My Assessment Centre Experience at KPMG

The Graduate
Civil Service Fast Track

Hi Everyone! I want to thank WIkijob and all the member who have contributed towards giving the best advice for interview candidates. They really helped me to prepare for the Assessment Centre (which I had today), so I wanted to give back by sharing my own experience.

Morning: I arrived at the office very early (nearly 45 minutes as I left home at 6.45am). The building is in a lovely location, I was based at the Canary Wharf branch in Canada Square. For a quick description, the building is situated inside a shopping centre, so there is a large Waitrose nearby. You can see the HSBC building as the nearest neighbour to KPMG. It is by far the most posh and lush office I have been in!

After arriving, I was booked in and asked to take a seat. Soon, 3 other candidates joined me and we all introduced each other and chatted for a few minutes until the Graduate Recruiter came to get us.

Introductions: The GR took us to the Assessor’s Room, where we where seated at places with our names written on them. Like many people have posted, there were laptops for each of us. She introduced herself, and got us to tell a bit about ourselves, before giving us the rundown for the day. I was the only candidate to be having a full day (i.e. e-tray to interview) whereas the other candidates had split AC’s.

E-Tray: So the first task was evidently the e-tray exercise. The GR took us through the instructions and then we were left in the room to get on with the task. I can say at this point for those who have attempted the Civil Service Sample, that the KPMG format is exactly the same and not as hard. However, it is not completely easy either. There is a lot of information to take in which is provided in the exercise and in paper, and in the 70mins they provide you for task 1, this includes reading time, so it is not really a lot. Approach to the task is quick and accurate, however don’t rush too much. I did thinking that I would have run out of time, and ended up finishing 22 emails and having 15 minutes left for the last 2 to come through!. You have 24 emails to complete in 70mins, you initially start of with about 6-7 emails. The calculation questions were in my view, the easiest, about a third of them are just judgement questions, so you don’t need to refer to the data. Some emails have attachments which contain the answer for the email, and the remainder you need to look at the information in the folders provided.

Words of advice: make sure you acknowledge the attachments, if you don’t know the answer, come back to it later.

After the first task, we were allowed a short break and then started the second task. This one in my view, was much easier. It lasted 50 minutes and involved 2 typed email responses to data provided. The scenario is carried on from the first task. The information that they give you was in my view quite simple to interpret, it’s basically comparing some figures and comments, justifying which one is the best for consideration and typing the email response.

During the e-tray exercise, they look for your abilities in time management, making an impact, business focus and decision making skills. The exercise will time out automatically once the task is over.

Group Exercise: After a breather, we were called in to do the group exercise. We were provided with booklets full of data and charts (which was easy to understand). The exercise was again looking at strengths, weaknesses and making recommendations. We were given 10 minutes to read the information and jot notes. After the ten minutes, 2 assessors came in and sat at the back of the room. They did not interact with us at all, but quietly observed how we interacted as a team. We were given 30 mins to share ideas and come up with a summary of our findings. We decided to split the task up so that one member talked about strengths, one about weaknesses in brief, then the other two members discussed the recommendations we had decided upon. Overall it is a very simple task, and the key is to listen, contribute and try not to dominate the group. I have heard experience where many people were quite insensitive to the other members, so just be cool and relaxed. Our group managed to get on great, as we all equally contributed and spoke with confidence.

Lunch: By far the funnest part of the day! The canteen in the Canary Wharf building is so nice and the view is phenomenal. We were met by two graduate trainees who took us to lunch. We discussed about KMPG for about 2 hours. This part was non-assessed so totally relaxing (Good since you need to calm you nerves before going to the interview!) Main advice given was just be yourself, do not lie to the partner as they will know. just give truthful answers.

2.30pm: Partner Presentation and Interview: I would like to say at this point…that in the morning I managed to get my handout partly wet by putting my folder too near the sink in the bathroom when I went to wash my hands!! I was a bit panicked at this point, so just explained to the partner. She didn’t mind at all, she said that the assessment was based purely on how the delivery of the speech was and body language.

The partners at KPMG are so nice! They are very friendly and make you feel comfortable. I didn’t even feel like I was in an interview (but that doesn’t mean that you can come unprepared!!). My business was Comet Electrical as I work there, and included things like brief history, financial and market overview and SWOT analysis. I gave the presentation, the partner mostly observes how you talk, but at the end she asked me a few questions.
some of the questions I remember are:

  • What do you enjoy most about working at Comet?
  • What motivates you?
  • Describe a time you had to deal with conflict?
  • Why audit?
  • Tell me how you keep up to date with business news? (at this point, I mentioned the BP oil spill which prompted the next question)
  • What is your opinion about the BP oil spill?
  • What services can KPMG offer Comet?
  • Have you had to work as a team?
  • How would you describe your natural position when working in a team?

Then I asked her some questions and we chatted for a bit. I would say that if the partner doesn’t prompt anything in regards to why do you want to work for KPMG, then drop it in whenever you can. You need to show you care about the company and definitely want to work there. They will write it down if you mention it. I mentioned awards that KPMG got, the support network, the diverse environment and the career progression opportunities.

and that was it! So overall it was a great day, I had a lot of fun talking to the staff there. Just be yourself and do not panic! There is no need to!

Best of luck to everyone who has AC’s coming up.

I’ll keep you posted about any updates! :smiley:


Well done Shahum, I hope you get the job


Hello Shahhum

I was at the same AC as you (sat next to you at lunch). Nice to meet you.

Glad to hear your presentation and interview went well. Have you found out if you’ve got an offer yet?

Hope all is well.

For anyone else attending an AC, I’d echo Shahhum’s points above and add that it’s worth turning up early to have a chat to the other candidates. I think this helped us in the group exercise, and made it feel like we were all in it together, rather than in competition.

The day is a little daunting on paper but it’s broken up well, you have plenty of time to compose yourself. Keep in mind the competencies that are being assessed in the task. Stick to what you know and you’ll be OK.


Hey have you guys heard back from them yet? It’s my third working day tomorrow since my assessment day and wondered if they leave it longer to tell you if you’re unsuccessful?!

Any thoughts?



Yep, heard at 5pm on Friday (third working day). Got an offer.

I don’t see why they would leave it longer if you were unsuccessful. How long did they say it would take? You could call up to ask if they’re going to be able to get back to you tomorrow. At least that way you know if it will be longer.

Best of luck!



Thank you so much for replying! I know I’m stressing insanely but thought i’d ask the question.

Lots of people I’d spoken to about Grad Jobs said that the longer after the promised time you leave it, the less likely you are to get a job so kinda thought i’d ask on this to see what you guys received!


Hi hyeah!!

Which one were you…tell me your name so I can remember!

Unfortunately I didn’t get an offer…need to work on my commerical awareness a bit.

But congratulations! Maybe you can give me some tips for next time I apply. Stay in touch in fact you can find me on facebook. My picture is of some hands with henna on them.

All the best for your graduate scheme.


Oh wait i think i know which one now…harry right?