I dressed in a suit and tie as did everybody else at the interview and got in at about 850am.
I sat and chatted to others for about half an hour. Everybody was really nice and friendly and it was many people’s first assessment centre. We had 4 guys and 4 girls, all applying to different departments including audit, tax and business services.
We were led up to a large room. On the table were our names in front of laptops and we sat in our respective places.
After the lady introduced herself we went around the room giving our name, the university we’d studied at and what service line we were applying for.
We were then given a quick overview of the day including the times for partner interviews and group exercises. Only 2 of us had partner interviews for that day. The others had previously had them or were having them later on in the week with partners from their respective offices from across the country.
We then filled out our choices for lunch and were told to open the laptops to start our e-tray exercise.
The lady read out the instructions which went along the same lines as the previous posts. That you were transferring from a different office to take over a role of someone who had just been taken as long term sick.
For this part of the e-tray we were given 1hr 10 minutes to respond to 24 emails. The information you need is all in the folders on the computer including attachments etc. But a pack is also provided with exactly the same information. It is a matter of choice what you use. Personally I opted for the folders on the laptop as I could access info with a few clicks rather than trying to remember where things were in a booklet. An example one can be found [http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/jobs/FastStream/AlreadyACivilServant/e-Tray.aspx here], it is not the same scenario but the idea of information in folders and responding is similar and I was glad I had familiarised myself with it before I got there.
The types of questions involved included helping clients find individuals with certain skill levels for a particular project on particular days. It is up to you to decide which individuals fit the criteria. All answers have a choice of 4 possible answers and so often I found it better to look at the answers and cross out those that were clearly busy or did not have the required skill set until I was left with the answer.
There are a few formulae given on how to judge a holiday booking clients performance for their retail shop, telephone sales and online. This is simply plugging in info in a formula and it isn’t anything too taxing.
After that exercise was finished, many people worked right until the last second, I found I had answered them all with about 6 minutes to spare, but I think that’s only because I rushed through reading the information in the folders and also rushed in finding some answers. I found that was clearly not needed. After the time finishes (which is shown in the top left of the screen) the system automatically closes the exercise.
We were then given a very short break. After this we were asked to read the instructions of the next exercise to ourselves. This exercise was 50 minutes long and the task was to type two longer responses to two emails.
One was advice to one of the clients on what piece of IT solution they should implement considering they only have a budget of £200000 for the year, giving reasons for our choice. There are 2 attachments to this email which contain tables of info you need to structure your answer.
As I had read on Wikijob I started by making my choice and wrote my concluding paragraph, mentioning why I had chosen it.
Then I went back and wrote similar structured paragraphs on the pros and cons for each option rather quickly.
Remember this exercise tests your spelling and grammar as well as your ability to structure your argument. This took me about 26 minutes.
The next email I found slightly more difficult. It concerned the marketing department of the company you work for choosing to advertise its services at this time. The question is what service line would be best to advertise? You have the option of choosing from about 5 initiatives.
The initiatives can be found in an attachment once again and a survey is found in another attachment which shows what companies are looking for at this time.
I once again wrote my final paragraph first, then went back and discussed 2 other options and why they were attractive but not the right ones to follow. Notice here I only picked 3 to talk about, so don’t panic and think you have to do them all.
That response took me right to the wire. I can touch type pretty well and this would be beneficial. After that was completed once again the program logged out.
We were then taken lunch at a restaurant with 2 people who have been at the firm for 3-4 years. I can safely say this stage was not tested, it was a laugh as they were all very friendly and cool. We talked about KPMG for several minutes and they encouraged us to ask any questions we had and I believe they answered very truthfully. After the questions had ran out we talked about general things such as sport and uni etc.
After the 2 hour lunch we were lead back to the KPMG offices where 4 of us went to do the group exercise.
==The Group Exercise==
We were given ten minutes to read a booklet. The booklet was about one of the clients from a previous exercise.
The task is to choose deal with customer satisfaction. You need to propose two initiatives to take immediately and two that can wait until longer. A short presentation of about ten minutes needs to be given at the end.
I cannot stress this point enough: it is NOT about the presentation. I didn’t see a single assessor write a word while we were giving the presentation. It is completely about the discussion.
The booklet contains graphs, pie charts and lots of data. I don’t think you need to read everything properly. Just skim it and see the major areas if customer dissatisfaction. To be honest I didn’t get to the end of the whole thing.
After the time was up, the original assessment lady walked in and said that we should now start discussing the issue before walking out. At this point three other assessors walked into the room silently and sat down. Ignore them. They will not say a word.
My key points for passing this:
Start by going over the aim of the exercise again out loud.
If somebody starts talking, let them finish. Be polite. Be courteous. Make eye contact with whoever is talking. Smile. When somebody makes a suggestion ‘’‘DON’T’’’ ignore it and make your own point immediately after. Respond by saying “that’s an excellent idea I really like that, we should definitely address that” or “that’s a very good point, although I don’t think that addresses the question”. Put your own points forward. Make suggestions but don’t talk over others. I cannot stress enough how this isn’t really about content but more about how you deal with people. After about 15 minutes we’d decided on our four issues. So I suggested we start tackling the presentation. We went through each individuals sections and generated ideas of what to say together.
After the 30 minutes were up. The assessors stopped writing. The original lady came in and we gave our presentation to her. As I said this is nothing to worry about as the content doesn’t matter. She smiled and nodded throughout but to be honest I don’t think she was listening because it was all pretty dry stuff. I myself stopped listening after my part and looking around the room the assessors looked very disinterested and were just waiting until we’d finished so they could walk out.
My teammates left as they didn’t have any more activities to do and I was lead to my partner presentation.
The exact wording of the brief can be found elsewhere on Wikijob and so I won’t repeat it, but the idea is a 10 minute presentation on a client of your choice to the partner on potential avenues of expansion and why. After making small talk the partner told me a bit about himself and then I was asked to do my presentation. I had prepared a couple of sheets which contained key financials of the last year, a graph of market share and a SWOT analysis which I handed to him. I started my presentation and although I had notes written in front of me, I knew most of it off by heart and so only needed to glance down occasionally. I saw the partner nod several times and write things down as I was talking. I gave a brief history, then a market overview and finally spent the bulk of the presentation talking about opportunities for expansion from my SWOT analysis. After each suggestion I tried to suggest how certain KPMG’s departments can help with its implementation. So if there was an acquisition of another company, I suggested KPMG’s tax services could help restructure the organisation to reduce the effective tax rate etc.
After the presentation the partner asked me several questions about my client of choice and business knowledge, these included individuals follow up questions on several of my options for development of the organisation.
*1 Why I had chosen this client?
*2 Why do I think they have not done this suggestion before?
*3 What would be the ONE initiative I’d concentrate on and why?
*4 Then he asked me to pick a recent story from the business news that interested me and talk about it.
*5 This all took about 20-25 minutes and then I was given competency based questions. Note: My partner had the answers I’d given from the previous 1 hour manager interview in front of him.
*6 He asked me what motivates me?
*7 Where I see myself in 5 years?
*8 When have I lead or managed a team? What do I think others in the team thought of me?
*9 Why KPMG?
*10 Why audit?
There were quite a few follow up questions too.
After this I was asked if I had any, I asked a few and then I was allowed to go home. I was told 3 working days but was called the same day saying I had been successful.
It was my first application, my first assessment centre and I couldn’t have done it without wikijob. So I thought I should help others.
So do let me know if I can help.