KPMG interview questions

KPMG Graduate Application and Interview Process

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

  1. Online Application Form and Situational Judgement Test (psychometric test)
  2. Online Reasoning Tests
  3. First Interview
  4. Assessment Day
  5. Final Interview/Presentation

Academic Requirements

To apply to KPMG you should have at least a 2.1 degree from any University, 320 points at A-Level (the equivalent of ABB) and grade B in GCSE English and Maths. Extenuating circumstances are considered, but you should specify why your academic achievement didn’t meet KMPG’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.

JobTestPrep offers a practice and preparation course designed around KPMG's assessment centre. Click here to find out more.

Key Competencies

KPMG's key competencies are the qualities it expects all members of staff to have. You should aim to demonstrate these competencies at each stage of the interview process.

The competencies are:

  1. Business Focus
  2. Delivers Quality
  3. Drives Collaboration and Inclusion
  4. Career Motivation
  5. Strives for Continual Improvement
  6. Exercises Professional Judgement
  7. Makes an Impact
  8. Seizes Business Opportunities
  9. Demonstrates Innovation and Curiosity
  10. Resilience

More information about these 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

KPMG’s online application form requires you to fill in personal details and written sections which demonstrate your competencies. You have room to write 100 words per question and should use all the room given to answer, making sure you demonstrate the key competencies throughout.

Questions that appear on the application form include:

  • What attracts you to the position you have applied for ?
  • Why do you want to work for KPMG?
  • What research have you conducted about KPMG?
  • What do you think you will be doing in your first year at KPMG?

KPMG Psychometric Test

KPMG give a psychometric test to all candidates. You can take a practice version of the test here, or find out more by reading our hints and tips about aptitude tests and test providers.

If those were useful, you may also like to try our psychometric tests app, available for both Apple and Android, which includes 10 numerical tests and 8 verbal tests. The tests include a timer and worked solutions at the end.

KPMG Application Form Questions

What attracts you to the position you have applied for?

You should make your motivation for applying clear and demonstrate your commitment and enthusiasm for the role. For example, if the position you are applying for includes training and that’s something you’re keen on, mention that here. Other aspects like helping clients, developing as part of a team and excelling at what you do are also valid points that will be well received.

Why do you want to work for KPMG?

This may seem like a tough question as firms such as PwC, Deloitte and Ernst & Young offer similar experiences. When preparing for this question,one of the most important things is to narrow down what separates KPMG’s offering (in terms of quality) from its competitors. To help, it’s worth considering the following points:

  1. Quality of training offered by KPMG;
  2. Great team working attitude of KPMG;
  3. Support of colleagues;
  4. The great work KPMG does in the community (make sure you are aware of this because you will be asked this at interview if you mention it);
  5. Possibilities for career advancement in KPMG;
  6. Reputation of KPMG.

You will also be asked “Why do you want to work at KPMG” during the interview, although it will probably be phrased as follows: “What separates KPMG from other firms and why do you want to work for KPMG instead of the others?” Make sure your answers are consistent and demonstrate the research you’ve done, as well as your commitment and belief in the company.

What do you think you will be doing in your first year at KPMG?

It’s really important that you research this question thoroughly and have a well informed answer prepared. If you answer it badly or wrong, it will imply you haven't done your research and may not be sure of what you’re getting yourself into and it’s very unlikely you’ll be offered the role. To help, you can telephone KPMG and tell them that you are considering applying and would like to know what sort of things you will be doing in your first year. They’ll be happy to give you more information, and may even offer you the chance to come in and ask them questions before you apply.

Take a look at the WikiJob pages for Audit and Tax, which will help you answer the questions above for these service lines. The KPMG website also has lots of useful information about the graduate application process which will help you prepare.

Situational Judgement Test

When applying to KPMG, all candidates will have to sit a psychometric test called a situational judgement test. The purpose of this test is to generate questions for the interviewer based on your answers; you will not be selected or screened on this.There are no right answers for this test as it’s based on your own interpretation of the best way to handle specific situations.

Don’t try to guess what KPMG wants to know, but answer truthfully based on your own values and knowledge. You should review KMPG’s core competencies to identify how they might relate to your answers. You can find out more details about this test and take practise versions of it at either AssessmentDay or JobTestPrep.

Online Reasoning Test

You will be asked to take the online reasoning test. This is a Cubiks test, which is industry standard.

There are 40 verbal questions and 24 numerical questions. You will have 20 minutes to answer the verbal questions and 20 minutes to answer the numerical questions. The KPMG tests are more difficult than most other firms; however they have a lower pass mark (around the 30th percentile). The key is accuracy, but don't expect to finish all the questions.

First Interview

The first interview will last approximately 45 minutes and will be with a manager from your line of service (or occasionally someone from HR). It is a competency-based interview and you will be asked a number of questions designed to determine your experience against the key competencies described above. Ideally, you should also aim to display the following attributes:

  1. Commitment to teamwork.
  2. Ability and desire to lead and inspire.
  3. Respectability and responsibility - are you how the company would like to be perceived by clients?
  4. Ethical and truthful - are you trustworthy and can you demonstrate your integrity?

Furthermore, they will be looking for a commitment to the role and a career at KPMG and a clear understanding of what makes you want to want to work for KPMG instead of other accounting firms.

Questions that you are likely to be asked during this interview:

  1. Describe a time when you worked in a team (testing teamwork)
  2. If a member disagrees with you, how did you handle that? What was the outcome? (testing leadership)
  3. If your tasks have become a daily routine, how would you keep yourself motivated? (testing resilience)
  4. Describe a current issue in the business world?
  5. Give an example of a company that you believe has the potential to grow and why?
  6. Give an example of a company that has grown a lot in the last couple of years, and what would you advise them to do next?
  7. What problems do you think professional services firms are facing today?

