Pkf - full experiences


Having just received an offer from PKF for a Grad Programme in Audit in Nottingham, I thought it was only fair I posted all my experiences on here too. If you do have any further questions then please just post something on here or PM me and I’ll try and get back to you.

Application Form - There is not much advice I can offer for this, as long as you meet the requirements for your intake the Wikijob walkthrough pretty much explains everything. I used all my characters available to show some effort but generally I think if you meet the requirements hen you will be invited to take the ability tests. I got an email at 9am on monday morning saying they had received my application form and that it could take 15 days to get back to me. It was quicker than this, in fact they got back to me at 5.15 the same day putting me through to the online tests.

Number and Verbal Tests were standard, not as difficult as KPMG.I find the verbal strangely easier than the numerical so I do them with often ten minutes to spare. The Numerical is harder and i strugle mainly cos the time ticks down very fast, i.e. the questions in themselves arent difficult but there just inst enough time sometimes. I did the tests that night, and they got back to me 9am the next morning saying i had passed the tests. However the email they sent me was very ambiguous:’ We will be reviewing applications and shortlisting candidates for first stage interviews as soon as possible and will be in touch then’

I did not understand where i was then. It took them 3 WEEKS to get back to me (only after i emailed them twice). The email was not what i was expecting and read
‘I have read through your experience and academic history with interest but regret to inform you that the role you have applied to has now been filled.’ The had filled all the places for the Liverpool office which i had applied to. I them emailed her back and asked if i could apply to any offices with any remaining places the email read ‘Simply let me know which office you would like to apply for and I will transfer your application over’. So I asked to apply to the Nottingham office which i believe had one place left. The lady said that If i applied i would be invited to first stage interview and I was invited for interview on the 3rd of Feb.

First Interview This is a competency based interview. I only had a day to prepare so i crammed on questions of i expected to come up, why pkf why audit etc.
In actual fact the partner who interviewd me was the best ive had, very relaxed, literally reclined and laid back in his seat. He asked me why here and not the big four, and went through my applciation form question by question and asked me to elaborate. So there wernt any difficult questions really. He then started talking about his experience with the firm, some of the jobs he was on. And then talked about the exams and asked me how i dealt with exams. He asked me what firms i had applied for and why not some others, eg. i said i applied for mid tier firms because i was genuinly interested in the work and wanted to have full exposure, which the big four didnt offer as much in the early years.

You need to be confident when you talk, but the advice i would gvie is know your application form well, cos thats the main thing he asked me about. They also like it when you manage to use a variety of examples such as work, studies, hobbies that sort of thing. Just be prepared with your answers and this will also help you manipulate answers when you get asked something that you haven’t prepared for. I left the interview feeling q.relaxed and happy with how it went. He also said to me that usually he can tell within the first 10 minutes who he will hire and who not, so i didnt know if that was a good sign or not, since he did most of the talking in the second half of the interview.

Literaly ten minutes after i walked out of the office, ( i was in the train station waiting for my train) i got an email on my blackberry saying i had progressed to final interview which was ot be held on the 24 of feb. I couldnt attend that so opted for a week later.

The final interview as a case study interview, and i got an email the week before confirming the detials and which partner and manager i would be with. It also said to read up on the health and leisure industry for 2 to 3 hours!!!.

I decided to drive to the final interview and set of from liverpool at 6.30 to get in for 9. Obviously there was an accident on the motorway and while the navigator told me i was 7 miles away it actually took me an hour to drive 7 miles and ended up being half an hour late, at which i thought id blown all my chances.

Credit to the team, they told me they understood and that these things happened, which relaxed me a bit. I was then left in a room for 75 minutes to do the case study abut FFF a fictional ( i think ) gym firm. The case study was 2 sides and you had to make 4 recomendations of how they could improve their business. All the detials required were provided and so reading up before was a waste of time really. You then had to discuss with the interviewers the strenghts + weaknesses of the firm. Anyhow, i did this in 45 mins, after reading and rereading what id written. When my time wa sup both came in and we discusses the study for maybe half an hour.

They then moved on to me, why had i applied for pkf? why nottingham? what do i know about the CA qualification and how it differed from ACA? what other offers and firms did i apply to and have, at which i said i had a final interview from GT. It was all a very laid back chat and then they just went through my application form again. afte ran hour of this, they strangely asked to be excuses, and came back in 2 mins later and said that while they didnt want to get ahead of themselves, the outcome ;‘would be good’ and that id have confirmation within 2 weeks of my offer. They showed me round the office for 5 minutes and it all seemed very friendly and relaxed atmosphere. I was very impressed actually, and it seems like a great place to work.

