This forum has been fantastic. I pretty much owe getting two offers to everyone who has helped out here on wikijob!
I will give a brief summary of my experiences with both companies (I didn’t attend the EY assessment centre as already had a KPMG offer by then) to hopefully give an updated help to those still in the application process!
KPMG - Audit (Public Sector)
. The first interview was with a manager in Public Sector and this was at the same office that I applied to.
It was very structured but at the same time she spent a good few minutes making casual conversation before we started - so I felt pretty relaxed before the questions started!
I did not get asked a single question that has not been posted here already. My advice would be to seriously read EVERYTHING on here regarding KPMG - collate every question (no matter how random it may seem) and prepare an answer for it.
Commercial Awareness: There was a strong focus in this interview on commercial awareness - after I spoke about the potential break up of the Big 4 (read the ongoing audit debate on competition in the audit market (Accountancy Age is a fantastic website that you should all have bookmarked!), she then quizzed me on more general ‘not so specific to audit’ problems. I kind of stumbled a bit and kicked myself later for not realising the obvious (public sector spending cuts!!) - but I just mentioned the recession in general etc. etc.
Lesson - if you mess up one bit of the interview it really isn’t that important.
It took about a week for me to find out I had gone through, and another week or so to find out the date of my a/c, and another month of waiting for the actual a/c.
My partner interview was delayed for the day after my a/c
I arrived pretty early (15mins early) but everyone bar one was already there! Was a good opportunity to speak to everyone and try and relax. My advice: don’t get too stuck in conversations that are clear show boating - one lad kept going on about how he already has an offer from PwC and how hard these a/c are etc. etc. Just ignore it and spend your time talking to someone else!
We got taken into a meeting room with laptops arranged for us. A quick ice-breaker “hi my name is x, I go to y and I study Z…” etc. and loads of instructions (about 10mins worth) then the e-tray got under way.
I had done absolutely NO preparation for the e-tray apart from read other posts here (which generally seem to agree you can’t really prepare for it!).
My advice would go against other posts here in that I did NOT spend 5-10mins reading all the information in the folders. I dived into the emails straight away. I would say this is a better strategy because the majority of the emails actually point you to where you should look - so spending 10mins reading beforehand doesn’t help too much in my opinion).
I’ve got a major problem of constantly day dreaming when I read too much and had to constantly snap myself out of random thoughts and pay attention to what I was reading (I consider myself to be a slow reader!) and I managed to finish all the task with about 2 mins to spare. So if I can do it anyone can!
Don’t rush too much as a correct answer is better than a fast answer. BEST ADVICE: If you’re stuck on an email, seriously close it down and move on! When you go through the other ones you end up reading additional information which suddenly makes the first email seem very obvious! Remember to do this!!
Written Exercise: A lot of people on my a/c said they struggled with this.
I would say spend 10mins reading the information and make your choice. Don’t debate it too much in your mind - if you see one choice is naturally calling out to you, then go for it! The assessment lies in how you justify your choices - there is no wrong answer.
Once you decide what you’re going for: 1) Make notes on the pros / cons 2) make notes on alternative choices - why not them?
The written exercise tests how well you can communicate, but also how good you are at persuasive writing. Don’t linger too long on the cons of you choice - if you do mention the cons quickly refute them with a pro.
My structure was as follows:
To The Board of xxx,
- brief intro - mention what your email is and what you are doing
- write out your recommendation… I ended this with “I hope I can highlight the reasons for this below…” then I started with my reasons
- “Alternatively, the following choices could have been considered…however after taking into consideration blah blah blah…”
-Thank you very much for your time and I hope I have managed to convey why Choice A is the best blah blah…
- Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions…
I had time to make some basic calculations for quick comparisons, so if you have the time then do so! If not then concentrate more on your writing!!
Lunch - very fun and enjoyable. Very relaxed and I genuinely don’t feel you are being assessed (you’re with other graduates who are just happy to be out of the office having a free lunch!). Great time to ask any questions you may have.
Group Exercise - I was fortunate enough to have a 30min wait for my group exercise. We were already told who will be in what group so I spent this time getting to know my group (screw the others lol!). This is a great opportunity to get relaxed with your group and feel confident speaking to them. We agreed that no one should be too dominating and pretty much set out a structure for ourselves…
I found the exercise very straight forward. After every point I made I followed with 'what do you think? / do you agree?". Don’t argue. Don’t shut down some one else’s view. There is no right/wrong answer again - it’s all about how you can work in a team.
