IBM Consulting 2016 - My Journey from Application to Offer




So I was recently made an offer from IBM on their Business Consulting Graduate Scheme.

I have found the advice on these forums invaluable in going from the application form to being made a formal offer. I am therefore happy to provide help to anyone who is currently going through the application process.



I’m through to the Assessment centre, which is one whole day that incorporates what was previously 2 assessment centres and a final interview. I was wondering what kind of things you had to do on your assessment? But more importantly how the interview was structured? What kind of questions?

Thank you in advance.


I’m glad to see that they have decided to shorten the application process!

My main piece of advice is to be yourself and not be put off by the stress of the day. Try and make friends with the other candidates as you may be in group exercises/communication exercise with them later on in the day.

The confirmatory IPAT test is really straight forward. Only 10 questions and you have 22.5 minutes to do it. No calculators allowed. The questions were easier than the online test and I think as long as you get 5/10 you’ll be fine.

After this you’ll do a group exercise with around 7 other candidates. There is an assessor making notes on each candidate throughout but don’t be put off by this. My advice for this is be a passive leader. They are not looking for loud opinionated people… More people who think logically, can make valuable suggestions and who listen to others views. The task is challenging and I don’t think there actually is a solution so they are assessing your team work skills and whether you work well under pressure.

Then if you’re successful with this you’ll do the communication exercise. We were put in pairs for this. I found this quite challenging as you have lots of info to digest but stay calm and pick out the most important pieces of information. When you meet with the ‘client’ be really professional and act as if you were representing IBM and exchange formalities etc. They are testing your analytic, negotiation and team work skills here so make sure you demonstrate these skills. The client will purposefully ask you some challenging questions so answer them to the best of your ability. If you don’t know the answer just say ‘I’m really sorry but I’ll have to ask my manager about that and get back to you ASAP’. All in all I think if you’re confident and are good at making stuff up on the spot you’ll be fine. The written exercise is really straight forward. Write it as if you were writing any professional email but also make sure you fully answer the questions they ask. It is time pressured so you probably don’t have time to write a draft!

Then the final bit is the interview. I think the style depends on who you get interviewing you. They have your CV in front of them and will ask you to elaborate on various competences. I was asked some curveball questions like ‘what would you do if you won 10million pounds’ and lots of commercial awareness qs like who is the CEO, what is IBM current stock price etc. So my main advice would be to know your CV inside out, be yourself, have a genuine passion to work for IBM and have a good knowledge of the company and current issues facing the Technology sector!

Hope this helps, best of luck in your AC and let me know if you want any more pointers!



Thank you very much! Well done to you for getting to the final stage interview.

From my experience the interview is very similar to the interview at the AC but instead lasts for an hour (mine actually lasted 1.5 hours!).

It was very informal and more of a chat. They have a list of questions to ask you which are very generic such as… Why IBM/why not our competitors, Have you applied anywhere else, Why consulting, What do you think you’ll be doing, Some Commercial Awareness q’s. But it is more of an opportunity for you to ask them lots of questions to find out whether the role is what you want and you can tell them what specific areas of GBS you might be interested in joining. There were no questions which I couldn’t answer so no need to prepare competence answers.

They have a copy of your CV and will pick out specific things to talk about. My interviewer had run a Google search of me the night before so make sure if you have Twitter/Linkedin/Facebook that there is nothing you wouldn’t want them to see. I have a Youtube channel which I had written about and he had checked this to see that I wasn’t lying! Bit daunting but just a bit of a warning in case you may have made something up on your application form (which i’m sure you haven’t).

All in all the interview is nothing to worry about and (gay I know) I actually enjoyed mine and left praying that I would be made an offer. I just used the opportunity to ask any question about IBM that I wanted to know. He admitted at the end that I had probably asked more questions than he had. Just be yourself, have a genuine passion for IBM, be knowledgeable about the firm… (e.g. what work they are doing at the moment, what issues are facing the Technology sector) and I’m sure you will be fine and hopefully joining me next year!

Hope this helps.



I recently had a final day interview and I am awaiting to hear back from IBM…

How long do they take to get back in touch with you?


Hi Samuel1234

Congrats. I had to wait a whole 3 weeks before I was officially made the offer.

Have you applied for Early 2013 or September 2013 start? I have a friend who interviewed 2 weeks ago and found out a week after her interview.

I’m sure you will find out before Christmas!

Good luck and let me know when you find out!


Hi Qwerty,

Congrats on your offer and thanks for offering to answer questions. I applied for the Early 2013 business consulting grad scheme, passed my (single-day) assessment centre on December 3rd, and I’m awaiting a business matching interview.

They have been very vague about possible dates for this… can you offer any info, having done this so recently? I.e., how much longer I’ll likely wait until the matching interview, and from there how long (if successful) to a formal offer, and from there how long until a start date?

Also, and perhaps more importantly, are graduate business consultants put into practice areas that are very specialized? And were you able to research before going into your matching interview what kind of practice area you were interviewing for?

Lastly, I’ve noticed that posts on forums such as this one from the (recent) past have mentioned “Business and Technology Consultant” as the job title. Is the “business consultant” job title a new thing?

Thanks again!


Having benefitted from these forums as well, here are my two cents on the assessment centre, for those preparing for the ordeal…

First of all, know lots about IBM – its practice areas, its competitors, culture, values, key personnel, history, advertising, etc. I was very lucky that my interviewer didn’t ask me a lot about these things, but I know other applicants were. I could easily have failed the AC if I’d gotten one of these other interviewers. Also, interviewers have very different styles… some very easygoing, some more hostile (so if the interviewer is firing tons of tough questions at you, it doesn’t necessarily mean the interview is going badly).

