Working at KPMG: pre-employment aptitude tests, interview and employment tips
KPMG is an auditing company that occupies a place in the top lines of ratings of audit and consulting firms. It is known as one of the “Big Four” companies: leading companies in business services. Besides KMPG, Big 4 includes PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and Deloitte.
The name KMPG is derived from the first letters of the names of the founders of the companies that originally entered this huge corporation: Pete Kleinveld, William Barclay Peet, James Maric and Reinhard Goerdeler.
KPMG activities include audit of financial statements, consulting services, including tax and legal questions, services to improve performance indicators and risk management, consulting on transaction support, business restructuring and fundraising.
It is one of the largest consulting firms by number of employees. The company has more than 200 thousand employees worldwide. Offices of KPMG are located in nearly every large city in Europe, Asia and Americas. The company prides itself on a huge client list in all areas of business.
Benefits of working at KPMG
KPMG is a company with a highly developed corporate culture and well-structured administrative processes. Among the advantages of working in this company, KPMG employees name:
- clear career prospects;
- valuable working experience;
- high demand in the labor market after working at KPMG;
- good team;
- corporate training and internships, including trips abroad;
- prestige of working in a company with that name;
- corporate clubs, sports sections;
KPMG is widely regarded as one of the best companies to start a career. It has always been prestigious to be a KPMG consultant. The most desirable status for KPMG employees is the title of a company partner. This does not imply a salary, but a percentage of the company’s income, and the income of KPMG partners averages at about 500,000 USD per year.
Disadvantages of working at KPMG
A characteristic feature of all large consulting and audit companies including KPMG is a huge amount of work, built in such a way that daily work of 10-11 hours is considered the norm in these companies. Overtime work, however, is paid in KPMG. But the main aim of working at KPMG is to deliver the project to satisfy a client and meet the interests of the company. Nobody cares about how and at what cost for employees this will be done.
According to KPMG employees, it is difficult for them to achieve a balance of personal and working life. They lack time to live outside of work. Young people without families who are ready to devote a lot of time to work and career feel better.
The main problems at KPMG are the following:
- low starting wages;
- high responsibility – high cost of error;
- regular overtime work (60-70 hour working week is a norm).
Features of working at KPMG
On the other hand, it should be noted that KPMG is also trying to pay due attention to recreation. The company has its own sports sections and clubs. Once a year in the summer, KPMG pays all of its manager-level employees and above a vacation to some prestigious resort. The company pays for business class flights and sends the entire team on vacation. KPMG usually books 5* hotels in the Dominican Republic, Turkey, Cyprus, Cuba and other popular resorts.
The company organizes bright parties and celebrations for its employees – clubs, yachts and trucks with premium alcohol are rented. As the KPMG employees themselves note, the company has a rule: we work hardest, which means we should have the coolest rest.
The company is included in the Top 15 best employers in the world in the rating of the most attractive companies for Universum students in 2018 and 2019. For students and graduates, the company offers very attractive conditions and not such strict pre-employment selection criteria compared to other Big Four companies. KPMG makes it easier for graduates with no work experience to find a job: there is no need to give many examples of achievements, leadership, teamwork and many other attributes that are usually rare among students and graduates. But if you are honest, capable and ready for development, then KPMG will appreciate it. The company enables any young person to start a career in the desired direction. Of course, in strategic and financial consulting departments, the requirements are much higher than in audit or tax departments, and in the risk management department, special knowledge is required. But it is absolutely possible to get into audit and taxes with a little training and an initial level of knowledge.
Comparing KPMG and other Big Four companies
KPMG compares favorably with other Big 4 firms in that overtime is recorded and paid for. Each employee himself maintains a time sheet, which is certified by his or her manager. Therefore, the time of employees is treated with more attention than in other companies of the Big Four. It is not customary at KPMG to abuse employees’ personal time and squeeze them like a lemon.
Among other advantages, it can be noted that KPMG provides for its employees an extended health insurance. It includes the services of the best clinics in your city and country, including dentistry.
Also, KPMG has a very convenient and effective system of internal issues resolution. A large number of support staff will be at your disposal; business issues upon request for information or assistance from related departments are resolved quickly and simply with one call or email. Also, you will have a convenient corporate website with a lot of advanced information and a variety of applications.
At KPMG, you will be assigned a performance manager from your first days at the company. Usually an employee at the managerial level and above, who will be your mentor and advocate. Also, he or she will regularly check your results, and it is he or she who evaluates your achievements for the year when paying bonuses and deciding on your promotion. However, you should know that you have the right to change your personal manager.
