BDO - From Application Form To Offer
Okay guys, seen as I've been through the whole BDO application process and been offered a job I thought you might appreciate a bit of information on the whole process!
[B]Application Form[/B] - Pretty standard form, much the same as many other accountancy firms; three 250 word extended answer questions. Just make sure you put some serious thought into your answers - I ended up re-drafting mine about 3 times each. It is worth putting the extra effort in at this stage.
[B]Online Tests[/B] - BDO got back to me two working days after I'd submitted the form (as it says they will on their website) to ask me to do the online tests. As with many other firms they are shl tests. The verbal test is pretty straightforward, no real problems. It is no harder than the verbal practice test on the shl website; although be warned, all the passages are business related. There are 30 questions which you have 15 minutes to answer. I finished with about 2 minutes to spare. You really should be looking to answer all the questions, there not hard.
The numerical test isn't too bad either; there are 21 questions and you get 21 minutes. I answered 20. Some are really straightforward and others you have to think a bit more for. The one piece of advice I would give though is brush up on your currency conversion questions - I had 6 currency conversion questions!! The tests aren't negatively marked so if you're running out of time it's probably worth just guessing the ones you haven't done.
You'll find out as soon as you've finished both tests whether you've passed; it comes up on the screen.
[B]First Round Interview[/B] - I was contacted the next day, after passing the online tests, to invite me to a first round interview. There was one other person there at the same time as me to be interviewed. First of all you'll be taken away by a member of HR and listen to a 20 minute(ish) presentation about the company, how great they are etc. Following that you'll go and have your one-on-one interview with a manager in your specified service line (for me that was Tax). The interview was really informal; she began by running over my application form, asking some basic questions about why I chose my A-Levels as I did, why I chose the university I did etc.
Then she moved on to ask me 3 competency questions. This may vary but mine were: (1) Tell me about a time you delegated responsibility; (2) Tell me about a time you worked as part of a team and what you contributed; (3) Tell me about a time you worked under pressure, how did you cope?
After that there was the standard questions: Why BDO, Why Tax. Finally I was asked why would I want to work for BDO over a Big 4 firm. Then she asked if I had any questions, and that was it! The interview itself lasted for about 45 minutes.
[B]Assessment Centre [/B] - My first round interview finished at midday and BDO phoned me about 4pm to tell me I'd been successful at the first round and that they would like to invite me to an assessment centre. Oh, and before the assessment centre they ask you to complete an online personality questionnaire - it's no biggy and counts for virtually nothing, so don't worry about it. The assessment centre itself starts at 10am and goes on until about 5pm. On the day I went there were 8 others there and we were split into two groups of 4.
The day begins with a quick ice-breaker session; basically you just have to speak to one other person in your group and find out their name, what uni they are at, what they are studying, their claim to fame and their most embarrassing moment. Then you have to stand up in front of the group and introduce the person you were speaking too! Apparently it's not assessed, but make sure you're confident - all 8 of the group exercise assessors are sat in the room when you do it! So it's best to make a good first impression.
Then as I said you get split into two groups of 4. One group does the group exercise whilst the other does the fast-track exercise. I did the fast-track first so I'll talk about that first. Basically it's a test produced by shl and involves 5 sets of cards. Each set of cards has about 20(ish) cards with information on them. Some of the cards have spaces blank and by using the information on the other cards you have to deduce what the missing information/value is. There is absolutely NOTHING you can do to prepare for it, so don't stress - just keep calm and do your best. You're given 30 minutes to do it, but don't expect to finish all of it. Everyone at my assessment day completed 4 sets out of 5 - they don't expect you to finish it. Basically, I found 2 sets really easy and was done with them in about 5 minutes each. The other two were MUCH more difficult and I'm not sure whether I go them right or not - just don't panic. The test counts for very little in the final reckoning.
Then the groups switch exercises - so I went to do the group exercise. I'm not going to say the actual company the exercise is on because that would give some an unfair advantage. Suffice to say it's a high street coffee store. There are two different proposals of how to expand/take the business forward and you have to decide on the advantages/disadvantages of each option, make a recommendation and say how BDO could help the client in doing all of this (so basically know which services BDO offers!). You get 10 minutes at the start to read through the information pack yourself, make notes etc (10 minutes is plenty to read all the info) and then you have 50 minutes to discuss it as a group. No real specific tips, just the general stuff, make sure you contribute your suggestions, support other people, don't interrupt others when they are speaking etc.
Then you get a 1hr break for lunch! A few current trainees will come down for you to talk with etc; it's fairly relaxed, just chill out and get ready for the afternoon!
Post-lunch you get 1hr to prepare a presentation on the stuff you discussed in you group exercise in the morning - you get given back your booklet of info and any notes you made in the morning. It's a one-on-one presentation with an assessor (the same one who assessed you during you group exercise). You're given a flip chart to put down your key points - USE IT! Make sure you split your time between preparing enough notes to make your presentation and writing on the flip chart. I spend 40 minutes preparing and then the final 20 writing on the flip chart.
You're given 30 minutes to do your presentation, but nobody uses all that time - aim for around 15 minutes; it's ample. You'll then probably get asked a couple of questions by the assessor about what you have presented etc. Finally you'll be asked for your assessment of how the group exercise went in the morning and what you would do differently if you were to do it again - remember be constructive - don't slag your other group members off! (although I was sorely tempted!)
Finally is the partner interview. This lasts for around 50 minutes. Now people on my day seemed to have different experiences, for quiet a few it was just a general chat. Mine, however, was a full-scale interrogation! I got asked about 8 competency questions, and why BDO etc. When I answered though he just kept pushing, like why did you do that, wouldn't it have been better to do this etc. The key thing I think is to be strong and stick to your guns, defend what you said/did and why.
The day finished about 5pm and I got a phone call about 20 minutes after I had left to offer me the job! All in all everyone I met was very friendly and helpful.
Hope that was of some use, good luck for anyone who is applying!