KPMG interview questions

If you apply for a graduate position at KPMG, the application process will consist of five parts:

  1. Online Application Form
  2. Online Situational Judgement Test
  3. Online Numerical and Verbal Reasoning Tests
  4. Digital Submission
  5. Launch Pad Recruitment Event

This article will cover each of the above, along with the academic requirements and behavioural capabilities required by KPMG.

Do your research before you begin your application. You will need to show good awareness of the business world in general, plus be able to talk confidently about yourself, KPMG and the role you’re applying for.

You'll want to look at information from:

  • KPMG’s website;
  • Relevant professional bodies;
  • The financial media (online, print and television);
  • Any contacts you may have at KPMG or similar organisations.

Academic Requirements

To apply to KPMG you should have at least a 2.1 degree in any discipline, a minimum of 120 UCAS Tariff points or equivalent, and grade B in GCSE English and Maths or equivalent.

Extenuating circumstances are considered, though you should specify why your academic achievement did not meet KPMG’s requirements on your application form.

KPMG accepts only your top three A-level grades from your first sitting, and does not accept General Studies.

While academic results are an important part of the KPMG recruitment process, the company will consider these alongside other factors, particularly the nine key behavioural capabilities outlined below.

Behavioural Capabilities

KPMG's behavioural capabilities are the qualities they expect all members of staff to possess.

These will be assessed at every stage of the application process, so you should look for any opportunity to demonstrate them.

Make sure you are familiar with each one, and prepare examples of how and when you have demonstrated each behaviour.

Think about specific recent examples – these may be from your studies or hobbies, as well as part-time jobs and volunteering roles.

The nine key capabilities are:

  1. Career Motivation. Although you may be applying to a number of organisations, KPMG wants to see that you have considered why you want to work there in particular, and that you have thought carefully about your chosen field and location.

  2. Delivers Quality. You will need to demonstrate that you can deliver exceptional results through planning, prioritising and preparation.

  3. Drives Collaboration and Inclusion. Show that you can collaborate and work well in a team, and are able to make lasting connections with clients.

  4. Strives for Continual Improvement. This is about showing self-motivation, plus demonstrating the drive and willingness to learn and improve.

  5. Exercises Professional Judgement. You will have the autonomy to make decisions at KPMG, so you must be able to demonstrate a strong ability to analyse information and act on your findings with clarity and confidence.

  6. Makes an Impact. You must demonstrate that you can communicate ideas fluently, concisely and persuasively – both in writing and in person.

  7. Seizes Business Opportunities. You will need to show a genuine interest in the commercial world and an understanding of the external marketplace.

  8. Demonstrates Innovation and Curiosity. Prove that you are a problem-solver who can embrace change and come up with creative and practical solutions.

  9. Resilience. Indicate how you overcome challenges and demonstrate that you can stay motivated even under pressure.

More information about these behavioural capabilities can be found on KPMG's recruitment website.

Alternatively, you can take a practice course to prepare for difficult competency-based questions in your upcoming job interviews at KPMG.

Online Application Form

The first step of the process, KPMG’s online application form is a chance to set out your academic background and any work experience you may have.

The form should take about 20 minutes to complete and is broken down into the following sections. There is no need to upload a CV with your application.

  • Personal details – This section should be straightforward and self-explanatory.

  • Application details – Here you will be asked to select your chosen scheme or internship. Make sure you have researched this thoroughly before beginning the application.

  • Contacts – This section asks you to provide details of any contacts you may have at KPMG. You do not have to fill this section out.

  • School/college education – Give the name of the institution(s) you attended, and details of academic qualifications gained there.

  • Higher education – As above.

  • Accountancy qualifications – Most new graduate applicants will not yet have any accountancy qualifications, so don’t worry if you have nothing to put here. 

  • Employment history – Provide details of previous employers and the dates you worked for them. There will not be space to expand much on your roles and responsibilities here.

  • Language skills – Another non-mandatory field asking you to list any language skills you have.

  • Equal opportunities – Again, this is optional and should be fstraightforward.

Situational Judgement Test

Within one working day of submitting your application form, you will receive an email link to the KPMG situational judgement test (SJT).

This is a behavioural test in which you will be asked to consider hypothetical, work-based situations that you might encounter as a trainee at KPMG.

There will be about 20 different challenging scenarios, and you will be given a choice of four possible responses for each. You must select the most or least appropriate response, depending on the situation.

The test is not timed but the recommended time to complete it is 30 minutes. You will need to do it in one sitting, and within seven days of receiving the link, so make sure you have time to sit it before you begin the application process.

No particular knowledge or training is required to sit a situational judgement test, but it is worth taking a few practice tests to get used to the types of question you will encounter.

KPMG’s test provider is Cubiks, which offers some practice tests on its own website.

Alternatively, have a look on WikiJob for further information about situational judgement tests and try a practice version.

When sitting the situational judgement test, you should not try to guess what KPMG wants to know, but answer truthfully based on your own values and knowledge.

Having said that, it is well worth reviewing KPMG’s core behavioural capabilities before beginning the test – bearing in mind how these might relate to your answers throughout.

Online Numerical and Verbal Reasoning Tests

Once you have successfully completed the SJT, you will be asked to take online numerical and verbal reasoning tests.

As with the SJT, you will have seven days to complete these tests. Each one will take around 20 minutes and is timed.

Each test must be taken in the same sitting, so make sure you have enough time before you begin. If you require any adjustments or have any special requirements, let KPMG know through its contact page.

The reasoning tests are designed especially for KPMG by Cubiks, and look at your ability to analyse numerical and verbal data.

Even if you have taken similar reasoning tests before, it is strongly recommended that you practise as much as possible before sitting the KPMG tests.

Practice tests are available on Cubiks’ website, or you could try some of WikiJob’s free numerical and verbal reasoning practice tests.

You may also want to read our hints and tips about aptitude tests and test providers. And if those were useful, try our psychometric tests app, which includes 10 numerical tests and 8 verbal tests. The tests include a timer and worked solutions at the end.

Before you begin the tests, make sure you are relaxed and prepared. Find somewhere to take the test that is comfortable and free from distractions.

Remember that the tests are designed to put you under time pressure, so don’t expect to finish them.

And, however much you have practised, be aware that the tests may seem harder when you are taking them for real.

KPMG applicaton process

Digital Submission

If you are successful in the reasoning tests, you will be invited to complete a digital submission in audio format.

This involves recording your responses to questions sent by KPMG. You have a maximum of 120 seconds and can make the recording on your phone or computer – it does not have to be produced on professional audio equipment.

The audio submission is an opportunity to demonstrate your motivation for pursuing a career with KPMG, as well as showcasing your communication skills.

The particular behavioural capabilities being assessed at this stage of the process are ‘Career Motivation’, ‘Seizes Business Opportunities’ and ‘Makes an Impact’.

Questions to be answered in your audio submission might include:

  • “Tell us what interests you about the business area you have applied to.”
  • “Tell us what attracts you to KPMG.”
  • “How do you think technology will impact KPMG’s business in the next few years?”

To help prepare your answers, consider what is required within each behavioural capability and how you can demonstrate it in your responses.

Here are some things to think about:

Career Motivation:

  • Why would you enjoy working at KPMG?
  • Do you have an understanding of the work that would be involved in the role?
  • Have you reviewed KPMG’s careers website thoroughly?
  • Have you researched the programme you are applying for thoroughly, along with the qualifications you would be studying for while working?

Seizes Business Opportunities:

  • Can you demonstrate a knack for spotting business opportunities?
  • Do you have strong networking skills?
  • Do you keep up-to-date with business news?
  • Can you demonstrate a drive and commitment to going the extra mile for clients?

KPMG has developed an interactive quiz, Future Ready: Business Ready, to help practise and develop commercial awareness, which may help you prepare for demonstrating this capability.

Makes an Impact:

  • Can you communicate your ideas confidently and persuasively, both verbally and in writing?
  • Can you convey ideas concisely, providing a clear, precise message for your audience?

You will have three days to submit your recording so take some time to plan and prepare what you want to say, and practise delivering your answers out loud.

As time is limited, make sure your answers are concise and that you speak clearly and confidently. Your answers should demonstrate your enthusiasm and motivation for working at KPMG, while proving that you have outstanding communication skills.

Launch Pad Recruitment Event

If your digital submission is successful, you will be invited to a Launch Pad event – the final stage of the recruitment process.

Launch Pad is a full-day event that is likely to begin at around 8:30 a.m. and finish at about 5:00 p.m. There may be a few hundred attendees so it can seem overwhelming, but remember that they will all be applying for different roles, so you won't be in direct competition with many of them.

As well as being assessed, the day allows you to find out more about working at KPMG and how your career could progress within the company.

There will be opportunities throughout the day to meet KPMG personnel within the area you have applied to, from graduate trainees to partners.

The day will begin with a welcome presentation and overview of working life at KPMG. This will be followed by a group exercise, analysis exercise and a partner interview, as well as networking sessions.

Throughout the day, remember to keep the key KPMG behavioural capabilities in mind, and find ways to demonstrate how you meet each one whenever you can.

Group Exercise

You will be divided into small groups of around five candidates and given a brief with a number of different tasks.

There is likely to be a focus on technology in the group exercise – for instance, your group may be asked to create an app for use by KPMG. One task may involve coming up with ideas for an app, another may be about branding it, a third about implementing it, and so on.

During the group exercise, you will need to discuss ideas with the other candidates, identify issues and come up with solutions. It is important to try to balance leadership with teamwork skills while you are working with others.

This includes listening and enabling others to speak, not dominating the conversation, being cooperative and mediating where necessary.

At the same time, do not be afraid to take control of the conversation where you think it is helpful and appropriate, put forward your own opinions and summarise your progress at regular intervals.

Analysis Exercise

You will be given about 20 minutes to read a brief, and then an hour to write a report based on the information provided.

The brief will relate to a fictitious client and you will be required to sift through the information given to determine strengths and weaknesses, where their current problems lie and what actions could be taken to help them operate more profitably and efficiently.

Your report should include specific issues and set out detailed recommendations. The following tips will help you do your best in this task:

  • Familiarise yourself with similar reports. Before attending the Launch Pad event, find some examples of reports of this type online. Become familiar with the style, structure and language used.

  • Keep things simple. Assessors want to see that you are able to digest complex and dense information, and communicate messages effectively. Your report should show structure and clarity and cover all the key points. Stick to the suggested word limit (around 1,500 words) and use subheadings and bullet points where possible to break the report in manageable chunks.

  • Remember who your reader is. It's likely you will be producing a report for a KPMG manager, so tailor your language and style accordingly. Keep it formal and factual, and stick to KPMG’s tone and values.

  • Remember KPMG’s key behavioural capabilities. Assessors will be searching for evidence of these when reading your report, so be sure to demonstrate that you possess them while writing up your findings.

  • Show off your analytical skills. Remember to leave time at the end to make recommendations, and don’t be afraid to display your creative skills too.

Partner Interview

At some stage during the day you will have a one-to-one interview with a senior member of the KPMG team.

This will last around 20 minutes and may take place in a room where other interviews are also being conducted. As such, the atmosphere may be loud and fast-paced.

It is likely your interview will cover some or all of the following areas:

  • “How do you feel the Launch Pad event is going so far?”
  • “Why did you choose to apply for KPMG or the particular programme?”
  • “What do you think you will be doing during your first couple of years at KPMG?”
  • “What do you think a typical working day at KPMG might be like?”
  • “Tell me about a time you were in a stressful situation. How did you handle it?”
  • “How do you manage your time?”
  • “How do you ensure that you deliver quality?”
  • “Have you learned anything new about yourself today?”

You can find plenty of advice for preparing for interviews on WikiJob. The key things to remember here are to keep your answers concise and to the point, be honest and, as always, refer back to the behavioural competencies wherever possible when composing your answers.

Networking Sessions

There will be opportunities throughout the day to talk to a variety of KPMG staff as well as other candidates. This is a chance to show off some of your softer skills, as well as to find out more about your chosen programme and KPMG in general.

Remember that even during these more informal sessions, you are still being assessed. Be yourself but don’t forget that you are in a professional setting.

And if networking makes you nervous, you might consider coming prepared with a few questions or conversation starters.

Above all, try to enjoy the day and make the most of it. Although aspects of it will be intense, some of it should also be fun.

Even if you are not ultimately offered a place, it will still have been a valuable experience – and an opportunity to meet professionals at all stages of their career in your chosen field.

Being Made an Offer

All candidates should find out if they have received an offer or been unsuccessful within two working days of the Launch Pad event.

If you are unsuccessful at any stage, KPMG will provide you with detailed feedback about your application and why you were not accepted. You may re-apply when vacancies reopen for the following year’s graduate intake.

Other Useful Resources

These may also be of interest:

KPMG Discussions on WikiJob’s Forums

Why KPMG is Changing its Recruitment Process

The Big 4 Accounting Firms: An Overview

A Guide to Big 4 Partner Interviews

KPMG Application Advice (from KPMG's website)

KPMG Information Events (from KPMG's website)