To summarize the above, if you are young, ambitious and willing to work 60-70 hours a week, you will grow rapidly at KPMG. For graduates by the age of 33-35 there is a real opportunity (according to our calculations, the chance is 1 in 20) to receive the status of a partner.
If you want to know more about the Big Four companies and learn how KPMG is different from the other firms, read our articles:
How to get a job in KPMG
KPMG is a very prestigious place of work and the competition for 1 vacancy can reach 1500-2000 people. According to company statistics, only 2.5-3% of applicants get a job offer.
According to KPMG HR, the following personal qualities are required from applicants:
- motivation for career growth;
- striving for continuous development;
- ability to spot opportunities;
- professional knowledge;
- responsibility at work;
- ability to work both in a team and independently.
As noted in the HR department of KPMG, candidates for vacancies of the company require several mandatory practical skills:
- ability to confidently use EXCEL and other office and accounting programs;
- the ability to thoroughly understand basic economic terms;
- knowledge of the basics of macro and microeconomics;
- ability to explain these things in a way that is understandable. For example, a KPMG team may be hired to audit and consult on a plant or farm. You must be able to explain to a person of any level of knowledge what he/she needs to do.
Pre-employment selection stages at KPMG
KPMG HR uses standard pre-employment selection procedures. If you want to get a job in KPMG you should:
- Submit an application on the official website of KPMG;
- Pass KMPG aptitude test (online or in office);
- Pass an initial interview;
- Do well at final interview.
In some departments, assessments can be added that include group exercises, case studies, group discussion and business games.
Submitting an application
All KPMG vacancies are posted both on large HR portals and on company’s own website. We recommend using the official KPMG website – this way you can get a faster response and more attention to your application.
You need to register on the official KPMG website, create a personal account and enter data on yourself: education, work experience, personal and contact information. At this stage:
- make sure you qualify for the job you want to apply for. The primary selection of applications and resumes is made out by the ATS (applicant tracking system) software. If your set of skills and experience significantly differs from the requirements, you should not even try to send your application since it will not pass the selection through ATS;
- fill in all the required fields of the form – this is mandatory;
- attach a resume and a cover letter with full information about you: university, work experience, professional qualities, projects in which you participated in the university or at your job, achievements in sports, participation in charitable and social projects;
- check your resume and cover letter for literacy – mistakes are punishable by sending the application to the trash.
Many job seekers note that the application on KPMG website is very difficult. It can take several hours to complete. The questionnaire is only available in English.
Tip: try to impress KPMG representatives already at the stage of submitting your resume. Write a cover letter and resume that gets noticed. Write not like everyone else, but make a personal story that connects you with KPMG and it will surely catch attention.
We recommend reading our articles from the Training section on how to write and make your resume and cover letter visible.
Applying at KPMG if you are a student or graduate
When analyzing your resume, a lot of attention is paid to the university, if you are a student or graduate, and previous work experience, if you are a specialist. Graduates of top economic universities have a certain priority. We recommend graduates of other universities to show experience in working on business cases, participation in economic societies or clubs.
Tip: Many auditing and consulting companies offer summer internships for students. For example, KPMG invites students for 3-6 month internships as an assistant manager. Participation in such internships is a huge advantage for your career growth. Firstly, it is almost 100% guarantee of subsequent employment in KPMG or any other audit company. And secondly, such internships are a very interesting and valuable time. KPMG offers trainees both a lot of training and a lot of entertainment events. If you are still a student, we recommend that you take part with an internship from KPMG or any other audit/consulting company.
It should be noted that getting on such an internship is not easy. The selection of participants includes all the same stages as for applicants for KPMG jobs: submitting an application on the official KPMG website, online aptitude tests and an interview. And in the same way, only 4-5% of applicants get it to the end of the selection and get onboard.
KPMG pre-employment aptitude tests
If your profile is interesting for the company, you will get an email with a link to the official KPMG website with aptitude tests that you need to pass in order to get a job. Some departments do not conduct online testing, but invite applicants for a testing at the company’s office.
A distinctive feature of KPMG is that it uses aptitude tests from different test development companies for different departments. As well they include a different number of psychometric tests. Test companies can be On-target, Kenexa, SHL and Cubiks. Each KPMG department uses its own aptitude test, which consists of questions to assess your professional knowledge (accounting, finance, taxes), the level of knowledge of the English language, situational judgement tests and ability tests (numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning and abstract reasoning tests). In some departments only some of these tests are used. In some others additional professional aptitude tests may be added.
As we indicated above, you may need to either take online aptitude tests on KPMG website, or face-to-face testing in the office as part of a group of applicants.
English tests at KPMG
Some KPMG departments use testing entirely in English even if you are from a non-English speaking country. To work in KPMG, you need to have knowledge of English at the level of at least Upper-Intermediate by TOEFL.
