KPMG - my experiences


I just wrote a 2504 word essay on my KPMG assessment day and also my failure to get a job at a previous PWC assessment day. However I got timed out due to inactivity (I’m in a library) and I thought I had copied it (apparently not).

So quite annoyed at the moment and not in the mood to typing it all out again, not right now anyway. However I am more than happy to answer any questions. Sorry guys, I need to build up the energy to write it all out again.

Here is a quick overview

PWC failed because

  • onlines tests; I was fine 99th percentile and 86th percentile for the tests so I was academically fine. I struggled in social interactions though and it showed.
  • group exercise; made to look like an idiot at the first 10 seconds, lost confidence and meant I spent a lot of time writing down information and said a bit but not enough. Writing makes it look like I’m not listening.
  • partner interview; knew a lot about business etc, struggled with examples since they mainly involved skills sessions run by Big 4 accountancy firms. I thought this would be impressive but they said the situations created were artificial. Instead I should focus on university or work related experiences.


  • application form; I was short and to the point
  • online tests; verbal scored 96th percentile, numeracy 65th. Numeracy was difficult and I only answered around 14 questions. Don’t expect to finish the numeracy though the verbal is managable. Also don’t worry if you get 6-7 answers in a row the same. I answered about 6 ‘can’t tell’ in a row.
  • fast tracked to AC but partner interview and group exercise/e-tray were held on separate days (and separate locations)
  • Partner interview; mainly commercial awareness questions, only 2 competency questions, one on team work and one on challenges. Gave me very little opportunity to sell myself so I suggest you make full use of it.
  • Presentation; on Ryanair, just prepare beforehand and practice several times. Aim for 9mins 30 secs and make sure you answer the bullet points. Overview of the organisation should be very brief. Most important is advice and how KPMG can help.
  • E-tray multiple choice; the multiple choice I found easy. I suggest not reading through everything right at the start. I found this was taking too much time so instead I just read through very briefly all the pages not remember specifics but knowning what information was on each sheet so I could refer back to it very quickly later.
  • E-tray written; The written exercise was more difficult. You have to make a recommendation. I suggest not wasting time analysing all of them in detail but pick one that sounds plausible and justifying it. Being able to justify is the key thing along with time management. Make sure both e-mails do not differ in length too much.
  • Group exercise; took time to socialise with all the candidates. This helps confidence and build the feeling of a team rather than competitors. I wrote next to nothing and focused on listening and acknowledging ideas as well as asking people on their opinions. We performed very well in my opinion though the presentation (more of a talk) was not well prepared meaning it took quite a while. I also kept focusing on the objectives so if conversation every deviated I would say ‘Ok that sounds reasonable but lets focus on that later and deal with the objectives first’ or something to that effect but nicer and more diplomatic and less dismissive.

Feedback was vague. You are rated 1-5 on the competencies, 5 being good. You need 3 or more in all areas. I scored 5 in task management, 4 in drive and commercial awareness, 3 in the others.

My advice, prepare! It’s so easy to do and made me more confident especially after realising how much I knew compared to other candidates.

Also if you fail to get a job, don’t get discouraged and use it as a platform to build on. Work on your weaknesses and see it as a valuable learning experience.

Hope this helps, and once again questions are more than welcome. I need food now…


Thanx Terry,

Do u think Group exercise is imporant as long as u contribute and perform well in partner interview?

I am gutted more than u r that u lost that essay really


Oh no! Losing a long piece of work is unbelievably annoying. Thanks for this post anyhow Terry!


Yes, all areas are important, I actually mentioned this in my original post.

I scored a 2 in my ‘leadership’ competency however I scored a 3 in my group exercise. They informed me that that I still passed because the group exercise was the main measure of leadership in their assessments and I managed to score a 3 in that.

edit by original I mean the one I lost


Hi, Terry, thank you for sharing your experience.

I am a little bit worried about E-tray. Is it difficult? Do the candidates have enough time? How to prepare for E-tray? Because I am not a native English speaker, so it is a bit difficult for me to go through the text within limited time. Any advice? Thanks


To prepare for the e-tray exercise I used the following;

I struggled to find many sources to be honest.

Most of my advice is in the first post.

Don’t worry it’s not too difficult in my opinion but I found that knowing where to find the information quickly was important so I’d advise to quickly go through the booklet at the start just to get a feel of what information you’re given. There were actually quite a few quick calculations regarding dates. Often you would have to tell people when you could meet deadlines or when people were free to help you with tasks.

My advice for the written part of the e-tray exercise as mentioned earlier is to simply pick an option and then justify it. For example I was given information with various marketing options and had to take into account the following; estimated profits, short-term/long term and what preferences of the target audience. Simply just pick an option that is fairly strong in at least 2 of these areas and then explain that. Clear and concise is more important than writing loads though be careful that both e-mails don’t differ in length too much since it may seem that you spent ages on one and rushed the other (time management).

In my answers I didn’t burn my bridges, I was clear to point out that my advice was recommendations based on current data. Estimated profits are only an estimate, tables and graphs are usually forecasted growth or last year’s survey, you can negotiate with suppliers etc, hopefully you get the idea.

Also try and keep spelling and grammar correct.


Great article Terry!


Thank you for sharing Terry.


Someone PM’d me asking for information on presentation info. He was planning to do something on a charity or Redbull, I thought I may as well paste my reply here incase it helps anyone else.

Of course I’m no expert and this is based mainly on my own experiences only.

'Wow so sorry but I only checked my private messages just now!!

Once again sorry I didn’t see this message but to be honest I would have suggested not to do a charity. I’m not sure if I mentioned it but I chose Ryanair which is risky since they’re large, a KPMG client and in an industry which is constantly on the news. However I decided to choose Ryanair anyway because I knew quite a lot about them. Charities are quite complicated and most people I know choose a company that is fairly small and local so the questions asked are quite basic.

For the large companies you’re not expected to know everything about everything so I focused on just the expansion part of Ryanair since it specifically asks for methods of further developing the business.

I think that having an economics background helped me a bit, but I read a lot of financial news anyway. I’ll be honest I didn’t get many tough questions regarding my presentation but I reckon I probably knew more about this particular topic than the partner anyway. I had done way more research than most other candidates and my brother helpfully found a lot of financial reports for me to look for.

For future reference

Anyway other tips

  • go through the presentation outloud, in front of a family member or friend ideally. Talk at a normal pace and don’t ‘er’ and ‘erm’.
  • Make sure it’s around 9mins 30secs rather than 10mins incase you go over.
  • Smile, firm handshake, eye contact when presenting
  • Someone I spoke to had a real problem presentation where questions were thrown at him throughout the presentation but I don’t think this is the norm and it didn’t happen to me. If it does though, just be careful and don’t get flustered
  • Handouts should just have bullet points that you’ll cover and charts/diagrams as well if you need. If you’re not covering it then don’t bullet point it. Don’t write excessive notes , the handouts are just for a quick reference, not something you should read from.
  • I hadn’t done a presentation like this before either but practice and preparation helped my confidence a lot.

How did it go anyway? And if you’ve got any more of the process to go then I’m more than happy to help. I know chances are this information is too late but I found that learning from my previous mistakes got me my KPMG job (and mentioning that you learn from your mistakes is something nice to tell the interviewer!!)’

edit about a zillion small mistakes that have been corrected




Thanks Terry
How long did it take until they emailed you your online test results by the way?
also, what’s the mark to pass for the KPMG online tests?


Hi Terry,

Thanks for sharing your successful stories in KPMG, well done!!

for the presentation, can you choose any company you want, or were you given a list of companies to choose from?

You mentioned there were two emails to write for E-tray, whom were they for, and what to write on them?