There was an awkward silence for about 5 seconds as no one was immediately willing to be the first to speak - so I jumped in and said ‘Ok guys, does everyone understand the task?’ that helped everyone else to jump in and the exercise got underway.
At the end you give a small presentation (very informal - still sat down on your chairs!) - not sure how much of this is assessed but I felt my delivery on this was shocking (was speaking far too quietly not sure if I was just drained by the end of the day or what!).
After that I went home but others went to the partner interview.
My partner interview was the day after and I decided to present on Apple Inc.
I have heard countless people say do not choose a big company etc. but honestly - IT DOES NOT MATTER. The key lesson from all of this is as that nothing matters in what you do - it is how you do it that counts.
My partner was genuinely lovely – did a brilliant job at making me feel relaxed and I genuinely felt like it was a conversation. He really enjoyed the presentation (he is a big Apple gadget fan) and spent a good 15mins talking about my knowledge of Apple (this didn’t feel like an interview and I felt he was genuinely interested and not asking questions for the sake of assessment).
Then the competency questions came - I was tested on competencies that my initial interviewer did not test - so bare this in mind. Again very informal and relaxed so if you know what you are talking about then you’ll be fine!
By the end of the interview he was talking about where I’d be in the office - almost as if I had already got the job! However was a painful 2 week wait before I found out! A certain somebody tells me that if YOU FAIL then you will find out soon. If you don’t find out soon then you will have passed - but they are trying to figure somethings out internally - not sure how accurate it is but it was the case for me! Turns out the 2 week delay was because the office I had applied to was full but the partner was trying to increase the spaces to get me there - ended up offering a job in a different office though!
First interview - similar to KPMG - again read through ALL the questions here and revise them like it’s an exam! This interview was actually my favourite experience out of all of EY, KPMG and Deloitte. Was with my to-be manager and he was a great bloke. Was so relaxed that I almost naturally swore (filthy mouth!) and had to stop myself! So yea don’t get carried away if you get too relaxed.
Assessment Centre - on the whole, if you have passed KPMG I would say Deloitte is a given! I found it much easier. There is no group exercise so it’s all individual.
The e-tray was more straight forward and I actually finished with 20 mins to spare - though please take your time as I’m sure I made some stupid errors in trying to work too fast! There are no calculations to do (and hence no calculator provided) and generally there are more ‘decision’ questions than KPMG (questions where you’re not asked to find relevant info - but to make a decision on the spot). This is great because these questions only take a few seconds to complete.
Written exercise - exactly the same advice as for KPMG and I’d say the two are on the same level in terms of difficulty. Remember to be persuasive!
We were told the partner MAY interview us on our written exercise - so we were given the opportunity to write some notes down on what we had written. I would say prepare for this just in case although my partner spent about 3 mins on it and it felt like he was just doing it because he had to!
Lunch - unlike KPMG you go to lunch with an assistant manager / manager from your office! So be sharp and on point! It is most definitely assessed. The assistant manager who I was with was very down to earth and I found it very comfortable! Just be yourself and conversational. I let him steer the convo towards work everytime it went off topic - didn’t want to seem like I can’t chill out with someone and just talk about work all the time! I asked him about his hobbies as much as he asked me about mine etc. etc. just did everything to make it not sound like an interview. All in all I think it was a great hour with lovely food! Remember these latter stages they just care about who you are! You’ve already proven that you’re good enough to be there technically - but by then they just want to know if they’d like working with you! Personality > abilities at this case, in MY opinion.
Partner Interview - well if KPMG didn’t give me the idea that by this stage you pretty much have the job, then Deloitte definitely did! The guy spent an hour just talking about what I’d be doing in my first year etc. didn’t ask me a single question and I was actually very confident by the end of it because he was talking hypothetical situations with me in them (like if I knew this certain pub…and don’t worry we’ll take you there when you start in September…").
But again others have said this interview can be technical - so it really depends on your partner. I would still say that even the technical ones are looking for how your personality shines through as they have established you are good enough technically already (so why ask again?)!
Deloitte job offer came the morning after so much quicker than KPMG and hopefully meaning no hiccups in the process!
I will be accepting Deloitte as throughout my process, for reasons I struggle to identify, I have found them the better company! But really I’m sure the two are so comparable that a flip of a coin would make a better decision for you!
I hope this has helped at least one person out there and I’ll be here for any followups! But once again thanks to everyone who has contributed to this forum!