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Although competency based interviews are standardised, a typical interviewer will decide within minutes whether they like you or not, and this is likely to affect the outcome of the interview. It is very important to give a good impression to your interviewer from the very first moment you meet.
Shake hands confidently, smile, introduce yourself, and be generally convivial to the occasion. Sitting quietly and communicating poorly will not help you, and neither will boisterous or arrogant behaviour. You should be polite but outgoing, assertive but not aggressive and aim to be every bit as professional as the interviewer who is assessing you.
The graduate application process consists of 4 parts: • Online Application Form + Personality and Preference Inventory (PAPI)(psychometric test)
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Online Reasoning Tests First Interview Assessment Day
You should have at least a 2.1 degree from any University and 320 points at A-Level (the equivalent of ABB) and grade B in GCSE English and Maths - or equivalent. Extenuating circumstances are accommodated for, but you should specify this on your application form.
KPMG's key competencies are the qualities it expects all members of staff to have. You should aim to demonstrate these competencies at each stage of the interview process. The competencies are:
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Business Focus Building Relationships Leadership Problem Solving Drive and Resilience Career Motivation Making an Impact Task Management
KPMG Application Form Questions
What attracts you to the position you have applied for?
You should make your career motivation clear and demonstratecommitment to career. If the position you are applying for includes training, mention that here. Aspects like helping clients and excelling at what you do are valid points.
Why do you want to work for KPMG?
This may seem like a tough question as firms such as PwC, Deloitte and Ernst & Young offer similar experiences, however the following points should help provide some inspiration.
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Quality of training offered by KPMG Great team working attitude of KPMG Support of colleagues The great work KPMG does in the community (make sure you are aware of this because you will be asked this at interview if you mention it) Possibilities for career advancement in KPMG Reputation of KPMG
You will also be asked 'why KPMG' at interview, however it will likely be phrased, "What separates KPMG from other firms and why do you want work for KPMG instead of the others?"
What do you think you will be doing in your first year at KPMG?
You absolutely need to know the answer to this. You will be asked it at interview as well. If you answer this question wrong, you will be showing that you do not know what you are getting yourself into and haven't done your research. In this case, you absolutely will not get the job.
You can telephone KPMG and tell them that you are considering applying and you would like to know what sort of things you will be doing in your first year. They would be more than happy to tell you, and may even offer you the chance to come in and ask them questions before you even apply.
If you have signed up to doing any training, such as the ICAEW ACA, you will spend a lot of time doing this. Make sure you have looked at the WikiJob pages for audit and tax, which will help you answer these questions for these service lines.
Personality and Preference Inventory (PAPI)
This is a questionnaire which asks you to rate how much you agree with particular statements about yourself. For example, a potential statement might be: "I prefer to tackle tasks sequentially rather than juggle many tasks at once." It is worth considering the key competencies discussed above as well as your own opinions with respect to answering the questions. Notice how this statement relates to the competency "Task Management".
The purpose of this test is to generate questions for the interviewer based on your PAPI answers and you will not be selected or screened on this.
Online Reasoning Test
You will be asked to take the online reasoning test. This is a Cubiks test, which is industry standard.
There are 40 verbal questions and 24 numerical questions. The KPMG tests are more difficult than most other firms however they have a lower pass mark (around the 30th percentile). So the key is accuracy, but don't expect to finish all the questions.
The first interview will last approximately one hour and will be by a manager from your line of service (or occasionally someone from HR), and is a competency based interview. You will be asked a number of questions, which will profile your experience against the key competencies described above. Ideally, you should also aim to display the following attributes:
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Commitment to teamwork Ability and desire to lead and inspire Respectability and responsibility - are you how the company would like to be perceived by clients Ethical and truthful - are you trustworthy and can you demonstrate your integrity
Furthermore, they will be looking to see if you display a commitment to career (you should be able to answer questions about what you will be doing in your first year and the qualification to which you are applying), and a clear understanding of what makes you want to want to work for KPMG instead of other accounting firms.
Questions that you are likely to be asked during this interview:
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Describe a time when you worked in a team? (testing teamwork) If a member disagrees with you, how did you handle that? What was the outcome? (testing leadership) If your tasks have become a daily routine, how would you keep yourself motivated? (testing resilience) Describe a current issue in the business world? Give an example of a company that you believe has the potential to grow and why? Give an example of a company that has grown a lot in the last couple of years and what would you advise them to do next? What problems do you think professional services firms are facing today?
