Firstly I want to thank the Wikijob community for helping me to get this offer from KPMG! I couldn’t have done it without everyone’s help and valuable insights. As such i’m gonna write about the assessment centre that I had yesterday. I’m not sure if it’ll be 100% useful but hopefully it’ll help give you an idea about what to expect. Knowing what to expect was my greatest tool in preparing and overcoming nerves. To some extent…
BASIC LESSONS LEARNT:
Firstly though I learnt a few lessons along the way which fortunately didn’t affect the outcome but could have been avoided:
Lesson 1: Don’t be late
Lesson 2: Bring everything they ask you to bring
Lesson 3: Don’t say “Deloitte” when you mean to say “KPMG”.
Best to avoid such mishaps…
Moving on, everything that people have said about the application process has been pretty accurate. I’ll just give you my version of events.
Same description as everyone else. You sit at a laptop and are covering for somebody who’s taken ill at a different office. The exercise is made up of two parts.
In the first part you have 70 minutes to answer 24 emails. The emails come in an MCQ format, requiring you to choose an answer from four possible answers by looking through information already given or from the information in the emails (plus attachments to the emails) or a combination of both. Take a few minutes to skim through the info you have so you know where most things are (although the emails tend to tell you where to look anyway) and then begin. Answer them one at a time. You may have to find info, make minor calculations given preset formulas or make judgement calls. After the 70 minutes you move on to the “written” exercise.
In the 2nd part you have 50 minutes to reply to two emails. These replies have to be longer written recommendations. First go through the information you have, make some notes, and answer the emails directly, remembering to be formal and always remember to address the issues mentioned in the emails. Take 30 minutes for the first and 20 minutes for the second because the first is a bit longer.
Try PwC http://www.pwc.com/uk/en/careers/student/interactive-challenges.jhtml (very easy but they give you an idea about what it’ll be like; do all three challenges); Then try the Civil Service Practice E-Tray. Kinda helpful although it doesn’t tell you how you did so in that way it’s not great.
NOT assessed so don’t worry. At the beginning of the day they handed out menus and told us to tick what we wanted. Make sure you choose something hearty because you have plenty of time in between the e-tray exercise and the next session of tests to digest. More importantly, use the time well to talk to the trainees and get an idea about what they do, whether they like the job, etc etc. Just chatting with one of the lovely trainees helped make me feel confident that I was making the right choice about joining KPMG. And confidence is definitely one of the biggest factors in having a successful interview. If you consider it a learning experience and remember that you’re not actually going to die during the company presentation or interview (contrary to what your shaking bones and butterfly-filled stomach say) you’ll do fine!
At the beginning of the day they’ll let you know how your group is to be divided, ie, whether you do your group exercise first or your company presentation and partner interview first. I did the GE first.
You’re given 10 minutes to read through a booklet (concerning one of the firms from the E-tray exercise). Skim and take quick notes.
Then you have 30-35 minutes (i forget) to discuss. I must say I was very lucky. I was in a group with four wonderful young candidates, all of whom were fantastic team-mates. None were the bossy, overbearing type that I’ve heard about. Try to start off deciding on how to structure the discussion.
We all gave each other opportunities to speak, nobody spoke over anyone else, we all contributed valuable points, we all agreed on the final outcome. Somebody should also keep time to help move the group along. We used the last 5 minutes to decide who was going to say what.
10 minute presentation (not to be confused with company presentation to be made to partner later): best to let everyone in the group speak about a section. Divide it as equally as possible but let people speak about what they’re comfortable with as they won’t have much time to prepare for it and will be flustered if they talk about smth they’re not so familiar with, ie, let people talk about the points they brought up themselves, if possible.
COMPANY PRESENTATION AND PARTNER INTERVIEW:
Final step. You’re taken to a room by your partner. My partner was a really nice person. Other candidates and the trainees agreed that the partners are all nice.
You’re asked to prepare a company presentation beforehand. 10 minutes to talk about your firm making suggestions for how they can improve/expand their business. You should make a handout to give to the interviewer for him/her to take notes on. After I was done talking (for roughly 10 minutes, no pressure on that, it can go to 12 or 8 if you want) I was asked some questions about it. Make sure you’re prepared to back up the points that you feel will get the most queries, ie, if you suggest something for a firm to take on that hasn’t been done before, then you need to back it up because there’s probably a good reason why it hasnt been implemented already in real life.
After that (lasting about 15 minutes in total really), we get on to the interview part. Now, i was very surprised at this point. I was asked a few basic competency questions: Tell me about a time when you had to make a tough decision; when you achieved a goal; when you refused to listen to somebody’s advice and so on. Not many questions, 6 or 7 main ones with follow up questions about how i felt, how i acted, what others said of me, etc. What surprised me though was that I wasn’t asked anything about why I wanted to join KPMG, what’s affecting audit, etc. Nothing! The interview ended after around an hour and i got a chance to ask some questions and that was that.
I then got a call later that evening from the partner who said KPMG were going to offer me the job. I was so impressed that I was called that very day. It really meant a lot to me and I knew that among the people who deserve my thanks, the whole Wikijob community deserves much of it.
Please don’t hesitate to ask me questions if you want and best of luck with everyone else’s respective job hunts!