BDO Interview Questions & Application Process

(see also BDO Stoy Hayward - application to offer and BDO working culture)

Application Process

The application process for BDO consists of:

Online Application Form

The BDO application form consists of standard personal details and four 250 word extended answer questions, and should take approximately an hour to complete, though you may save your answers at any point. Spend time considering your answers; do not use any flowery language or filler, spell check and re-draft as necessary and make sure your answers are direct, intelligent and most important of all, actually answer the questions.

BDO cites four main qualities that they look for in their employees, and it is essential to consider these carefully and try to exemplify them throughout the selection process. They are:

  • Sharp - you are intelligent and commercially aware, able to spot solutions quickly
  • Resourceful - you make the most of all your knowledge and resources, and work on building networks
  • Attentive - you are able to listen to the needs of your clients
  • Energetic - you possess the enthusiasm and stamina that will help you go further

Ask others to check your work. It is worth putting a lot of effort into your application. Even a small mistake at this stage could result in a rejection.

Online Tests

After you have submitted your online application, you will be invited to take an online numerical reasoning test. This test will last 20 minutes and will have about 20 questions. If you pass the numerical test, you will then be invited to take the verbal reasoning test, which will also last 20 minutes. These tests areprovided by SHL.

{{Numerical Test Book}}

First Interview

The first interview will then take place. It will last approximately 45 minutes and be with a manager from the line of service to which you have applied. It will begin by informally discussing your application form and any accomplishments and interests you have mentioned.

The second part of the interview will consists of competency based questions.

The competency based questions you are likely to be asked at interview are:

  • Tell me about a time when you took a risk.
  • Tell me about a time when you delegated.
  • Tell me about a time when you compiled a report/project for someone else to look at.
  • Tell me about a time you have had to work in a team.
  • Tell me about a time you have had negative criticism.
  • Tell me about a time when you have delivered excellent client service.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to promote a society or cause.
  • Tell me about a time when a problem arose due to miscommunication.
  • Tell me about a time when you made a mistake.
  • What is your greatest achievement to date?
  • How will you go about choosing the company you want to work for?

You will also be asked:

  • Why BDO?
  • Why the service line to which you have applied?
  • What can you bring to this role?
  • What are BDO's 4 key values?

TIP: Research the firm extensively, and particularly your area/division. Being able to quote exact figures, facts or case studies will most likely impress.

TIP:Be honest. This interview is for them to get to know your personality and decide whether you'd be a good fit for the team. It is better to admit to a slight fault or lack of experience than to try to make something up that you think they want to hear. If you are able to talk honestly and confidently about your examples, you will leave a positive impression. It is acceptable to use the same examples that you used in your application form.

Assessment Centre

The BDO assessment centre lasts half a day, and will be made up of candidates from both graduate and internship programmes. There will be between six and twelve people at the assessment centre and your day will consist of:

Warm-Up Exercise

The day begins with a quick ice-breaker session; all you have to do is talk to one other person in your group and find out their name, what uni they are studying at or studied at, what they are studying/studied, 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 to. This is not assessed, but you do need to be confident and articulate. This will be the moment when you create the important first impression to everyone in the group, including your assessors.

After the introductions you will be split into two groups. One group will do the group exercise whilst the other does the in-tray exercise.

Group Exercise

The same type of case study is used regardless of area you applying for, and will be a real client situation. A company is facing a problem (budget cuts, losing clients, etc.) ; you will be given information about the company and a list of possible approaches to solving the problem. After discussing the advantages and disadvantages of all the options, you must decide on the best strategy as a team, as well as discuss how BDO could help the client in doing all of this. Make sure you find out about the services BDO offers so you can talk effectively about this.

You will get 15 minutes at the start of the group exercise to read through the information pack yourself and make notes. You then have 45 minutes to discuss things as a group. Make sure you contribute to the discussion and be prepared to back up your opinions and defend your suggestions, if others at first disagree with them. Try to be confident and try to be the candidate in charge of your group's discussion without overpowering others. Be courteous and encourage quieter candidates to have their opinions heard, as well as keeping an eye on the time and making sure the discussion is moving forward. They are more interested in how you work in a team than how you solve the problem.

In-tray Exercise

You will have one hour to complete two written tasks that assess your problem-solving ability, accountability for results, written communication, and client service. These are to be completed by hand, so pay attention to your spelling and grammar. Though the exact tasks and scenarios given may vary, at least one task is likely to involve a list of documents: emails, reports, invoices, etc. - which you will have to rank in order of priority and recommend actions for. The other will be more of a case study, which will test how you respond to realistic problems and tasks that you would face on the job, for example: coming back from vacation and learning that one of your client's parents has died, moving forward with a project after one of its member goes on maternity leave, dealing with an unhappy client, etc. In most cases this exercise will be in the form of an email, either to a client or a manager.

TIP: Be aware of the time, and do not go into unnecessary detail or use elaborate language. Use clarity, concision, and tact.


Following the group exercise and in-tray exercise you will be given an hour for lunch. You will be given the opportunity to meet with and talk to several current trainees. Be sure to ask them any questions you may have. They will not be assessing you and will be able to provide a much more realistic account of working life at BDO than your assessors and HR. Be sure to ask them about what they do on a day-to-day basis. You will be able to use this information during your face-to-face interviews later on in the afternoon.

Individual Presentation

When you are invited to the assessment centre, you will also receive information about the presentation and your given topic. After lunch you will be asked to give the 20-minute presentation one-on-one to an assessor from the morning group exercise. You will then be asked some general questions about your presentation by the assessor (so be prepared to back up any of your points) then finally 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 criticise anyone directly.

Partner Interview

The partner interview lasts for around 50 minutes. The style of your interview will depend on your specific interviewer, and can vary from relaxed and laid back, to high pressured and interrogational.

You will be asked about eight competency questions, and questions about why you want to work for BDO and why you want to be an accountant.

Your interviewer may ask you to justify yourself and your life choices. If this happens, stay calm and remain confident. Be prepared to defend yourself and your opinions, even if it your interviewer appears dismissive. It may be that you are being tested on your strength of character, determination and ability to argue your opinions convincingly.

Once again, come prepared with examples of achievements, teamwork, and challenges from a wide range of experience, and think about how you can highlight their key qualities: sharp, resourceful, attentive, and energetic.

Towards the end of the interview you will be given the chance to ask your own questions about BDO. You should aim to ask two to three interesting questions, if possible relating to subject matter discussed during your interview.

Now see - BDO Working Culture.