Most departments also require that you write an essay in English on a given topic. Here you can come across any topic. Applicants who practiced on Aptitude-Tests-Practice told us about the following:
- Write about a real situation from your life when your sense of humor helped you.
- What are your life priorities?
- Describe your first day as an auditor.
- What features of an ideal manager can you describe?
- If you were not an auditor, what profession would you choose and why?
- What stress means for you and how do you handle it?
Tip: do not use drafts, but write your essay right away in clean copy. You will have just 20 minutes for writing an essay.
KPMG aptitude tests by department
In the KPMG audit department, you have to pass the following tests:
- Essay in English on a given topic (20 minutes);
- Verbal analysis test – 40 questions (25 minutes);
- Numerical test – 20 questions (20 minutes).
If you apply to the consulting department of KPMG, you will have a 2-hour testing in the office that includes 5 sections:
- personality and motivation questionnaire;
- abstract reasoning test of 20 questions (20 minutes);
- numerical reasoning test of 35 questions (35 minutes);
- verbal reasoning test of 40 questions (25 minutes);
- essay in English (20 minutes).
KPMG Tax Department conducts the following tests:
- professional test in general economics;
- professional tax test;
- abstract reasoning test of 35 questions (35 minutes);
- English test (arrange the form of the verb, choose the appropriate phrase from the options in response to the question, make the verb into a noun, insert the article, etc.);
- short business case (for example, write a response to a complaint to the client and management).
A separate professional test includes (for example, the tax department):
- closed tax test of 20 questions (corporate taxes);
- open questions of the following nature: the main difficulties in calculating the payment of taxes during export, list the sections of business accounting, describe the types of tax audits and their differences, the amount of fines for non-payment of taxes; who pays property tax, who does not; VAT deduction items; what taxes are replaced by UTII, etc.
- Essay in English (for 30 minutes): for example, “Tax mistakes of companies, how to avoid them.”
Aptitude tests in KPMG for logical, verbal and numerical abilities serves as a stage to test your intellectual skills to quickly and correctly count and understand complex texts, graphs and tables. According to employee reviews, KPMG aptitude tests are not difficult if you prepare for them.
KPMG numerical reasoning tests
KPMG numerical reasoning tests usually consist of tests from Kenexa, On Target, and SHL. They all have graphs, tables and charts. You don’t need to solve complex calculations but only four basic operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, as well as determining percentages and ratios. We recommend repeating the principles of finding percentages and relationships, since if you have not solved mathematical problems for a long time, this can cause difficulties.
Almost always, numerical reasoning tests include questions for converting currencies and measures (currencies, weights, distances). So, pay special attention to this during preparation. You will have 60-90 seconds for each question and usually a numerical reasoning test consists of 20-25 questions. In SHL and Kenexa tests, you may switch from one question to another. Therefore, if a question is too difficult and it is not clear how to approach it, leave it and work on others, and return to it later if there is time left.
Most probably you not be able to answer correctly all questions in the given time. The passing score is usually 55-60%. Note that the numerical reasoning test at KPMG is the stage that most applicants cannot pass. Up to 60% of all applicants cannot pass it.
Important: since different departments use tests from different developers, they use at KPMG different scoring systems. SHL tests score an unanswered question as 0%, but in the Kenexa and On Target tests, an unanswered question is -1% to your score. Always check with your company representative how the total test score is calculated.
Example of an SHL numerical reasoning test used at KPMG
Please see the end of the article for the correct answer and explanation of this test. First try to find the correct answer by yourself to test your numerical reasoning ability. You have 1 minute to do this.
KPMG verbal reasoning tests
Many applicants find KPMG’s verbal reasoning tests difficult. Indeed, if you have not seen such tests before, it will be difficult for you to answer correctly in the given 30-40 seconds.
At KPMG, applicants usually have to answer 40 questions within 25 minutes. At first glance, it is impossible to correctly answer so many questions in such a time. But it will not be difficult for a trained candidate. As a reminder, these tests are often given only in English.
KPMG uses two types of verbal tests:
- verbal tests “true – false – can’t tell”;
- multiple choice verbal tests (verbal analysis test).
Below you can see examples of both of these types of verbal tests.
Examples of KPMG verbal reasoning tests
True – false – cannot tell
The main problem here is to decide between “wrong” and “cannot tell.” If the text does not provide an explicit refutation or confirmation of the text of the question, then it is better to put “cannot tell”.
Multiple choice verbal tests (verbal analysis test)
See the bottom of the page for answers and explanations of these verbal reasoning tests. Try to find the correct answers by yourself first to assess your verbal reasoning abilities. Will 30 seconds be enough for you to find the answer?
