Get to know the KPMG application process

KPMG recruits on a rolling basis, so get an application in sooner rather than later.

With the exception of the final stage (part 6, below) the application process (which you can begin via the 'Apply online' button) at KPMG is the same for graduates and would-be interns.

KPMG expects to hire approximately 1,000 graduates this year. Competition is fierce, with reports of over 25,000 applications being received for the graduate scheme alone.

KPMG engages in a rolling process of applications, so there is value to getting an application in sooner rather than later. Below is a rundown of its application process.

Part 1: KPMG’s online application form

Candidates are asked only to fill out their academic and working history, with no further questions. This should take no more than 20 minutes. It breaks down into eight sections:

  • Personal details – all the usuals.
  • Application details – here you select the scheme or internship you are applying for. Do your research beforehand!
  • Contacts – information about any contacts at KPMG you have. This is a non-mandatory section to complete.
  • School/college education – institution name and grade.
  • Higher education – same as the previous section in terms of detail.
  • Accountancy qualifications – details of any accountancy qualifications you have taken or are taking. This is a generic form for all applicants to KPMG, including for experienced positions, so don’t be concerned – most at graduate level will not have professional qualifications.
  • Employment history – details about previous employers, and dates worked. There’s no room to expand upon the specific tasks you did.
  • Language skills – a non-mandatory section.
  • Equal opportunities – once more, all the usual queries.

Part 2: KPMG’s situational judgment test (SJT)

Applicants receive a link in their email to take the SJT within 24 hours of submitting their online form. The test takes about 30 minutes and asks applicants how they would respond to particular business scenarios. KPMG’s test provider is Cubiks, which provides practice tests on its own website.

The SJT is like a logic-based multiple-choice Q&A test. You’ll be given about 20 work-based scenarios with four different options to choose from in each, with 30 minutes to complete the test. Your job is to select the most or least appropriate response according to the situation.

The following examples are regularly asked questions used by various companies as part of their situational judgment testing:

1. It is your mother’s birthday and you’ve booked a special dinner for your family. You are en route to finishing in time for the get-together until your boss asks you to look up some numbers. This will take you an hour. What do you do?

Select the most appropriate response from the options given:

  • Stay at work.
  • Ask a colleague to do it.
  • Tell your boss where to find the numbers.
  • Go to dinner and finish your work in the morning.

How to approach: You need to look at this from KPMG’s perspective. Remember that they’ll be testing you on competencies such as being motivated in your career. All in all, is an hour really that long a delay for you?

2. Everyone in your department has received a new computer system except for you. What would you do?

Please choose the most effective and the least effective responses:

  • Assume this is a mistake and speak to your manager.
  • Confront your manager regarding why you are being treated unfairly.
  • Take a new computer from one of your colleagues.
  • Complain to Human Resources.
  • Quit.

How to approach: There’s a pretty obvious answer in terms of the least effective answer to this one. The most effective, on the other hand, is a bit trickier. Think about that competency of being resilient – but more importantly think about what it means as defined by KPMG, and how that terminology relates to this question. So many people will assume being resilient means standing your ground no matter what – but that’s not really what it means here.

What you need to put aside when taking a situational judgment test

Situational judgment tests present scenarios that are, to a degree, subjective. You may well view family as the most significant thing in your life and, hence, in our first example, not be willing to put them aside on this occasion. Many of the questions raise potential for discussion and longer analysis of the scenarios. However, this is a test – the answers are not up for negotiation. Remember, these tests are constructed from the employer’s perspective.

Bear in mind that KPMG is going to want to see if you can balance both work and life – if you’re not willing even to consider your working responsibilities outside of regular hours, then that’s not going to come across well.

If  the online form and SJT are successful, candidates will move to the next stage.

Part 3: KPMG verbal and numerical reasoning tests

Each of these takes 20 minutes and they must both be completed within the timeframe specified on your invite to test email. Cubiks provides bespoke services to its clients, so these tests are designed specifically for KPMG to see how well you evaluate numerical and verbal data.

Part 4: KPMG telephone interview

Your first KPMG interview will be conducted over the phone and will last about 45 minutes. It will be conducted by a member of the division at KPMG that you are applying to and will focus on KPMG’s main competencies.

Part 5: KPMG immersive assessment centre

Candidates are provided with information on a fictional company – based on KPMG. Activities throughout the day will focus on this company. As a whole, the day is much more about putting applicants into scenarios that relate to the work they would be doing for KPMG as opposed to evaluating motivations and opinions. It is a very interactive and hands-on process for applicants – or ‘immersive’, as KPMG refers to it.

This stage marks the end of the internship and work experience recruitment processes. The final part, below, only applies to applicants for the graduate schemes.

Part 6: KPMG partner interview

This may be on the same day as the assessment centre or the candidate may be invited back to the office to meet a partner or director. In short, this remains focused on key competencies. However, applicants may also be pressed more deeply on their market knowledge.

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