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How to demonstrate BDO’s five most-wanted competencies

You will no doubt be asked at interview, ‘why BDO?’ which is a good opportunity to give an answer that shows you’ve researched the firm well

In your application, at your interview and during your assessment day, make sure you keep these five key competencies in mind and demonstrate them whenever possible throughout BDO’s recruitment process. Good academic grades are not enough – if recruiters cannot see evidence of these competencies they will not be interested in hiring you.

Client service

BDO believes that one of things that distinguishes it from its competitors is ‘the amount of time and attention we invest in getting to know every client and their business’. For this reason its recruiters look for graduates who are extremely ‘people-focused’, able to establish excellent working relationships with their clients.

How to demonstrate client service

  • For your interview, think about any situations, such as in a part-time job, where you’ve gone out of your way to help a customer, or solve a customer’s problem. Even if you haven’t worked directly with customers, can you think of a situation where you’ve had to build relationships with others, perhaps in a student society or club?
  • To work well with clients, you need to have an engaging personality – remember this during your time at the assessment centre and let the best aspects of your personality come through during both the formal and informal aspects of the day.

Commercial and market focus

To serve a client well, you need to be alert to what is going on in a client’s business and sector, and understand the commercial impact of what you do. You can’t advise a business if you don’t understand how the business world works. The news section of BDO’s website is a good place to start if you want to demonstrate this competency. Each month, for example, the firm publishes a business trends report, incorporating the opinions of 4,000 different respondents from various companies. You don’t have to know everything in depth about the firm, but if you didn’t know, for example, that BDO International is the world’s fifth largest accounting network or that BDO and PKF merged in 2013, you’d look woefully underprepared.

How to demonstrate commercial and market focus

  • During the assessment day you’ll be given a cases study to work on with a group of other candidates. Keep a business head on – what are the commercial implications of anything you suggest?
  • You will no doubt be asked at interview, ‘why BDO?’ which is a good opportunity to give an answer that shows you’ve researched the firm well and are more interested in the role rather than just wanting any job.

Accountability for results

BDO wants its employees to take responsibility for the quality of their work, which involves being attentive to detail, managing their time effectively and meeting deadlines.

How to demonstrate accountability for results

  • The in-tray exercise during the assessment day is a good chance to demonstrate the skills above as you’ll be given an hour to complete two tasks. Show that you can manage your time well – take a few minutes at the start to prioritise and plan what you’re going to do.
  • During interviews, think about any times you have achieved a good result – whether in academic or part-time work, or extra-curricular activities. Can you explain the steps you took to make sure that you achieved the best result possible, and what you learned from the experience?


If you work at BDO good communication with your clients will be vital. You must be able to listen to what a client is saying, ask the right questions and make sure your advice is explained in the clearest way possible (written or oral). You may also be required to have difficult conversations with clients and colleagues, so extreme tact is necessary.

How to demonstrate communication skills

  • Obviously your communication abilities will be put to the test throughout the selection process, but particularly during your interviews. Smile, think before you speak, and be clear and concise.
  • Your interpersonal skills will also be tested during the group exercises – can you listen to the other group members and respond to their suggestions tactfully and respectfully? Can you convey your suggestions in a way others can understand?


Most of your time at BDO will be spent working as part of a team, with both clients and colleagues, so BDO recruiters will be looking to see if you’re comfortable collaborating with other people.

How to demonstrate teamworking skills

  • During the group exercise at the assessment centre, find opportunities to demonstrate any negotiating, influencing and advising skills, without showing off.
  • At interview, think about times when you’ve worked with others towards a common goal – this could be on the sports field, but equally it could be for an academic project, in a club or in a part-time job. Have you had to run a bar as part of a team, for example, or been part of a server team at a restaurant? Make sure you explain why your team was successful, and how your own personal contributions positively affected that outcome.
Our 'How to get hired' articles are written by TARGETjobs editors and writers with job candidates in mind, helping you research and understand employers. Copyright of all material written by TARGETjobs lies solely with GTI Media.
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