KPMG abstract reasoning tests
Abstract reasoning tests are not common within KPMG pre-employment process. Many departments use only numerical reasoning and verbal reasoning tests to assess intellectual abilities of applicants. So, we recommend you asking your HR representative in advance about the types of aptitude tests that you need to take for your position.
Abstract reasoning tests are used to test such abilities of candidates like imagination, spatial ability and logical reasoning. Please see below an example of an abstract reasoning test used in KPMG:
Please try to find the correct answer of this test by yourself to test your logical reasoning abilities. You can find the correct answer and explanation at the bottom of this article.
KPMG situational judgement tests
Just like abstract reasoning tests most KPMG departments do not commonly use situational judgement tests but we recommend you asking about this in advance. Recently more and more offices of KPMG all over the world start using them especially when selecting candidates for managerial positions.
Below you will find an example of a situational judgement test for office administrative staff.
See the bottom of the article for the answer and explanation of this test. Try to solve the test yourself first.
Most departments almost immediately say you your score of the aptitude tests. We should note the efficiency and clarity of HR processes in KPMG. You will not have to wait for weeks for the result of a test or interview, and you will not have to call yourself to find out whether you passed or not.
Note that there is a chance not to participate in testing at KPMG at all, but to immediately receive an invitation for an interview. This works for winners of business case-solving contests and specialized business awards.
Up to 80% of applicants cannot pass the aptitude test. Those applicants who passed the test get invitations for the first interview.
During your first interview, you will be talking with an HR representative of the company. We will talk about the results of your aptitude tests and details of your resume. The questions mostly concern to get to know you as an individual: how you spend your free time, if you have friends, how you see work in the company. Questions may sound like this:
- What are your most significant achievements?
- What were your favorite and least favorite subjects at the university and why?
- Have you taken part in extra curriculum educational programs, grants, exchanges?
- Are you a member of any public organizations?
- In addition to KPMG, have you tried or are trying now to get a job in other companies?
- If you receive invitations from all the companies, which one will you choose and why?
- What attracts you in KPMG?
- What do you know about the company and working at KPMG?
- How can you contribute to KPMG?
As you can see, most of the questions are about your personality and motivation. It is also very important for KPMG that you can demonstrate teamwork skills and focus on results.
Tip: practice answering to all the questions above in advance. Preparation will help you to coherently answer these and other similar questions.
As a specific question, we note that you may be asked if you know macros and SQL. You may be asked to demonstrate proficiency in EXCEL and SQL. For example, you will need to correct an incorrect formula in EXCEL.
We recommend reading our articles on the intricacies of a successful interview:
If you can show yourself to be an adequate interesting company and an experienced professional, you will receive an invitation to the final interview.
The second or final KPMG interview is an interview with a department head. This will be a more complex and lengthy conversation, which on average lasts 1 hour.
The questions will partly repeat the questions of the first KPMG interview, and partly they will assess your professional knowledge. You may be asked several questions on accounting, taxes, auditing, knowledge of the current economic situation in the country and the world.
As with the initial interview, you are expected to show adequacy, professionalism and the ability to think quickly and not get lost. Be calm and confident – if you have passed all the selection stages at KPMG, you clearly deserve a place in the team of this company.
Tips from Aptitude-Tests-Practice:
- make sure you are up to date with the latest news that is important to the audit and consulting industry;
- prepare to tell about yourself and what is important for you in your future work at KPMG, list what you would like to work on;
- think about the main reasons why you want to work at KPMG and in the department you have chosen;
- very often a conversation can be conducted with you entirely in English, be prepared for this!
In conclusion, you will be told about the system of work in the company and how the work will look like in that particular position where you are applying.
During the interview, you can and should ask questions, because this is a chance for you to find out how the work at KPMG suits your goals. We recommend that you read our article 8 Smart Questions for an Employer As the HR specialists of KPMG say, competent counter-questions at the interview are an indicator of the applicant’s intelligence. If there are no questions, it can play against you.
Many job seekers point out that by the way your conversation with the manager goes on, you can easily assess your success. If there are pauses in the conversation, silence, you are asked few questions – this is a bad sign. A sign that the manager is not interested in you. If, on the contrary, there is active communication, you are interesting and they will most likely hire you.
Only preliminary preparation will give you the knowledge of what awaits you at aptitude tests stage and interviews at KPMG. After preparation, you will be calmer and more confident in tests and interviews, and your chances of success will increase many times over. It is better to prepare now than to regret a missed chance later.
Aptitude tests answers and explanation
Numerical reasoning test
Verbal reasoning test 1
Verbal reasoning test 2
Abstract reasoning test
Situational judgement test