You will be expected to give examples of specific situations to back up these competencies. You should receive an email ahead of the interview giving a specific list of the competencies that your individual interview will focus mainly on (based on your application and SJT answers). In addition, make sure you take a good look at the example questions listed under these competencies on the KPMG website, as some of the questions in your interview are likely to be very similar to these.

Assessment Centre

You will participate in four or five activities during your assessment centre: a client meeting, a manager meeting, a Virtual Office Exercise, an Analysis Exercise, and in some cases, a final interview.

Remember, the other candidates present at your assessment centre may not necessarily be applying for the same service lines as you, so don’t be overly aggressive or competitive, as it will be frowned upon. Following your assessment centre, you will be given an opportunity to assess your own performance on the exercises and should use this opportunity to explain your actions and recommendations.

For more information, take a look at this useful guide to KPMG's assessment centre.

Client and Manager Meetings

During the client meeting, you will discuss your future working relationship with a potential client and ask questions you will need for the manager meeting. In the manager meeting, you will chat about what you learned from the client meeting and answer some competency-based questions.

KPMG interview questions

Prepare for competency questions in the manager meeting.

Virtual Office Exercise (70 minutes)

This is a computer-based simulation based on a fictional business. You will receive a booklet with information about the business; and various information about its opportunities. The assessment will determine how well you can manage and organise priorities.

During the assessment, you will need to answer questions about emails that appear in your inbox. Each question will require you to do one of the following:

  1. Extract information from the booklet;
  2. Perform simple calculations;
  3. Decide how to deal with unhappy clients, over-demanding managers and similar situations.

Your answers will be selected from a multiple choice list. As time progresses emails will arrive faster, and the last few will appear in quick succession. There are 24 emails in all.

  1. Exercise caution as the wrong answers may appear to be correct at first glance.
  2. Work swiftly but carefully. Do not guess answers; it is better to leave questions unanswered then to panic and guess the wrong answer.
  3. If a question requires a judgement call, a diplomatic response will often be the most suitable.
  4. You will be provided with a calculator and may not use your own.
  5. The software format used is exactly the same as the practice test.

Real-life training and practise In-tray and e-tray tests are available here.

Analysis Exercise (50 minutes)

This is also a computer-based test. You will be given two emails which include information you will use to make recommendations based on the subject matter. The computer software is simple to use and you will be shown how to use it before the exercise commences. No familiarity with any software is required.

  1. Ensure you allocate time between the emails. Task management is a core competency of KPMG.
  2. Ensure you write in a clear, logical style. You must present your arguments carefully and with justification.
  3. Check the spelling, punctuation and grammar carefully. No spell checker is provided.
  4. Do not use information you know but which is not provided with the scenario. All information you require is provided.
  5. If you cannot touch type, it might help you to learn to do so.
  6. If you complete the task early, you will have the remaining time to review your responses. The exercise is performed on the computer and will end automatically when the time has expired.

Lunch

Lunch is an opportunity to talk with recent joiners of the graduate scheme and a few more experienced staff. It will last about two hours, so there will be plenty of opportunity to chat and ask questions. You are not being assessed during lunch, but you should ensure you are strictly professional. There may be wine available, but it is advisable to steer clear of alcohol.

Final Presentation/Interview

If you have applied to Audit, and were successful during the other activities during the assessment day, you will be invited to stay for an interview with a senior member on the same day. This interview will be more in-depth than the first interview and may include more technical and specific questions.

If you have applied to Advisory or Central Services Sales and Marketing, you will be invited back to the office for your final interview. You will also be sent a specific scenario in advance, for which you will be required to create a 10-minute presentation which you will present to the senior representative interviewing you. The following is an example scenario:

You are working for KPMG as a junior advisor on a client (an organisation of your choice; the organisation you choose does not need to be a KPMG client). You are presenting to a Partner/Director who is heading up the KPMG team on the project for this client.

Your presentation is focused on the ways in which the client can further develop their business. What advice would you give to the organisation on effective expansion of their business, and why?

Your presentation should include:

  1. A very brief overview of the organisation;
  2. How they can expand/further develop their business;
  3. The advice that you would give to this organisation to ensure successful development of their business, and why.

The presentation should last no longer than 10 minutes, after which you will be asked a few questions on the subject of your presentation.

You should prepare any handouts or other materials in advance of the day. Do NOT prepare any presentation slides, as an overhead projector/a computer will not be available. Please note that you will not be able to use a flip chart either.

You will be expected to talk for the whole 10 minutes uninterrupted. Following this, the partner will likely ask you questions for an additional 20 minutes.

Tips and Advice

  1. Stick to what you know; you don't have to talk about a large company, you can talk about a local bakery if you prefer.
  2. Remember that your task management is being assessed - so try and stick to 10 minutes.
  3. It’s best to use an easy-to-understand business e.g. high street retail. Consider avoiding internet businesses such as Facebook or Google - these are too different from traditional businesses.
  4. Try to avoid using any KPMG clients.
  5. Focus on what advice KPMG can give. You want to show an understanding of KPMG and what services it provides. Examples include:
  • Provision of tax advice
  • Providing a list of potential takeover targets

You will be asked questions and challenged about the advice you give and will have to justify your reasoning. If you are struggling to think of ideas for this section, trying using SWOT analysis techniques.

Being Made An Offer

You can reasonably expect to hear within three working days if your application has been successful.

Rejection

If you are unsuccessful at the application stage, KPMG will provide you with detailed feedback about your application and why you were not accepted. If you are unsuccessful during the process, KPMG will provide you will full feedback at all future stages.

Other Useful Resources

If you’re applying to KPMG and want some additional help with those tricky interview questions, why not check out the following resources: