Grant Thornton Application and Interview Process
The application process at Grant Thornton consists of the following:
- Online application
- Online reasoning tests
- First Interview
- Assessment Centre
As GT is a smaller firm than those in the Big Four accounting firms, this means that they are not able to accept as many applicants. Grant Thornton hires 360 students in the UK each year across all graduate roles, internships, and placements, and they are looking for the following qualities in their employees:
- business insight
- critical thinking
- grows the business
- builds business relationships
- develops, inspires and influences
You will be required to provide the following information in your online application:
- Personal details – name, address, etc.
- Education – from secondary onwards, with obtained or predicated grades .
- Qualifications – GCSEs, A-levels, undergraduate degrees and any other qualifications you may hold, along with subjects, results and dates provided for all.
- Work Experience – including names of employers, dates and descriptions of employment, and knowledge gained.
- Free-text questions – There will be four short-answer questions, each should be about 250 words. These will ask you to talk about your motivation for applying to Grant Thornton and your specific division, examples of positions of responsibility that you have held, projects you have worked on or client service that you have provided, and any extra-curriculars you have been involved in.
TIP: Keep your answers clear and relevant, and try to demonstrate the qualities listed above in your answers.
- Additional Information – Anything else you may want to add to provide support to your application. It is not necessary to fill out this section.
- Preferred locations – You may select a first and second choice out of 20 UK locations.
- CV upload – optional.
Note: Each applicant may only apply to one division, and therefore may only submit one application.
After completing your application you will also be asked to complete to online psychometric tests: one numerical reasoning test and one verbal reasoning test. These tests are provided by Kenexa, and there is significant time pressure.
The numerical test consists of 20 multiple choice questions which must be answered in 20 minutes, and many people have found it to be significantly harder than the practice tests suggested by GT.
The verbal test is also 20 minutes long, and the content is business-oriented.
There is no fixed pass mark for these tests, however 65% of people are typically let through. Many applicants report not completing the numerical test, and passing to the next stage nonetheless. Focus on getting the correct answer rather than on rushing through all the questions.
The first interview will in most cases be a conducted as a telephone interview, and will be with an HR representative. This will last anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes, and will focus mainly on your background and motivation for applying to GT. There will also be at least two competency based questions.
You will almost certainly be asked the following questions:
- Why Grant Thornton? What differentiates it from others?
- Why Accounting?
- Why this division?
- Why this location?
- How is the current economic climate affecting GT?
- How might it affect specific divisions, and you as a trainee?
- Tell me about your work experience
- Why do our clients keep coming back to us?
- Do you have any questions for me?
TIP: To give a satisfactory answer to these questions, you will need to do serious research into the company and the services that it provides. You may also be asked what you know about the ACA or other relevant qualification, particularly if you do not come from a business or finance background, so be sure you have looked into this as well; employers want to see that you know what you are getting into.
Examples of competency based questions that might be asked:
- Tell me about a time when you solved a difficult problem.
- Tell me about a time when you turned a negative into a positive.
- Tell me about a time when you used initiative to improve a way of doing things.
- Tell me about a time when you demonstrated a flare for business.
- Tell me about a time when you led a team.
The interviewers are generally very friendly, and the atmosphere very relaxed, so just be calm and answer truthfully.
Note: Once you pass the telephone interview, you are entered into a pool of candidates waiting to attend the next available Assessment Centre. Unfortunately, due to the high number of applicants, not all candidates who pass the first interview will necessarily be invited to the Assessment Centre. If all AC slots are filled, pooled candidates may have the option of interviewing for their second choice of location, however in some cases all positions will have been filled and candidates may not progress to the Assessment Centre. It is advised to apply early to avoid disappointment.
The AC is the final stage of assessment, and lasts 3 or 4 hours. It is not unusual for only two or three people to be in attendance. The Assessment Centre at Grant Thornton consists of the following activities:
If your AC takes place in the afternoon, you Assessment Day will begin with lunch, with new recruits in attendance. Though this portion of the day is not technically assessed, it is advised to use this time to get to know your potential colleagues and ask questions.
You will be given a package of materials which explain your case study, and include a number of graphs, charts, articles, diagrams, and so forth. You will have 40 minutes to read these over and prepare for your discussion with a Partner from the firm. You will be given three questions with your materials that you will need to answer in your Partner Interview.
The individual case study will vary, but will be about a company that GT works with or is hoping to work with. This company will have a goal or a problem that it is looking to reach/solve. The three questions you will need to answer are:
- 1 – Identify 3 key challenges that this business faces
- 2 – Come up with some possible solutions to this problem/approaches to this goal, and how GT could accomplish these.
- 3 – In what other service lines or areas can GT help this client, and establish a long-term relationship?
You should not directly use any outside information to complete this task, however your answers should demonstrate strong commercial awareness and knowledge of Grant Thornton products, services, and values.
TIP: Read through the material quickly and leave most of your time for preparing your answers, but do make sure you have understood all the supporting charts and other visual materials.
After you have presented your answers to the Partner, he or she may choose to ask you some additional questions based on your responses.
After a short break, you will have a 30-minute competency based interview with a Manager from the department to which you have applied.
You may be asked some of the same questions that you answered in your telephone interview; it is perfectly acceptable to repeat your answers. In addition to the questions listed above, you may be asked:
- How do you manage your time?
- Tell me about a challenging goal you have set for yourself.
- Tell me about a time when you went the extra mile for a customer.
- Tell me about a time when you made a real difference to a situation.
- How do you react when a deadline is pushed forward? Can you give an example?
There may also be a few commercial awareness questions posed in this interview. You will likely be asked to talk about a current topic in the industry, so prepare to speak at length about one or two particular issues, such as the Euro-zone crisis or Audit reforms. You should be able to articulate your own opinion on these topics, and understand how they affect GT.
Your final activity will be a group exercise, so it is a good idea to get to know your fellow candidates during that day so that you will be more comfortable during this task. You will have 30 minutes to discuss the scenario that you are given, and then 5 minutes to present your decision as a group.
Be sure to contribute your fair share of valuable ideas to the discussion, but do not speak over others or dismiss their ideas. You are being evaluated on your ability to work with others just as much as your solutions.