Second, if you haven’t figured this out by now, teamwork is the main thing they’re looking for. Are you competing against your fellow applicants? Yes and no; theoretically, they say they could take everyone or no one from the assessment centre, depending on the quality. But in reality they’re not going to take everyone. The ACs are a stressful, somewhat inhumane, somewhat farcical enterprise, but (as qwerty mentioned above) the best (and perhaps only) way to get through it is to be nice to everyone, find ways to help get the best out of everyone else while also making your own contributions. There’s no way to sabotage your fellow applicants without looking like an a$$hole yourself, so just be positive and genuinely try to solve the tasks you’re given as a team.

I should also note that there is some randomness about the selection, it seems. There were people who didn’t make it through the first cut in my AC who seemed really smart. The assessors probably do a good job, but far from a perfect job of making selections, so try to take it in stride if you don’t make it. There’s always something else out there, always an organization that will recognize your talents.

Good luck!


Congrats to the people that got offers and good luck to the others.
I am applying for the Business Consultant role and I am just at the online application stage. However, I’m a bit worried as I am not sure exactly what they are asking for in the skills and achievement section where they ask for technical orientation, Can anyone help please?

Thank you


Hi trees,

Sorry for the late reply. Well done on passing the AC.

I got invited for a business matching interview relatively quickly; however others from my AC had to wait around a month. I think this depends on a variety of factors. At the AC I believe the assessors score you on every task and then they use these scores and your CV to decide who and when to interview candidates.

I had to wait 3 weeks after my interview until I received an official offer. A long wait I know but definitely worth it! My start date is March 11th… and I believe they are also taking on Grads for a May start.

Grads are put into a specialised area. But I’ve been informed that it has minimal impact on your day to day work and you do get the opportunity to rotate around different areas of GBS throughout the scheme (I think/hope you do anyway!).

You are interviewed by a Business Partner… I asked what area my interviewer worked in but they wouldn’t tell me because apparently the interview is more about assessing your general suitability to the role of a consultant. Therefore you are not expected to have in depth knowledge of say SAP/Oracle/BAO etc…

I’m working as a Business Consultant… They also have Technical Consultant roles. I think they must have changed that this year… not sure though!

Hope this helps!



I have very little/no technical background therefore I wasn’t entirely sure what to write in this section.

I wrote about enjoying keeping up to date with new products/software. Did you use any software programmes in your degree like SPSS?? Or are you an avid user of social media? Those were the kind of things I mentioned.

If you are really struggling just be honest and say… Whilst I don’t have a copious amount of technical expertise… I am a fast learner and really passionate about Technology… also mention how IBM has great training and development programmes and so you would relish the opportunity to develop new skills.

Hope this helps!


Ok thanks a lot. You’ve been very helpful on this forum. If I do get through I’d let you know and keep you posted. Wish me luck :wink:


@ qwertyhgfdsa

Thanks for the reply! So what it sounds like from your description is that they sort of rank the successful AC candidates in order of how well they did on all the exercises, and then contact the highest-scoring candidates first. If that’s the case… I hope I’m contacted soon!

Is it also your understanding, as I’ve seen elsewhere, that once you’re in the business-matching phase, it’s unlikely not to be offered a position (as long as you don’t somehow do very, very badly in a matching interview)?

It’s a bit frustrating to hear the start dates are so far out… but I guess it’s a great opportunity to pursue some other kind of project for a few months.

@ misstee

I too didn’t have a ton of concrete tech skills, so I tried to convey an understanding of what I saw as the broader role and potential of technological innovation.



I’m not entirely sure this is their strategy; however in my final interview the interviewer did have a sheet with all my marks on from my ACs and he hinted that this is what they base their decisions on.

That was my understanding based on what I had heard from people from previous years; however I have a contact that was rejected following her business matching interview. I think because they have changed the process and candidates now only have to do 1 AC they are more selective at the Business Matching interview stage.

Yep it is frustrating but it’s better than waiting until September 2013 like most other Graduate Schemes. In fact IBM is the only company I know that take on grads at different times of the year.

Maybe spend time applying to other firms if you haven’t already to take your mind of things!!


This is true – not lots of other programmes with non-Sept start dates.

Thanks again for sharing your experiences. If any others in various stages of the post-assessment-centre process are out there, please do speak up!


Hi there, I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on the IPat for the 2013 intake, what kind of questions are there and anything in particular i should practice? thanks for any help.


hi there, im applying for the same position, im currently got the IPAT to do, do you have any advice or suggestions for me, it would really be appreciated. thanks


last mesg was to qwertyhgfdsa. Sorry Im new here, still getting to grips with the forum


I can offer my two cents/pence – though there’s already a good deal of more detailed info around the net. It’s actually a pretty straightforward test. Two parts: number sequencing, and problem solving. For the first part, just try to do a bunch of practice number sequencing problems in advance (not necessarily IPAT-specific) to try to develop an eye for the types of patters that emerge. Then the problem-solving questions are similar to GMAT/SHL/etc type problems, so have a look at some practice problems to brush up on basic math skills – they’re not hard, you just have to do them fast.

The timing gives you a fixed amount of time for each problem, rather than for the whole test (which personally I liked, since I didn’t have to worry so much about pacing myself). The number-sequencing part will be confirmed in the assessment centre with another test.


thanks trees, Im familiar with the SHL tests, can do all the questions just find time a problem, in my IBM email it says the test is 45min to 1 hour. how many questions are there on each and some of the guys on the forums say its 2.5min per question, is this still the case for this years intake?

Thanks!!! :slight_smile: