KPMG Assessment Centre

3 March 2010 - 4:10pm
PollyPerkins

Hi guys,
Recently had my AC so wanted to post up my experience in the hope it might help someone else prepare.

Arrive early - dress smart. The brief says smart/casual and a couple of the people at ours came this way but I don't think it's a good idea. They're going to want to see that you've made 100% effort. I introduced myself and got chatting with the others who were clearly there for the AC in reception. It broke the ice for the day.

We were taken to a small meeting room and after a quick introduction to the recruiter who was taking us through the day, we each said our names, what we'd graduated in, and what we were applying for. We each had a laptop which had a mouse attached and a calculator provided with note paper, pen etc.
We were given a tutorial of the E-Tray system and then when we were happy were left to get on with it.

E-TRAY -
Multiple choice - I found the first part fine! I finished in just the right time, with about 30seconds to spare. You have emails coming through, you start with about 6 and more pop up as you go along. Some are responses to your responses so they don't come up until you've answered the first in that email series. They are multiple choice and there are 4 answers, you choose the answer you think is most suitable.
As previous posts on here have stated, the scenario is you're taking over the role of someone whose gone on long term sick. You're transferring to thier office tomorrow but have given 2 hours this morning to deal with some urgent queries.
They mainly relate to 3 client projects. None are overly technical. Here are the main types of questions I remember coming up:
- Review some data and give a recommendation.
- Review data and pick out the worst/best performing office/option that will yield most ££ etc. - Most are subjective answers and there is no right/wrong but I guess these are - but don't panic there';s only about 2 of these and they're very simple maths).
- Choose employees who are free to work on a project for a set of dates who are skill set X of above - You are given a resources calender and a list of the employees skills so its just finding the data.
- Deal with delicate situations diplomatically (eg. A guy asks you to books the trains and hotel for a meeting you're going to, do you do it or advise sorry you can't or delegate it to someone else; data in an important report is wrong, should you leave it or tell client; someone on a project isn't providing the data you need and you can't move on til they have it, how do you handle it)
As long as you're diplomatic and practical this isn't difficult.
Written answers - This bit was harder. I ran out of time. I finished all my answers but wasn't able to go into as much detail as I'd have liked.
1st email is to do with and e-retail client. You're given their budget and priorities and 5 issues they coud address and related data. You have to recommend which of the issues you think they should address and why.
2nd email relates to KPMGs marketing. You get data and their budget again and some other info and how best they should focus their budget on marketing this year.

GROUP EXERCISE -
We had this before dinner. It depends how many of you there are I think but I don't suppose it makes much difference.
We were really lucky with ours there was only 4 of us so we each got to talk and it wasn't chaotic and no-one was pushy or bossy.
Again, you're dealing with an e-retailer and given a booklet of info to go over. I found it quite easy to read in the 10 mins provided as did another person in our group. What I'd say is you don't need to take in EVERYTHING in minute details. Your task is to identify their weaknesses and suggest 4 ways they can improve customer satisfaction. 2 to be implemented ASAP and 2 others that aren't so urgent. So as you're going through - look out for weaknesses.
you then get 30 minutes to discuss as a group and come up with suggestions that you then present back. There were 3 assessors sat around the room watching us, and there was only 4 of us there. They don't interact with you at all so just try and forget they are there.
Don't split off into small groups or delegate - it specifically tells you not to do this - you must work as a group.
I don't think the ideas you come up with are all that important here - they're assessing how you interact in a group project.
Let others speak, don't interrupt, but don't sit there saying nothing either, be polite and enthusiastic, but keep your eye on the task at hand. If people start to digress, politely pull things back on track. The 30 minutes goes fast!
The presentation doesn't have to be amazing, we just each took 1 of the 4 suggestions and spoke about that for a minute or 2.

LUNCH -
We went across the road for dinner with 2 trainees. They were really nice and chatty and we were able to ask plenty of questions.
They say this isn't assessed and I don't think it is insofar as they're ticking off competencies. However I think if you glugged a bottle of wine and/or started talking inappropriately I'm sure this would find its way back to the relevant people! So stick to soft drinks and maintain your professional decorum.

PARTNER INTERVIEW & PRESENTATION -
This was the part I was most nervous about and turned out to be nothing as bad as I'd imagined. On the way up to the room I made small talk to break the ice. The weather, where we'd been for lunch and what I'd had and was it nice etc.
Once in the room we had a 5 minute chat about the partner's career progression and his current role etc and he asked a bit about me and my background. Where I'm from and where I went to uni and so on.
Then was the presentation. I did mine on a discount clothing retailer who have performed excellently throughout the recession and their parent company, a plc, IS audited by KPMG. As long as you've researched the company well and know what you're talking about I do not think this is a problem. They aren't there to catch you out.
For my presentation I used prompt cards - I had a LOT to say in the 10 mins so pretty much all of it was written down but in bullet form so I could talk more naturally and make eye contact with the partner rather than reading it off like a robot , but it was all there to prompt me of my next point.
I provided the partner with one sheet of A4 which had on it the order of my presentation as well as a graph of the chains store growth against market share and a brief SWOT analysis.
I covered
- Brief history of the chain and how they've got to where they are today.
Financials - Just like for like sales for last financial year as well as the last 6 months as it'd gone up again, their revenue increase in last FY and their adjusted operating profit in last FY.
-Brief overview of the market they operate in
- SWOT analysis - I provided partner with a copy of this but in my presentation I said I don't propose to read through the whole thing I just wanted to highlight a few key points that I've taken through to my recommendations, and then listed them.
- Recommendations - Expand product line; Expand internationally; Introduce online shopping
- Concluded with which of the recommendations I'd implement as priority.
I was asked 2 questions - 1 was from a weakness on the SWOT analysis which I'd not expanded on.
Ethical trading - they had a bad rep but were addressing this - he asked me what they were doing. I stated the projects they were running and the website they've set up.
2. Did I know anything about the parent company and its share performance. I stated their performance having increased over last 12 months and how performed against competitors and listed a few of the other key industries they work in.
He said it was really good so I was pleased with that.

Interview - I've read on here it's more an informal chat. I disagree. It's another competencies interview. I don't know if they've changed it again, but the partner specifically said that the interview will be competency based and quite rigid as they ask most candidates the same kinds of questions for fairness.
The competencies they focus on are Drive & Resilience, Leadership, Masking an Impact, Problem Solving and Career Motivation.
They've already assessed Task Mgmt in the E Tray, Building Relationships in the Group Exercise and Business Focus in the presentation.
I was asked -
A time when I've worked under pressure.
How I keep myself motivated, what motivates me and what demotivates me.
A time I've given up.
A time I've had to train someone or help someone improve.
A time I've had to manage/lead others.
A time I've taken the initiative. Is that typical of me or not.
Why KPMG. What tax.

And I think that's about all folks!