As one of the world’s largest and most reputable and successful professional services firms, getting through the KPMG application process as a graduate is an unsurprisingly scrupulous and demanding process.
That said, knowing what to expect and how to prepare for what’s ahead can make the process much less daunting, as well as significantly increasing your chances of success.
Read on, to find out more.
Stage One: Online Aptitude Tests
The first stage of the application process is conducted online with candidates required two separate assessments: a numerical and a verbal reasoning test.
As the name suggests, the numerical reasoning test assesses your numerical skills and mental arithmetic.
It comprises 24 questions which require you to interpret information from six different sets of data and select the correct answer from a number of options.
The test is typically 20 minutes in length.
The verbal reasoning test aims to evaluate your comprehension and analytical skills.
The test typically comprises 10 different passages of information with four questions on each. A multiple choice structure is used with the candidate asked to choose between ‘true’, ‘false’ or ‘cannot determine’.
Typical question: (based on data presented) If Mr Smith reduces the budget for the four activities by 35%, what will be the total amount left in his annual budget? A: £1,500; B: £1,250; C: £1,750; D: £2,000…
Tips for Success:
1. Make sure you fully understand all the data/information. Watch our for small details that can easily be overlooked and glossed over. Read, read and re-read.
2. Keep an eye on the clock. One of your key tasks should be to find out the total number of questions in the test and allocate a set amount of time for each based on this.
3. Learn how to calculate percentages (for numerical reasoning). This is one of the most popular types of test question and yet one of the ones that causes the most headaches. Swot up on your technique and then keep practicing until you have it mastered.
4. Scan for keywords (for verbal reasoning)
5. Practise makes perfect
Of course nothing beats the experience of actually having been through the test or a near equivalent.
There are several firms offering examples of KPMG’s numerical and verbal reasoning tests; start with KPMG’s official test provider, Cubiks (www.cubiksonline.com), which offers sample tests free of charge.
Stage Two: KPMG Assessment Centre.
Assuming you pass the online section of the process, the next stage is a telephone interview, lasting approximately 45 minutes.
While each interview is different, you can expect to be asked to talk about your skills as well as answering a series of roughly 15 competency and scenario-based questions, with around three follow-up questions for each.
Typical question: “Tell me about a time when you had to convince people to come over to your way of thinking”
Tips for success:
1. Read up on KPMG’s core values and culture on the company’s site and try and make sure your answers align with these
2. Read through and practise answering the key competencies questions available on the Wikijobs site
3. Compile a ready-to use list of examples you can draw on to answer questions like the one above. Remember, these don’t necessarily have to be 100% true to life.
Stage 3: Assessment Centre (Morning)
The assessment centre is where the real challenge begins, with a success rates estimated at 40-50%.
Here you will be expected to sit a series of individual and group-based exercises throughout the course of the day.
The morning session will typically begin with a repeat of similar numerical and verbal reasoning aptitude tests completed online.
After this you’ll be asked to undertake an e–tray exercise, often also referred to as an in-tray exercise.
This is basically a simulation of a typical employee workload, testing your business acumen and your ability to manage and prioritise a series of tasks effectively within a specific time frame.
Tips for success
1. Read the supporting documents provided for the e-tray exercise. These provide all the information you need in order to understand and complete the tasks so make sure to take your time and go through them with a fine comb.
2. Timing is everything. The nature of the task means you will be under steadily increasing pressure to get things done with the temptation being to sacrifice thoroughness for speed. Make sure
3. Hone your email writing technique. The ability to compose a well structured email is one of the main skills being tested, so don’t go in blind. A strong business email should have a clear layout with a solid opening and end. Start your email by introducing your analysis/ recommendations and then finish strongly by summarising these. Remember to support your analysis/recommendation by referring back to the supporting documents.
On completing the exercise you will progress to a fictional 15-minute client meeting with a member of the recruitment team playing the client.