You will be expected to give examples of situations you have been in which back up these competencies. You should receive an email ahead of the interview giving a specific list of the competencies that your individual interview will focus mainly on (based on your application and PAPI questionnaire answers). Take a good look at the example questions listed under these competencies on the website, as some of the questions in your interview may be very similar to these.
The E-tray exercise is a computer based simulation consisting of two parts: • Computer exercise (70 minutes). No specific computer or software knowledge is required.
Written exercise (50 minutes).
The computer software is simple to use, and you will be shown how to use it before the exercise commences. No familiarity with any software is required.
You will be presented with a booklet that contains a business scenario. In the scenario, you will be moving to a new office to cover for another member of staff, and today is the day prior to the move. Clients and colleagues from the new office have already begun sending you emails, and are requesting your response.
You will be required to answer emails as they appear in your inbox. Each one will require you to do one of:
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Extract information from the booklet Perform simple calculations Decide how to deal with unhappy clients, over-demanding managers and similar situations.
All responses are selected from a multiple choice list. As time progresses emails will arrive faster, and the last few will appear in quick succession. There are 24 emails in all.
Describe two situations where you have had to work as part of a team." When asked a question like this, you should be able to talk for several minutes about your participation to a particularly strong team you have been part of in the past and how your sense of teamwork helped lead a task or project to successful completion. You should have an idea before the interview of the experiences from your life that you could use as examples to demonstrate the key competencies of the firm to which you are applying. You are likely to have to provide at least two examples for each competency during your interview.
It is quite acceptable to ask for and to use a few moments of thinking time before answering competency questions. If necessary, simply notify your interviewer by explaining you "may need to think about this for a few moments". Once you have thought of a good example to use, continue with your answer.
Most questions are competency based interviews and lasts about 45 minutes, then 15 minutes for my questions and further discussion. The interviewers will press you to expand your answers so make sure you save some information in reserve. The questions posted above are pretty
comprehensive so I would draft some notes to answer each one. The core competencies they ask you to demonstrate on the recruitment website are flexibility, curiosity, teamworking, courage + integrity, commercial awareness and communication skills. Therefore try to think of how you can demonstrate each one through any of your life experiences, including education and employment. I had a very good recruiter who gave me a lot of information before the interviews and AC, she would ask me to demonstrate times when I shown passion for a particular client, how I had built and sustained professional relationships in the past, times when my leadership had been challenged and what I had done to overcome that. Make sure you also research on the company you mentioned on the application, if that question is still there, as the questions will probe into your application answers!
Motivation & Commitment to Career Questions
What distinguishes this company, for you, from its competitors.
This question requires you to discuss your knowledge of the firm in detail and prove to your interviewer your desire for a job.
To answer this question you should describe:
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The key strengths this firm has over its competitors in the industry (e.g. more specialised in certain niche areas, more international scope, more respected). What appeals to you personally about the firm (e.g. your interests in the firm's niche areas, your relevant study at university). Other relevant factors you find interesting (e.g. the impression you have of the working style at the firm, the social side of the company, the type of charitable work the firm is involved in).
Questions on commercial awareness will be based on current news items e.g. name an example of a current news story which interests you. PwC are really keen on green issues/accounting lately. From my experience it would not be based on anything that you haven't mentioned during the interview or on your application, so don't worry too much about being a walking news encyclopedia.
Normally competence based for example;
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Give one current piece of business news that caught my interest . Give one instance where you had to work in a team. Give one instance when received feedback. Give one instance when you had to work with a person who had a different management style than yours. Do you prefer to work in team or individually. Give one instance when you had to change your management style.
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Have you recently set any goal for yourself, Give one instance when you were part of a change and how did you bring it across. What are the services that PwC provides What is specific to Assurance. How does PwC creates value for its clients.
make sure you know a lot about what you'll be doing in the job and how you could go about it. For the group exercise it's all about how you interact rather than the conclusions you make. Make sure you're persuasive but listen, and build on other's ideas as well as providing your own. Something that hasn't really been mentioned is that they ask you to evaluate your performance after the group exercise. Be honest and give your strongest and weakest areas. The written exercise isn't too bad, just present a clear and structured argument
You cant really prepare for the written report, just ensure you write the report in a clear structured way with good english more than anything. So, give yourself time to read over before the time is up & don't go into to much detail! 30 mins isn't much time to read a few pages & then write 1/2 sides of a4 so manage your time well too!
Some other useful websites: http://www.accountancyage.com/ http://www.accountingweb.co.uk/ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/default.stm http://news.sky.com/skynews/Business http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/ http://www.guardian.co.uk/business http://www.icaew.com/
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