Interviews and assessment centres

Ten top tips on applying to BDO

21 Jun 2023, 15:41

There are four key steps in the BDO graduate application process: pre-application planning, the online application, the interactive assessment and the virtual assessment centre. Here are ten quick tips for making your application a success, whatever stage you’re at.

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1. Be open

Don’t discount yourself if you think your degree subject isn’t relevant. You don’t need to have done an accounting related degree in order to get a place on the BDO graduate programme – we take students from any degree discipline. If you’re not sure accountancy is right for you, take advantage of the insight opportunities BDO has on offer: Industrial Placement, Summer Internship and Black Heritage Virtual Insight week. These will give you a flavour of what it’s like to work in accountancy here. If you’re not sure what scheme would suit you best, visit our match me tool to find out which business area would suit you best.

2. Connect

Don’t be afraid to connect with people in the recruitment team or in areas at BDO you’re interested in working in. The best way to find out if a role is right for you is to talk to someone who is working in the area you’re looking to go into. Make the most of channels such as LinkedIn which make this much more accessible. Get in touch with us via the ‘Talk to Us’ tab on our website to ask any question you like of real BDO employees. This could be about particular roles and teams at BDO, about various career paths available, the culture at BDO or what it’s like day to day in one of our 18 different offices across the UK.

3. Do your research

Do your research to find out more about BDO and whether you see it as somewhere that’s a right fit for you. Look at our values and the initiatives we run and make sure you understand what we’re trying to achieve.

Certain attributes and behaviours are critical to you achieving your potential at BDO. The key is to demonstrate them throughout the recruitment process. Help yourself to get ready by thinking about your:

  • Business thinking. Can you show that you understand BDO’s business strategy and goals? Read the information on our website and keep abreast of business news to raise your awareness of the pressures, threats and opportunities for the firm.
  • Communication skills. In your graduate job, it’ll be vital for you to be able to communicate successfully with both clients and colleagues. Many elements of the recruitment process will be looking to see that you can understand, create and share information with others concisely and clearly.
  • Decision making ability. Can you adopt reasoned approaches and agreed processes to choose a course of action that will achieve a desired result? Think about times when you’ve had to make an important decision: how did you go about it, and what was the outcome (ideally a successful one!)?
  • Development of yourself. The group exercise at the virtual assessment centre is a great chance to demonstrate both commitment to your own development, and your ability to support others and help them reach their full potential.
  • Collaboration skills. It’s vital that you can work with others in a way that is mutually beneficial, delivers exceptional service and achieves business goals. Think of times in the past when you’ve worked as part of a team to achieve a goal.
  • Ability to innovate and change. Thinking creatively is essential to BDO’s success. Right from the start, you’ll be encouraged to generate new ideas and approaches. Have you ever come up with a totally new way of doing something? Or solved a problem no one else could?

4. Apply early

Don’t leave it to the last minute to apply. Prepare and make sure you’re giving yourself all the time you need to succeed. Graduate roles close on 20 November 2022.

Before you start your online application, make sure you have any supporting documents to hand.

5. Be prepared for the assessments

You’ll feel more in control if you know what to expect. You can help to prepare yourself for the BDO assessments by:

  • Getting a good night’s sleep. Being well rested will allow you to concentrate better and keep focused.
  • Making sure you know what each stage will involve. Being prepared will boost your chances of success. The interactive assessment will encompass numerical and verbal tests, a behavioural assessment and a video interview, and the virtual assessment day will include various tasks including group and individual tasks.
  • Before beginning the interactive assessment and the virtual assessment day, ensure you have a stable internet connection. Find somewhere quiet, where you can concentrate, and let anyone you live with know that you shouldn’t be interrupted.

6. Be mindful of instructions.

Yes, your teachers were right. Following instructions really does pay off. At every stage of our application process you’ll find useful instructions – they’re there to help you and keep you on track, so ignore them at your risk! For example, during the interactive assessment, there will be an introduction at the start of each assessment, talking you though the instructions. You will also receive instructions before your virtual assessment day.

7. Be honest

Honesty really is the best policy when it comes to applying for a graduate role. First of all, ethical behaviour is essential in a professional services context. In addition, if you’re honest, you’ll be able to support your application more effectively as any statements you make (and examples you give) will feel real and authentic, and impress recruiters much more than false statements ever will. Keep in mind:

  • In your online application, include any information you think would be helpful for BDO to know, but don’t be tempted to exaggerate. Keep everything factually accurate.
  • The behavioural assessment will not require any prior knowledge or expertise – the best way to help yourself is to answer the questions as honestly as possible. BDO needs to discover if you’ll be a good fit for it, and vice versa.

8. Be specific

At every stage of the application process, give specific examples that show you have the qualities and skills BDO is looking for. For example, on your application form or during your interview, don’t just say ‘I have emotional awareness (or digital creativity/determination/an ability to learn)’ and leave it at that – make sure you provide an example that demonstrates it. Think of a time when you’ve handled conflict, for example, or supported a team member who was underperforming… you can use examples from part-time jobs, extracurricular activities and university activities/projects.

9. Be involved

BDO wants to see enthusiastic team players who can work well with colleagues and clients. Demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role and your willingness to work with others by:

  • getting involved in the tasks during the assessment day. During the group exercise, show that you can listen and respond to others, as well as make sure your own points are heard. Use the opportunity to work out if BDO is right for you – if you’re involved it’ll be easier for both you and recruiters to judge this.
  • asking questions when prompted. Asking questions will show that you’re curious about the role on offer and want to learn more. Try not to ask questions that are answered on BDO’s website, however; do your research beforehand!

10. Be yourself

It sounds obvious but try to act naturally – during your video assessment and at the virtual assessment centre. BDO wants to get to know your personality, just as you want to understand BDO’s.

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