, entertainment details etc. and a budget. You have ten minutes to put some ideas together. Then the manager steps in and says hi guys what have you got. You tell him, and he’ll throw a spanner in the works and say actually he doesn’t like one thing or another and will want the event to have a theme as well - something classy. He might throw in that he’d like to have an award ceremony to commend certain people so incorporate that, and also that he would like to have provisions allowing for spouses and partners to attend. This is just to see how you adapt to change i guess. This is also your opportunity to ask the manager questions that will help you in planning and deciding. Think of some intelligent things to ask. Then you have about eight minutes to finish off a proposal and present it as a group in the final five minutes. Very time pressured, keep it simple and don’t get too bogged down with figuring out costs in detail as this can slow things down, just make sure you’re roughly within budget which is quite easy as you’re given a lot to work with.

confirmatory IPATO test: 12 questions, 4 from each type, normally the hardest ones from the online test. Just to see if there are any huge irregularities with your online score.

And that’s it. More info than you probably need, and some of the tips are obviously my thoughts so hope that helps - take what you can from it.

Best of luck!


It took about a week to hear back from IBM. The IPATO had about 4 data matrix questions, 4 number sequence and 4 maths problems. The 1st 2/3 data matrix qs were doable but unless you draw out the table and puzzle over it it really fries your brain. My advice would be to draw out a grid as soon as you can on a rough sheet of paper - be cheeky and maybe even scribble it out before the test starts so you can quickly fill in the values. The number sequences were fairly easy and again just about identifying a holistic pattern rather than any complex nth term stuff. The maths problems had some percentage increase and decrease qs and some numerical problems eg. how many tiles needed to cover the area of a bathroom if it takes 4 tiles for 1m squared and the bathroom measures 10m by 5m etc. Again not too taxing. As I said, the questions will probably feel familiar as they’re taken from the online test you’ve already done.

You have 15 mins to complete.
You lose 1/4 of a mark for a wrong answer in the numeracy and number sequence but the data matrix is NOT negatively marked.
You get a calculator but you can take your own if you have one you’re more comfortable with.

Don’t worry too much about this stage as it is really to identify any glaring discrepancies with your online test.

(For advice, tips and more on landing a graduate position in consulting, check out )


Hey Vik,

Sorry mate I aint been in touch recently, really busy with work and my internets been down for the past two weeks!

I havent heard from IBM in regards to my first round selection day, even though I had passed the IPATO test about a month ago now!
Dont know if they’ve already found enough candidates for this years in take or not.
I’ve mailed them a number of times but have had no response :frowning:

How are things getting on with you??



have you not had confirmation for a selection day yet then?

I’m not sure what the situation is with hiring numbers.

I’d try calling to push them and check what’s going on.

Here are some numbers:

07768 715045 - chap called Tom Hann from grad recruitment

07827 956180 - Holly Parmenter - grad recruitment officer
023 92 561423

+44 (0) 870 542 6426 - General enquiries - ask to speak to grad recruitment

(For advice, tips and more on landing a grad scheme in consulting, check out:


Hi Vish,

Thank you for all the important info you have provided us so far. I would like to ask you to give further details about the presentation exercise, if possible, as I am really crap at that. How does it all occur? Do the other candidates watch as you present? Does each of the candidates in a team present his/her part one-by-one? Is it a common presentation, for the whole team, where each candidate only presents a small part…

Thank you in advance. Sorry for all the questions, but I have mine in a week and I’m looking for some info.




You get the brief (a small pack of info) about the company you come from, it’s services, and the company you’re going to be presenting to, plus notes for the presentation. You have 20 mins to read through it, fill out any gaps in the presentation notes by reading all the info and run over it in your mind.

If you have a decent short-term memory you should be fine. You just read the brief, split the presentation up into 5 or so sections and just regurgitate the info.

You have all your materials during the actual presentation, which will be in a separate room with just you and the IBM assessor, who will act as the company representative. So don’t worry about memorising all of it, you have all the info in front of you. Will last 10 mins.

He or she may or may not ask you questions. You too can break it up by turning it into a kind of consulting session if you see that the assessor contributes during your presentation. Just be responsive to their reactions but aim to cover all the main points.

And act like you are actually meeting a client. Role-play.

When i did it, we were just sitting down opposite each other, so it didn’t feel like one of those pressurized formal presentation exercises.

Btw, it’s not a group exercise - this is an individual exercise.

Hope that answers your questions. Best of luck!

(For advice, tips and more on landing a grad scheme in consulting, check out:


Hi vish,

My ibm first round selection day is on the 2nd of March. Very nervous about it. Wanted to know how competitive it is?
Where did you have your selection day? I have been called to hursley winchester. Very diffucult to reach there using public transport.
I am applying for summer placement. Are there no one on one interviews on the first selection day?



Hi Snigdha,

I went to Portsmouth, so don’t know about winchester, sorry. Also, since I was going for the perm grad scheme I don’t know for sure whether the process will be the same for you, but I’m fairly certain there won’t be any one-to-one interviews at the selection day. Just two group exercises and a confirmatory IPATO test. Interviews will be at the next round.

It’s not competitive at all. Completely about team work and some team problem solving as well, which you can’t really prepare for.

I’ve written a blog with some tips on teamwork exercises and the kinds of things you might find yourself doing. Hope it helps and best of luck!

check out:


Hey Vish,

Heard any news from IBM about your place?

I’m really hopping you’ve got the place!

My first round selection day is coming up very soon…and am getting really nervous about it all!

Any last min hints you can give me?

Thanks once again for the continued support!!


Hey bob,

had the final iv feb 26th. Found out yesterday they’ve decided to offer me a place starting July! So great news!

Also have an offer from PwC, so doing lots of thinking and in a very fortunate place!

For the selection day, all i can say is be relaxed and concentrate on working well in a team. That means, use people’s names to build an initial rapport (very simple but effective), speak up, contribute, let others speak, ask questions, keep track of time, get the group to attack the problems systematically. Be confident even when you’re just listening.

I’ve got a post that you might find more comprehensive:

Best of luck!


Vish take the PwC job.

IBM are a terrible company to work for at the moment.


Why do you think IBM are a terrible company to work for? I have friends within IBM who would disagree with you.