KPMG Assessment Centre Dec 09


Hi all,

These forums are by far the most helpful in succeeding in these interviews and I’m pretty sure that it is down to them that I received a job offer with KPMG last week.
Here are my experiences of the AC:

First of all, I was the last one to turn up (even though I was early). Be sure to arrive in good time if you havent been to the office before. I had my first interview at the same office and so knew exactly where I was going and how long it would take etc. Be polite at all times… there was quite an irritating candidate that basically demanded coffee before we began, which I found quite rude and the lady supervising us did not seem too impressed. Also when you are given the opportunity to use the toilet do so then and not at another time as this too was seen as quite annoying by the look on the lady’s face.

At this point I was ridiculously nervous and could not concentrate properly. 70 minutes for the first part seems like a long time but beleive me it flies by! I began by looking through the booklet to familiarize myself with it… I would seriously not recommend that you do this, it is a complete waste of time. There is a contents page at the beginning and thats all you need to be familiar with! Also most of the emails have attachments with the relevant information which is exactly the same as in the booklet or the email tells you where to find the information. I looked at the clock and had 10 minutes to go… I panicked considerbly at this time as I still had around 6 emails to do and not all of the emails had even come through yet. It got to the point where I was reading the end of the email to quickly see what was required. I 70% guessed the last 4 emails and didnt even open the last two emails. So I would say at most I probably got 15/24 emails correct and may have correctly guessed a few. DO NOT PANIC… I think you can make up for this in the second part of the ETray. I forgot about it straight away and put in 100% for the rest of the day, don’t let it put you off.
I would advise that you work quickly, answer emails based on the same subject first as you already know where the information is, and do not worry if you havent answered them all.
The second part of the ETray was sooooo much easier. As long as you have intro, main body and conclusion for each email it will be fine. For the first email I proposed two suggested ideas to go ahead with based on importance, budget and current position in relation to competitors. Then I laid out my reasons for not picking the other three. I did not do this in as much detail for the second email, I focussed it more on the proposed idea as this seemed mopre important than the reasons not to use the other ideas.
I would advise here that you divide your time equally between the two emails. Both of mine were the same length and I finished about 3 minutes early. Spend 5 minutes for each one choosing which idea(s) to implement and the reasons as stated in the information, then 15 minutes writing the email and 5 minutes checking.

Lunch was very nice, although I felt so nervous and physically sick I hardly ate any. Most people had puds or coffee but I felt too ill to have aything else! I really do not think that this is assessed. I sat next to a graduate and was able to ask lots of questions. Try to enjoy yourself and relax.

Partner interview:
My partner interview was straight after lunch so I think that’s why I was so nervous at lunch. I did my presentation and also made a handout for the Partner to look at. He asked me two questions; why did you choose that firm? How have they been affected in the recession? Then he asked me about 5 competency questions which were very similar to those in my first interview. I used different examples except for one which I found hard to think of an example which I did not use in my first interview. He did not ask me any question along the lines of why KPMG. Once the interview finished we spend around 10-15 minutes looking out of the office (canary wharf) and talking about the o2 arena and other buildings we could see as they were some of his clients. This was good time spent interacting on a personal level I think.
I would advise that you treat the Partner as a normal person, I think that they are looking to see whether you are genuine and will fit in well with the company. Be yourself, shake his hand and do not try to b******* any thing.

Group exercise:
Ok this was one of the parts of the day which I was dreading because I was scared of having to talk over people to get my opinion across.
The booklet of information is huge! You cannot read it all properly in 10 minutes, but what I would suggest is that after about 7 minutes… turn straight to the back, as the other candidates probably wouldnt have got this far yet and it will give you some info to input that they may not know about. I did not do this but found that it would have been a good idea as one candidate had seen the info and had some valuable points. Jot down strengths and weaknesses and allow the group to then come to a decision for the long and short term initiatives. There was 4 in my grup and two of the candidates seemed to be trying to outdo eachother on how much they could say and taking leadership. This was so annoying! I simply listened and nodded and occassionly agreed or disagreed with their points and made sure I got a point in of my own. It was really hard for me and the other guy to get a word in. I managed to suggest we wrap up and focus on the time left for the presentation and also gave the other guy, who couldn’t speak because of the other two, a opportunity to express his opinion by saying ‘what do you suggest?’.The task is very easy, I didnt really understand all of the material or the ideas that the two chatterboxes were implementing but I don’t think this is particularly important. DO NOT TRY TO LEAD THE GROUP, give everyone a chance to say their peace and then perhaps lead the group on moving on to the next point. It became obvious that the other guy was very annoyed as he started to disagree with everything the two chatterboxes said just to be awkward!
I would advise that you do not spend lots of time jotting down what people say… just be sure you know what your part of the presentation is, make one comment to lead the group, one regarding time, one to propose an idea and one to get others involved. Listen and look interested by nodding smiling etc at all times. This worked for me. It is also good to expand on what someone has said or by disagreeing (for a good reason) as this shows you have considered other peoples opinions and are listening.

I left the AC at half 4 and received a call at 7. I applied for the business placement year but this is the same process as grads. I was also the youngest at the AC.

Any questions just ask.



Very good resume and well done for the job offer. I wonder if the “chatterboxes” also had an offer?
You say you were the youngest. Were the others postgrads?
I get the impression a lot more grads are going on to do Masters then applying for jobs.


Thanks, No they were in their final year at Uni or finished. I’m only in my second year! They werent that much older than me though.


Congrats on your job offer, good job. I hope I will manage to achieve the same - I’ve applied for KPMG Internship Programme starting in Aug 2010. I’m from Czech Republic and last year’s stats were 100 job offers per 560 initial applications (including both full-time grads and interns). What are the chances in UK (assuming you are based in UK as most from this forum)?


Hi, I was just wondering what sort of questions you asked the partner at the assessment centre stage. I presume by the time I am at that stage, I will have run out of valuable questions to ask.


Well they can be similar to those asked at your first interview as it will be a different person, I asked:
How long did it take to become a partner?
What do you do on a daily basis?
Have you always worked in audit?
You could ask which clients they have, most interesting client? What would they like to do next? Anything that interests you really.
Any more questions just ask! Xxx


Thanks kaysweet, that’s a great help.


Hi Kaysweet,

The information you shared is really useful thanks a lot.
Because of shortage of staff my Assessment Centre is divided into 2 parts, the group exercise and the E-Tray is in one day and the parter interview is 5 days later. I just wonder if I do not do very well say at E-Tray may they cancel my partner interview? There were some partner interview dates available before the E-Tray and group exercise but I chose a slot that falls after the first two, as based on the comments people write here, partner interview is the most important out of the three.
I am worried now…
Could you, please, post the questions you were asked during your partner interview as well, if you still remember them:)


There was a girl at my assessment centre who was there for the summer internship. She did the etray only and they said to her they would let her know if she was successful or not to then come back for the group task and partner interview. Although this may just be the way that the summer internship process goes. There was also another girl who joined us after the etray to do the other two parts as she felt ill at her previous assessment day and to leave early. I think to be honest that they look at your whole performance and even if you have done bad in your etray and group task they will still allow you to pull some more point from the partner interview. I think that the partner interview is the only part where they will test career motivation so i think that you will definitely have to attend both days before getting any feedback. At least you can go straight into the partner interview with the presentation fresh in mind.

The partner asked me:

  1. Tell me about a time when you have lead a team
  2. Tell me about a time when you just had to give up
  3. What are your future goals?
  4. When have you chosen to ignore someones advice/ when have you refused to adapt to someone elses way of working?

I can’t really remember if he asked me any more but he kind of asked me questions to make me expand on my answers. Make sure you ask him some questions and interact with him. Make sure you look interestes you can do this by expanding on some of the things that he has said or expressing your own opinion on some of his answers. Be yourself 100%, smile and laugh with him! They just want to see that you are genuine and will fit in with the team.

Hope this helps xxx


Congrats on your success kaysweet. Just wanted to add that I totally agree - whilst it is obviously still assessed, the partner interview is much less rigid than the first interview and you should focus equally on being confident, affable, and a joy to interact with - however that applies to you as an individual.


For the presentation, if you have a handout, when is the best time to give it to the interviewer, at the start or at the end? I presume s/he wouldn’t have time before hand to go through it in depth and may be distracted by it through your presentation. If given at the end you may soley be judged by your presentation given and the info in the handout may be disregarded? Any views would be helpful here. Thanks.


Guys thanks for your responses.
Kaysweet, I think the feedback they give for the PAPI questionnaire may help guessing what competency questions you may be asked.
Mezi, for the handout I suppose you need to give them beforehand if you have any data with figures and numbers to which you want to draw the partner’s attention; otherwise you can opt to give before or after. It is not something necessary and I think they try to interact with you during your presentation rather than stick to the handout.


I gave mine out at the beginning because there was some content that was in there which I did not say in my presentation. He looked through it a couple of times throughout the presentation, I made it very simple n easy to digest. I made an a5 booklet with a guide as to what i was about to say (just headings) a full swot analysis, facts about the co and sum financials. He actually referred to some of the info when asking me a question afterwards. Don’t be too technical, make sure you understand what you are talking about. Xx


Thanks for the replies. Did you find that he still listened to what you were saying rather just flicking through the handout?


kaysweet - Booklet sounds fancy! I just typed bullet points out on an A4 page of the key points and printed two copies, one for me and one for him. I used it as a cue card mainly and it enabled him to get a feel for the structure of my talk.

mezi05 and ceastar - when are your ACs and where and what are you applying for?


London Tax, beginning of Jan


I don’t know exactly, I have not received confirmation yet, but I am applying for audit in Leeds.


To be honest he wasn’t that interested in what I was saying. He looked at it a few times and also listened I think. The whole time he has to write notes about what you are saying and I think this helps him to ask questions. I only made 1 handout and took some notes in for myself so that I could refer to them if I got some nasty questions. I made cue cards to help me with the presentation, they just had the first few words from each sentence to give me something to go from. If you know how each sentence begins it is easier to remember and makes sure you’re not just reading it. X


This is going to sound really silly but for those who did the e-tray exercise -

Did your laptop come with a mouse? I hate using laptops and have always used a pc with a mouse so I just need to know so I can practise using the laptop without a mouse.

Cheers in advance!



no it doesn’t come with a mouse - you might be able to bring one to plug in if it worries you (maybe phone graduate recruitment and ask?)