KPMG Advisory Start to Finish: A Human's Tale

Civil Service Fast Track

Hello there

I think I shall only use this forum this one time just to update anyone who wants to know what the KPMG Advisory application process entails. As with so many others, I have used this site quite a bit so I certainly need to give something back. Most of the detail on WikiJob at present is up-to-date although a few things may be different. I don’t feel this is giving anyone ‘answers’ as offers only come if the company wants you for who you are / can be.

Step one, Application: Be yourself, answer the longer questions carefully and decide for yourself if you really want to work for KPMG by checking their website. eg Do you really like the idea of a rotational, rather than a fixed, programme? I did, so that was cool. There are loads of good threads and forums on here about basic application advice. I used my printed CV as a guide to answer things about me rather than looking at other applications from elsewhere. Remember you have to answer what KPMG asks, not a re-hash of a question you answered for someone else. Best tip for this is to write every answer in Word and spell check before pasting into the form.

Step two, Tests etc: As far as I remember the first test was the PAPI test. I think this is carried out straight after the initial application. It is a very long multiple choice test and I would seriously suggest answering the questions honestly as the results can come in very handy later in the application process if you pass the first round interview (yes, that’s right, KPMG provide feedback on something before you even get to the end of the process). For comparison I botched the PWC PAPI-style test by trying to put answers I hoped they would like, so I presumed that I wasn’t what they wanted, hey-ho. You can’t prepare for it and everyone will get different results.

Step three, Testing continues: I think that the application and PAPI went together so then you play the waiting game, apply to someone else, read books, continue your day job, twiddle thumbs etc. If you get through then whoop whoop and onto the numeracy and literacy tests. These are effectively clones of those used by PWC/Deloitte/IBM. The best place to try these out for me was SHL (don’t quote me as saying that KPMG use SHL, I don’t recall, but it’s basically identical). My tips here are: For numeracy: try and get a calculator that can handle really long numbers (like a scientific calculator, but not the one on the computer as the test window won’t like you doing that at all) as it saves the hassle of dealing with converting values from megatonnes to microtonnes etc. Have some scrap paper. Try to be calm as all of the info is there even if you think it isn’t, look again, did you miss an axis label or misread a column heading? For literacy/verbal: DO NOT use applied knowledge, if a paragraph says that tadpoles cause global warming then that is true. Forget what you think you know and focus just on the one paragraph. I think each paragraph has three or four questions. I read the text then did the questions but you could try the other way round and search for answers but be careful as some facts are spread around different areas of the paragraph. Don’t be afraid to choose the ‘cannot say’ option, not every question has a simple ‘true’ or ‘false’ outcome.

Step four, First round interview: I really have nothing to add here as the other forums are totally accurate at the moment. Read your email invitation / other materials they may have sent carefully. This is a competency based interview so go to KPMG’s website and find out what these competencies are and use WikiJob to find out how to approach a competency-based interview. Answer questions using work, education, clubs/sport examples etc and be yourself, don’t make stuff up. Also, I would highly suggest you research a current business issue and learn about some companies that are performing in different ways (ie a good one and a bad one), what their figures are and why they are so good or bad and what could KPMG do to help. So, if you fancy applying to IT Advisory you could suggest a way IT can help them or if you fancy Tax then how could you help their pensions etc etc etc. One thing I think is really critical is to look at the competencies and ask yourself which ones you perceive to be strong and which may be weak. Again, is this exactly what you are looking for? I’m not trying to put people off but just keep asking yourself in any job application process if this really is the one for you or not - there are loads of other alternatives. So, if KPMG is the one then let’s carry on…(PS this interview is about an hour).

Step five, PAPI feedback: Good times, you made it to the last stage! If you are here then you have passed the interview and will have been emailed the results from the PAPI (remember?). If you were brutally honest with it then you will get an amazing piece of feedback about yourself, importantly, where your strengths and weaknesses are. You can use this to your advantage now in any application anywhere as you know the areas in which you need to improve. No employer hires 100% staff with perfect PAPI scores, otherwise what’s to work towards? Also be careful not to read into the PAPI criteria to narrowly eg if leadership is weak then ask yourself what kind of leadership it means, team leadership? moral leadership? You probably have buckets of your so-called weaker qualities just in another form.