Hope that helps some people, thought id give back since wikijob gave alot to me. if u have nay questions ill be happy to answer.


Thanks for sharing your experience rauters. I’m in a similar position to when you applied to PKF at the start: I orginally applied for audit at Leeds, I passed their online tests then didn’t hear from them till 4 WEEKS later when the emailed me to say that the vacancies at Leeds were filled. I asked for my application to be transferred to Sheffield but I haven’t heard from them for about 3 weeks now. What should I do?

I want to ask: how did find the application process overall? I think I’m ok with preparing for the first interview because I’ve had lots of experience with them, but how was the case study? What questions did they ask you? Did you get asked any commercial awareness questions in any of your interviews?



Hi Rauters and gradtrainee,

I’m in the same boat as you Rauters, I have applied for the CA route in Nottingham and just recieved an email to do the online tests.

Well done on getting the offer in Nottingham !. Any idea how many graduate places they have in that particular office ?.

Were the online tests hard ?



@ Grad trainee - I called the lady who was emailing me at the start, she was called Mairead, shes at the manchester office, after i did that she emailed me straight away.

The process overall was the best so far for me personally, easy, relaxed, and they seemed genuinly interested in stuff i had to say. When i had a look round the offices they seemed the least stressful and most in tune and friendly with eachother.

The case study was simple i would say, not very difficult at all, and you get plenty of time. I got a bit grilled about it, but because you could read from your notes, there wasnt a problem really. In responce to commercial awareness they didnt really ask me any, but i did try and stick in what i knew, but not specifically no. Let me know if u need any more help.

@Chim - I think they have 4 or 5 places in that office, but i dont know how many they have taken on yet…The online tests wernt difficult really…compared to some of the other ive done.


Rauters:- Thanks for the reply rauters, I really appreciate it. Did you have just the case study and partner interview for your assessment day? I know a few of the bigger firms give a full-on assessment and loads of tasks to complete. Also, do you mind telling me more about what you had to do in your case study and what questions they asked you on it? I’ve never done one before, so need as much help as I can get.

I know that PKF train in CA but can you ask to train in ACA? I know there’s not much difference in both qualifications, but it woyld be good to know.

Chim:- the online tests I did were surprising much easier than some of the others I’ve done. There is no need to worry about them. I still think that it’s best to practise a lot before you take the real tests, so you feel fully prepared.



Yeah thanks gradtrainee, I wont take the risk so I better get practicing, I have an online ability test for Ernst and Young aswell, so no doubt I will need to practice.

I think there are seperate vacancies for ACA trainees, maybe they could shift the application over.

Im finishing up an ICAS accredited degree, so I think CA would probably be best for me, but as you said theres probably not much difference.

Seems a good company to work for, as the assessment day doesnt seem that hard :stuck_out_tongue:


Congrats on your offer rauters!

Similar thing happened to me when I applied recently for a CA sept 2010 start. Passed the application stage and the online tests only to be told (after a long time and few emails) that the position had already been filled.

I got my application transferred to the ACA January position only to be rejected over not meeting the academic requirements!?

I’ve sent an email regarding this because the academic criteria is the same for all their positions and I met it before and even passed the online tests lol!


They just announced the salary - £18000 for 2010! which isnt great, compared to the top four who are offering 20500, but its a job!


Remember that it is for the Nottingham Office, which definately will be substantially less than compared with London.

Think once you approach becoming chartered your wages will probably be much higher! You can always move into an even bigger company / position too!


Hi Guys,

I feel that I should also contribute to this thread because wikijob has also proved to be a great resource for me over the past few months. I applied for the CA Audit programme in Leeds for the Sept 2010 intake in November. The day after submitting my application I was invited to complete the online tests. Similarly, the day after completing the tests I was told that I had been successful and would be invited to a first stage interview, however the date of the interview was still to be confirmed. After not hearing anything for a couple of weeks I contacted Mairead (she seems to be responsible for most of the PKF recruitment as you guys have all had contact with her) to try to find out a rough date for the interview. I was then informed that my interview was unlikely to be until January which I was slightly disappointed about as it was still a couple of months away, but now I realise that they were probably still filling places for the January intake before Xmas.

So sure enough I had my first interview in January, which I passed. I won’t go into detail about that because theres loads of perfectly accurate info on the first interview on other threads and it really is more like a chat than an interview. Just know why you want to be an accountant, why PKF, that the exams will be hard, and that you will be studying for the CA (although as I will explain, that is a strange situation now). I had my first interview on a Thursday and I think I was informed that I had been successful on the Monday and was invited for a final interview in Mid Feb.

