How to approach answering EY interview questions

Last updated: 22 Dec 2023, 11:29

Read on for expert advice on answering EY interview questions previously faced by graduate applicants along with further insight into EY’s strengths-based recruitment process.

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The EY recruitment process for graduates, industrial placement students and interns is strengths based. This colours every stage of the process: your initial application, online immersive assessments, assessment centre, known as the ‘EY Experience Day’ (this could be online or in-person, depending on the programme you're applying to) and final interview.

Read on to discover insights into how the firm will be assessing your strengths throughout the recruitment process and for advice on crafting good responses to the EY interview questions that you could face.

Jump to: EY Strengths-based recruiting | Preparation for EY interviews | EY interview questions | Asking questions at your EY interview | Final tips for your EY interview

EY strengths-based recruiting

EY’s strengths-based recruitment process is designed to reveal where you naturally work best. Strengths can be ‘realised’ or ‘unrealised’:

  • A ‘realised’ strength is one that a candidate has obvious experience of doing. It is something inherent to their character that they do on an almost daily basis without having to think about it.
  • An ‘unrealised’ strength can essentially be re-termed as ‘potential’. These are areas where you can develop but perhaps have not yet had the opportunity to do so.

It will help if you bear in mind the strengths EY focuses on, in its 'core strengths framework':

  • adaptability
  • curiosity
  • collaboration
  • learning agility
  • resilience
  • relationship builder

Integrity, personal ownership, motivation, written communication and numerical skills are also highly valued.

Strengths-based preparation for EY interviews

The strengths-based approach to questioning in EY’s interviews means that you’ll be asked several questions in a quick-fire manner. The overall point of the strengths approach, as opposed to the usual competencies-based approach to graduate interviews, is for EY to identify where you can naturally play to your strengths.

It’s difficult to go into your interview with specific answers in your head as it’s almost impossible to judge the kind of questions you will receive. Far better to have a thorough understanding of yourself and your experiences, as you can use these for some flexibility in your answers.

The example questions from previous EY strengths interviews, below, are a good starting point. Even if you’re not asked these particular questions, you’re likely to face something similar so you can think about how you’d answer them – just don’t try to memorise your responses word for word.

EY interview questions

Here’s the list of past EY interview questions for you to practise crafting your answers to.

  1. What do you do well?
  2. What activities energise you?
  3. When do you feel that you are most like ‘yourself’?
  4. When are you at your best?
  5. How can you capitalise on your strengths more

EY interview question 1: What do you do well?

Approach to take: Keep it tight – how does your answer relate to the job role? There’s very little point in running off on a tangent about a project where you got good results if the interviewer cannot follow your train of thought.

As a graduate on the business consulting programme, for example, EY says you will be ‘working with a variety of clients from start-ups to recognisable organisations’ and ‘analysing trends in industries like banking, insurance or telecommunications, media and technology’. EY welcomes applications to this programme from all academic backgrounds so you will not necessarily be expected to have an in-depth knowledge of these sectors beforehand. Any examples of times when you got to grips with unfamiliar topics, cultures or organisations quickly could stand you ahead of your competition. These could come from either your degree, work experience, extracurriculars or independent travel, for instance.

EY interview question 2: What activities energise you?

Approach to take: Think about the kind of tasks you enjoy doing and explain what aspects of these appeal to you – EY is trying to determine whether you’ve applied for a role that you would feel motivated in.

Remember that the work of a graduate on the technology risk programme is going to be very different to the work of a graduate in tax. Although both require a great deal of research into the client company, the strengths required in each team at EY are different. Someone helping clients to manage their tax affairs has to work within set guidelines – but being too focused on rules could hamper someone’s capability of testing risk, as they will probably have to think of creative models outside of some set parameters to do their job correctly.

EY interview question 3: When do you feel that you are most like ‘yourself’?

Approach to take: Don’t just give a basic answer, such as ‘with my friends’ – this says nothing. Instead, explain why you feel that way, how you fit into that group and how that reflects on your personal qualities.

Think about a circumstance that might relate to a situation at EY. For example, some client engagements will involve the process of due diligence, something any aspiring auditor will need to know all about. Researching, analysing and being able to break complex information down into usable segments will all be essential – so you have to ask yourself, ‘When have I done that, and do I feel as though those are my natural strengths?’


Discover graduate insights from and opportunities with the firm.

EY interview question 4: When are you at your best?

Approach to take: Not to be confused with ‘most like yourself’ – indeed, many people are at their best when taken out of their comfort zone and forced to address things that go against who they inherently are.

Given that your final interview comes after the EY Experience Day, you could even take the lead from your assessment centre activities and identify your strengths either by highlighting what you naturally did well or, if you found any of the tasks difficult, by comparing this with a task where you felt comfortable. Perhaps you mediated between two people with differing ideas – did you do so because of who you naturally are? Remember to relate back to other experiences; don’t rely on the assessment centre activities alone.

EY interview question 5: How can you capitalise on your strengths more?

Approach to take: Think about the opportunities at EY in terms of the training on offer – that’s one approach. Another would be to think, ‘What can I do between this interview and actually starting my job here?’ If your interview is in April and your graduate programme begins in September, that’s five months when you could be enhancing your skills. Do you already have plans to do this, and are you making sure you’re doing something extra to what you have done in the past?

What should you ask at your EY interview?

Every applicant will be asked whether they have any questions for the EY assessors, so it’s wise to come to the interview with some in mind. Here are a few topics you might like to consider:

  • How your role will interact with others across the business – you should know the basic links between these roles anyway, but does EY have a particular way of communicating between staff?
  • What are the company’s aims regarding particular economic markets in the current climate? The markets you need to understand for one client will be very different to those if you are working with another: EY needs employees who are capable of relating to the needs of both, so show your awareness.
  • Any further details about the specifics of the training that you’ll receive and the professional qualifications offered.

Remember, they’ve heard all the generic questions before. A good question is one that is specific to you, because that will not only show your interest, but will also make the detail of your research clear. EY recruiters want to hear questions that relate specifically to the work of the division you are applying to.

Head to our article on asking questions at interviews to ensure that you are prepared with effective interview questions before the day.

Final targetjobs’ help for your EY interview

You can check out our dedicated guide on answering strength-based interview questions for more help preparing for your EY interviews. Remember to also create your targetjobs profile to receive tailored advice content based

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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