Hello everyone, I have recently received an offer to start the graduate training scheme with Mazars and wanted to share my experience. I found websites such as wikijobs and the student room invaluable resources when applying for graduate schemes and hope others can profit from my experience.
The first stage was the application form. This is pretty standard with a combination of motivational and competency questions. Once you have completed and submitted the application form you will hear back from the firm within a week. You will then be invited to take online numerical and verbal reasoning tests provided by Kenexa. You can complete some practice questions before taking the actual test. The best advice I can give is to practice as many tests as you can beforehand but there is nothing too difficult. If you are successful at both tests the next stage you will be invited to is the interview. The time it takes for the interview confirmation can vary as some have said they have been invited to an interview straight away but it was about 10 days before I got invited to my interview.
My interview was held at their London office in Tower Hill. Someone from the HR department and a manager from the department you are applying for will generally complete your interview. The interviewers are very friendly and immediately put you at ease. The interview is split into two sections an analytical exercise and a competency based interview. You are required to complete the analytical exercise first. The exercise is not tricky at all. You have a single side of A4, which you will be required to read and make notes on in 10 minutes. The interviewer will then ask you a number of questions on the article such as what are the main aims of the article, who are the main stakeholders, what are the main problems and what solutions can you think of to solve these problems. This exercise is measuring your ability to quickly assimilate information and communicate that information effectively. The next part of the interview is competency based. This will include questions on motivation, teamwork and the qualification you will be studying for. As others have said the interview is not daunting at all and you do not feel like the interviewer is trying to trip you up. Just keep calm and remember to use the STAR approach to answer the questions.
If you pass the interview then the next and final stage will be the assessment centre. The assessment centre is an intense day. You will be split into groups with a set timetable of tasks to complete. The tasks are an intray exercise, a partner interview, a group exercise and a short presentation.
The first exercise my group was require to complete was the intray exercise. This is quite easily the hardest part of the day. The task itself is not too difficult but the time restraint is quite steep. This exercise is split into three sections: the first section requires you to look through a number of emails and prioritise them by importance and whether they are important/ urgent or not. You will also be required to address any links between the documents. The second exercise is split into two parts: the first involves planning a conference from the documents in the first section of the exercise and explaining any assumptions. The second part involves creating a budget for the dinner using the information provided. The final part is relatively straightforward. You are required to write a memo to encourage managers to send their staff to the conference. The important thing to do in this exercise is to start writing as soon as possible as you cannot be marked on what you do not write down. Time management is a key part of this task and it is likely that you will not be able to finish all tasks. I spent too much time on the first part of section two of the intray, which meant I did not get enough time to adequately complete the budget for the conference dinner. A number of individuals have reported that they did not feel they had done well on this task but have gone on to receive offers. Therefore, if you feel you have not done your best do not dwell on this too much and focuses on doing your best in the other three exercises.
The next part of my day was the partner interview. The experience of the partner interview differs depending on the partner who you interview with. My partner interview was extremely informal and more of a general conversation to get to know whether I would be a good fit for the firm. However, others I spoke to on the day said that their interview was wholly competency based. Therefore, I would advise ensuring adequate knowledge on the firm, any commercial awareness issues and brushing up on your competency question examples.
The group exercise was the next task of the day. This exercise involved selecting one of three scenarios and discussing in your group why you chose that option, three problems with the option you have chosen and then five solutions to the problems you have discovered. The key here is to ensure you make key points, do not interrupt others, time manage if you can, try keep the group on task and use people’s names to give a more personal touch.
The final assessed part of the day is the presentation. You pick a topic at random and then have 10 minutes to prepare a presentation on the topic you have chosen and then 5 minutes to present your topic. You can then be asked questions by the rest of your group on your presentation. There is nothing you can do to prepare for in advance for this task.
The rest of the day involves a lunch, presentations and an opportunity to go for a drink with the graduate “couriers” that will be ushering you around on the day.
My message to those of you that have been trying to secure a training contact but have been unsuccessful so far is to not give up. I started applying for graduate contracts from last year and have attended a number of assessment centres since then including PWC, BDO, UHY, Baker Tilly, the government fast stream (FSAC) and a few smaller firms. Each assessment centre you complete will give you valuable experience that you will be able to utilise during the next opportunity you are given.
If you have any questions feel free to comment below and I will try my best to answer them.