KPMG Competencies

The Graduate

I have recently been lucky enough to get an offer to join KPMG in a graduate role in the advisory arm in a regional office, and like many others who have been successful with a Big 4, I feel a certain amount of gratitude to this forum.

The advice here really is invaluable, but there is no reason for me to give another walkthrough of the process from application to offer as this has been done very well by several previous posters. Just use the search function and there is lots of good advice for each stage. Instead I would like to emphasise the importance of understanding what the graduate recruiters are looking for.

I graduated a few of years ago and didn’t initially apply to graduate programs when leaving university, so I thought I might be too old for this type of thing and now look to recruiters like I didn’t have career motivation. I also thought Big 4 and other top recruiters were looking for a certain type of person, and that I might not fall into this category. After having successfully completed the process however, I am of the opinion that any reasonably commercially aware graduate with a 2:1, who is willing to put in the preparation time, can succeed in getting one of these jobs.

Almost all the recruiters are looking for certain competencies, which. Nothing is hidden from view, and everything is incredibly objective,


Did you do the old style assessment centre or the new one? i.e. with mock meetings etc


I got the old style as it was for the 2011 intake, but have heard from a friend in audit at KPMG - who was recently trained as an assessor - that the old style group exercise is being replaced by some scenario role plays/mock meetings.

Afraid I have no experience on these however.


…this forum is obviously not designed with a ‘confirm post’ function… so I saved a little too early and here goes the continuation:

Almost all the recruiters are looking for certain competencies, which are usually clearly posted on their website. Nothing is hidden from view, and everything is incredibly objective, at least at the Big 4. During every stage of the recruitment process (application, online tests, interviews, assessment centre, etc.), you have to demonstrate these competencies to a certain level on a scoring chart to be successful and be moved along to the next stage.

The key to my success was understanding this. I had applied unsuccesfully to both KPMG and other Big 4s before getting an offer, and at the beginning I really didn’t understand that I needed to be prepared for the interviews - as silly as that sounds. I thought it was enough to learn about the organisation I was applying to and then turn up and let my brilliance shine through;-) What I found was that there are very few points available (if any) for being liked by an interviewer for example. For the competency based interview questions, to which you will become very accustomed if you apply to several firms, you really need to think long and hard about which experiences in your past you can form into good examples to answer these. It really does not seem to matter whether you have scaled Mont Blanc or worked in a cornershop after school - what matters is that you understand how you can mould what you took from your experiences to demonstrate the competencies the graduate recruiters are looking for in new hires.

If anyone has any questions about the process or the competencies, please ask. And very, very good luck in your application(s).


Well done on the job. Out of interest, when did you graduate and what have you been doing since? I graduated 2010, applying for grad schemes for 2012 start!


Thanks. I graduated as far back as 2006 and was self employed for a while and then spent a couple of years in a very average office admin job. So several years is definitely not a barrier in itself. Good luck. Which stream are you applying for?


Thank you very much klim, I will attend AC next week, so nervous… Also I am worried about the numerical and verbal tests, I heard they are not easy. And how about the group discussion? I always afraid I will be too nervous to think about some ideas.


Hi Klim,

I have a final partner interview coming up and I was just wondering if you could help me out.
For the partner interview, what type of questions were you asked and were the same competencies tested as in the first interview? Also, did you use similar or the same examples from the first interview or did you try to use different ones. I’m not sure if the partners are aware of your responses from the first interview, so I don’t want them to think I only have limited experiences to draw upon.

Thanks for the help!



There were a few competency based questions at the partner interview, but far fewer than in the first interview, which seemed far more structured. I don’t think using some of the same examples is a problem; the main thing is answering the questions posed as directly as you can.

I don’t actually know whether the partners have complete transcripts of the first interview either, but my partner didn’t seem pre-occupied with earlier stages. He obviously knew I had passed them, and at this point it was up to him to decide. The competency based interviews I was asked by the partner were similar to the ones mentioned by lots of posters on this forum and the ones I got asked in the first interview, so don’t be alarmed about their structure if you already know how to deal with them in general.

What I would say is that the partner questions I had were more slanted towards commercial awareness and especially career motivation, i.e. what the firm does, how it does it and what it could do differently. I don’t think they are looking for groundbreaking ideas, but they want to see you have an understanding of the firm and profession you are entering.

Anyway, sorry for rambling, and good luck.


Ok, that’s great advice!

Thanks very much


Dear All,
I am applying for 2012 Graduate Audit Program St Albans.
I was going through the application procedure, and they have changed it a bit (correct me if I am wrong). I did not see any essay questions in the initial application form, the ones relating to “Why are you applying to KPMG”…“What is you understanding of Audit?”…have they changed the process?
Please comment as I applied to KPMG in 2009 and there were 3 essay type questions in the application form, and not seeing them this time around has startled me a bit :slight_smile:

Waiting for your response.