Step six: Assessment Day (guaranteed if you got to step five): This is fun and again is pretty much already neatly hinted at on WikiJob. The games you play are e-tray, group exercise, partner presentation/chat. The e-tray is multiple choice and the program in which it operates is identical to the UK civil service e-tray that you can play online anytime for free. One difference is that the KPMG one doesn’t use weak and strong options, you just pick one. It’s lots of fun and you get materials to help and probably dont need to ‘prepare’. Just watch the clock. The written part of the e-tray is again common sense stuff but you cannot copy and paste from Word like people here suggest so you actually have to spell properly. The laptops do have Word but you can’t open a new file without a KPMG password. Still, how many people do that in day-to-day life anyway? Think about how to open and close the emails ie Dear Sir/Madam or Hi Bob, yours sincerely or regards? Both may be useful! Group exercise is fine, enjoy it as you probably know the other members by now anyway. Watch PWC’s group exercise video for help (applies to KPMG or anywhere). Drag the discussion back to the main aim if needed, but in a diplomatic way rather than just announcing that you have gone off track eg ‘that’s a really good idea (even if it isn’t), shall we discuss how we can use it to achieve objective x?’ Thank god I wasn’t the time keeper, I would have lost track of it straight away and I could still demonstrate appreciation of time constraints by asking the person who was time keeper how much time was left! You have to present your ideas as a group at the end but that bit is chilled out and nice. You get free food, it seems to vary where you go from reading here so just enjoy what you get - I did very much, it was lush and I was bloody hungry. The partner interview is totally fine. KPMG sends you everything you need to prepare for a 10min presentation about any real company and how you can help. I can’t add anything else here. The partner questions are whatever they decide to ask so be truthful and again use this time to wonder if this is really where you want to be (you may have other offers).

KPMG is certainly a place I am looking forward to working at/for. I knew I wanted to work here from the start and that didn’t waiver but there were other places where my opinion started bright or dark and switched throughout, that may be the case for KPMG for you but my other applications were vast and had got this far before I said ‘YES’ to an offer from KPMG:

Deloitte, first round interview (in a lovely modern dungeon) - too slow to sort out next stage but wasn’t that keen on their programme anyhow, you might be.

PWC, reasoning tests - REJECTED - I hated the questions about how to deal with a colleague facing bereavement, not for me, might be for you, good luck!

Qedis, application form - funny lot this bunch, very quiet, threads here suggest they can’t cope with applications at the moment anyway

McKinsey, application form - REJECTED - wouldn’t let me apply at analyst level

IBM, tests - REJECTED - I knew this would be hard as I’m not 100% IT anyway, it was the weird matrices tests that I hated, they looked like they had been knocked up in a MS Word table anyway, not exactly cutting edge IT in my opinion - oops that was rude, I’m just not built for them, you might be!

Accenture - REJECTED somewhere, maybe after tests, I can’t even remember. They advertise the start salary in massive text on the graduate website and I’m not that greedy so didn’t care in the end.

CapGemini, phone interview - passed it but didn’t hear when the last stage would be but I’m sure they have other applicants.

There were loads of others, big and small, London and elsewhere. One of them will eventually stick out for you and when that happens then you will naturally throw more weight behind it. If you fail one at an application stage then wonder if they are full/not for you/too competitive. If you fail at one at a later stage then use what you have learned for the next place, even going to an interview will make a second one easier somewhere else. They only say yes if you have what they want, it’s a two-way thing. In the end you will work somewhere, believe me, just make sure you set aside a good several months to get that offer!


I love ur advice, very explicit and empathising in communication. Am glad u finally got something that u really love.

Accenture is really pissing me off…I completed their assessment center almost 9 working days ago, and haven’t heard anything from them…but I hear people who had assessments after me have received offers/rejections already.

I feel like my name got eaten by a virus on their computer…lol


Just a quick question, I’m doing the application for Tax graduate at KPMG - The application asks what you think you’ll be doing in your first year, but in this programme the first 9 months are spent in the tax business school, do you think they mean the first year in the office?.

Sorry this is probably a stupid question, so while I’m being stupid - do you actually get paid if you’re doing an intensive 9 month study course?




I am in the process of researching for my interview.

I come from a non business background and am trying to understand exactly why advisory study accounting.

Any advice would be much appreciated