So the Case Study. As rauters has said, its based on a fictional health club/ gym and you are informed a week before the interview that the case study will be based on the leisure industry and advised to do some prior research. I did quite a lot of research and to be honest this almost acted as a hinderance because I was trying to mention too many things that wern’t all that relevant. My advice would literally be to have a background knowledge of how the industry is doing at the moment and possibly some of the strategies used by gyms at the moment to atract customers, and that is enough… there really is all the info you need in the case study.

I would have to disagree with rauters about the ease of the case study. 75 minutes sounds like a long time but the time flew by for me and I would have been far happier with at least 90 minutes… obviously that is part of the test though. Firstly you have to give 4 handwritten recommendations to the company, then prepare for an interview regarding the strengths, weaknesses, strategies for the future of the company etc. In hindsight, I felt I spent too long with the written part of the assessment. As you will see, there are literally 10 recommendations that you could give, so I would say just get four written down (obviously in good english) as quickly as possible and then prepare for the interview.

I found that the difficultly with the case study interview is not with identifying the problems with the company but the questions that follow. The text exagerrates the problems, for example it said something along the lines of “the managing director has little or no interest in the financial side of the company, and instead leaves this solely to the financial department, the head of which is a close friend of the md and can therefore be trusted”. Obvious problems with this, but expect them to ask you what exact problems can arise from a situation like this? How would you sort out the situation etc? Basically be prepared to justify your answers and if your interview was anything like mine, be prepared for a real grilling. I was offered the job, so a grilling isn’t necesarilly a bad thing, they just want to make sure that you know what you are talking about.

After the case study we simply chatted about details from my application form, work experience, uni, travel, hobbies etc. They left it very open for you to sell yourself to them, and if I’m honest I feel that this could well have been the turning point in the process that got me the job. No real competency questions or commercial awareness questions. This lasted for about half an hour, at which point I was taken to another room to be retested on the numerical and verbal reasoning papers. These may well have been the exact same ones from the initial application stage, certainly very similar.

I was telephoned the next morning and offered a job, however they asked if I would be prepared to start in January 2011 rather than September 2010. Also I would be studying for the ACA qualification rather than the CA. Both of these factors are ideal for me as I now plan to go travelling for a few months before starting and the ACA just seems a more logical qualification to study for in England. Don’t get me wrong though, I would have been very happy to study for the CA qualification, they are both equally respected.

Since receiving my offer I have found out that PKF, certainly in England will be putting trainees through the ACA qualification from 2011 onwards. If you have a look at the job board now, you will see this is the case. Gradtrainee, if you want to work in Leeds and study for the ACA why not ask to shift your application to the January intake. As you will see from the job board, there are still vacancies. If you do get the interview at Sheffield for 2010, you will be asked specifically in your first interview “Why you want to study for the CA?” and “What is the difference between CA and ACA?” so I would recommend going to the interview being prepared to study for it.

Hope this helps, just ask if you want any more info.


Thanks JMS for a very detailed post! I think its given me a bit more confidence now. I sent you a PM asking you more about the interviews and case study. I hope you don’t mind answering my queries. I am surpised that the whole application process has been so relaxed.



Thanks for the info guys.

It is really appreciated and useful for applicants.



hey guys i have my final interview nxt week and im very nervous as this is my first grad interview lol…i was wondering what kind of things r expected from the case study interview and what kind of questions were thrown at u

also are the recommendations for the ficitional company easy to find and note down or quite difficult…

with the general interview also…was it pretty much the same as the first one, going over app??how many ppl interviewed u guys

any help wud be great


@JMS, I am starting with PKF in January 2011 also, however they have given no indication of the salary as they said it would not be confirmed until November, this isn’t an issue as such but makes it hard to look where to rent as I am relocating and fairy soon. If you have any idea how much it will be even a ball park figure could you possibly let me know… Thanks and Good luck :slight_smile:


They havn’t given me a definite figure either mate but said it would be around 18,000. Where are you based? Well done on getting the job!


Oh at least thats a ball park figure, which is helpful thank you:-) I am going to be based in Manchester!!! Can’t wait, but its such a long wait between being offered the job and actually starting, its mad. I got offered it at the start of June, you don’t know anything about when in January we will start and stuff do you?


No problem at all! I got offered the job in February but it worked out well as it gave me plenty of time to go travelling. They havn’t finalised the start date but said it will probably be the 17th. I only get back to the UK on the 11th so it better not be the 10th, haha! I’m based in Leeds so I guess we’ll be on the same induction things!


I submitted my application for PKF a while back and got an email saying they would be in touch within 20 working days. By my calculations those 20 days have passed. Is this a bad sign? or should I just get in touch with them?


What do PKF ask from school leavers on the 2 nd interview?


Anyone had a recent assessment day and what was involved. Any help you be great.