I received an offer for a grad position at PKF in Liverpool last week and so thought I would post about my experience and the process…
After sitting the online tests, I received and email inviting me to attend a first interview, this was at the office to which I had applied and with two audit managers.
I found the interview really quite relaxed and was really based around the application form. Questions included:
Why mid-tier over big 4?
What do you know about ACA qualification?
Why chose uni and course?
Modules at uni
When have you worked as a team?
How did u deal with difficult members of the team/ how did you overcome problems?
What do you think you will be doing in your first year?
How will u balance working and studying?
Hobbies and interests
Opportunity to ask questions… (this is where you can show off that you have done your research on the company and show a real interest in life with the firm… mention social events, secondments, progression etc.)
If you do your research on the company and the qualification you should find all the other questions relatively easy to answer, try and give a range of examples when answering questions surrounding teamwork too give a rounded view of you as a person.
You really dont need to worry if you havnt participated in lots of things at uni (as I havent) draw on experiences within your course that involved working as a team eg a presentation or group coursework and part time jobs.
PKF seem big on client relationships so try and bring in examples where you have had to do this.
Also PKF offer secondments and encourage staff to participate in these once qualified to broaden experience so be enthusiastic about this as it is a really good opportunity not offered by many other mid tier fims.
Key is to show personality and smile alot, I feel I had a good connection with the managers that interviewed me and I think this really benefited me in terms of feeling confident and relaxed during the interview.
The interview lasts between 45mins and 1hour and I was contacted the next working day to ask me to attend the next stage.
The second interview consists of verifying online tests and working on a case study (on the hotel industry in the UK) which you are able to prepare for in advance of the interview and take notes with you.
My research was centred around opportunities and threats in the industry at the moment and in the future (olympics being an opportunity for example and the growth of budget hotels a threat), I looked at potential strategies and trends.
The online tests are similar to the ones sat after the application stage however slightly shorter, some people have said they may have been the same as the first ones but mine were defiantly different and I was worried if I had passed! So make sure you practise online if you (like me) are not the strongest at the tests.
I was then taken into a room and briefed on the case study by one of the audit managers that was at my first interview, it was nice to see a familiar face and made me feel more at ease. The manager really went out of his way to make sure I understood what was asked of me and to make sure I was comfortable- something I think gave a really good impression of the firm.
I then had 75 mins to prepare a SWOT analysis based on the hypothetical hotel chain that had 6 hotels all with various problems- some profitable, some with huge loans, some loss makers etc. I found the SWOT quite easy and had quite alot of ideas particularly for the opportunities and threats, try to link your research to the case study though as it is not a SWOT of the industry but of the hotel chain itself!!
The second part was to prepare a letter of recommendation to the directors on three factors that you believe could be improved. There are no right or wrong answers as you will be told in the brief, however you reallyyyyy need to be able to give a good justification as to what you say.
I was worried that my spelling would let me down in this task however I think the written exercise is just a base for talking points in the interview rather than for assessment of spelling and grammar.
After 75 mins the manager and a partner returned, firstly the partner introduced himself, he was lovely, really friendly and put you at ease, again giving me a positive image of the firm. He then asked questions about my SWOT in which i gave examples that I had written down while trying to build on them and justify using the research I had done prior to the interview. Try and maintain eye contact, dont bury your head in the papers.
I got a realllllyyyy good grilling on why I has recommended the things I had, so be prepared! I was asked what I would do with each of the hotels- this threw me a bit as I did not expect to be asked on individual recommendations for the hotels. However its important to think logically- play to the companys strengths- if its a money maker encourage the firm to capitalise upon the opportunity. If its a loss maker dont be afraid to say you would sell the hotel (as this is something I didnt consider and had to be prompted towards saying it) Try not to sit on the fence, give a recommendation even if it sounds like an unlikely scenrio its better than saying nothing as long as you can give a justification. Try and think outside the box too this will impress.
I was asked to talk them through what the balance sheet, income statement and cashflow statements may look like (as i am an accounting student they obviously expected me to know) but if your not i guess they prob wont ask that question.
I breathed a sigh of relief when this part of the interview was over and i could go back to talking about me!
Questions were similar to the 1st interview and there wasnt many of them. The partner did most of the talking in all honesty giving me examples of places he had been working- he had just got back from China, and telling me about the opportunities that are available and the type of clients ill be working for.
At the end of the interview I was told that should my results of the online tests be verified then they would love to offer me the job!
I was obviously veryyyyy excited and slightly shocked (and praying i hadnt screwed up the tests)
I received a call from Mairead the next day formally offering me the job, which I took and my contract was delivered the next day!!!
I would really encourage people to apply to PKF as they really do seem like a supportive firm and a good place to work, i found reviews online from graduates and they all ranked PKF very highly!
I dont start until January so my salary hasnt been confirmed yet butI was told this year it was between 17,500 and 18,500 which im guessing is for a regional office.
If anyone has any questions, ill try my best to help!