We recently caught up with Gina who talked to us about securing her role with KPMG. She divulges why she chose a role with KPMG. How did Bright Network help her along the way; and some top tips for members to follow in her footsteps.
Why a role at KPMG?
Of course, the first thing that draws most graduates to KPMG is their reputation. They’re part of the Big Four, they will pay for your training, and they work with some of the biggest companies in the world - what’s not to like? So yes, the reputation is what caused me to click on KPMG in the first place.
But why KPMG over the other members of the Big Four? I actually found the answer to that question during my application process. As I worked through the various tests and interviews, I started to get more of a feel for the company. Firstly, everyone I met was super friendly and wanted to help in whatever way they could. I’m not sure why this surprised me, but I think I imagined everyone in the Big Four were scary business people. Secondly, you can see why the people at KPMG are so friendly, and it’s because they are well looked after. KPMG invest a lot in training their staff, especially their graduates. Granted, you may be expected to work hard, but you can tell everyone wants you to succeed and will do everything they can to get you to where you want to be. Lastly, KPMG’s values really aligned with my own. I wanted to make sure I was working for the right reasons - ethically and with integrity. KPMG put a lot of emphasis on this during my application, and it made me feel like it was definitely the right firm for me.
How did you build your commercial awareness before the interview?
It took a lot of research. Coming from a Physics degree, I had little to no knowledge about finance, or what KPMG really did. I started by reading whatever I could, mainly a lot of online articles about the Big Four. I read KPMG’s website - I learnt about their history, their clients, their competitors and their core values. I wrote down everything I could, a bit like I was preparing for an exam. Then, once I had KPMG’s history and purpose clear in my mind, I began searching the news for recent stories. It’s important to know what the firm doing right now, especially in the business area you want to join, as this will give you the best idea about what you’re walking into.
How did Bright Network help you secure this role?
Bright Network gave me so much information to help me choose, and land, my perfect role. I just kept reading everything I could on the website - from interview advice, to cover letter advice, to the mass of information they have on different firms. Plus, there was also always someone I could reach out to for advice, as Bright Network emails are from real people, who want to help you succeed. That’s one thing I learnt from Bright Network - never overlook an email. I accidentally stumbled upon an opportunity at Schroders in my Bright Network emails, then landed an Insight Week there during my first year at university. It was actually Bright Network who introduced me to KPMG’s opportunities too, and gave me a great rundown of the firm before I clicked “apply”.
What top three tips would you give Bright Network members looking to follow in your footsteps?
- Research everything. Make sure you know the firm inside out, as they will probably test you on it in the interview. This means knowing the firm’s values - I wrote down each value and an example from my own experience which aligns with this value (doing this made it easier for me to give flowing answers in the interview). It also means knowing about the role you’ve applied for, and why you want that role specifically, compared to other ones (Saying that - it’s also ok to say you’re open-minded. The role I was given wasn’t actually the role I applied for, but happened to be one which suited me better!). On that note - make sure you know about the other opportunities at the firm. One of my past interview questions was about the other branches of the firm… which I wasn’t entirely prepared for. Finally, from your research, prepare some questions to ask at the end of the interview. You can ask about the qualifications you may be taking, the teams you’ll be working with, or something you’ve read in the news. The more meaningful questions you ask, the more capable you look.
- Be yourself, and smile! By the time I got to my KPMG interview, I was done putting on a “professional persona”, or whatever I thought that was. I was just myself, I cracked a joke or two, and tried to have a real conversation with my interviewer. At the end of the day, your interviewer is a real person, who knows you’re going to be nervous. There’s no point masking those nerves with a stern face if that isn’t really you. But, on top of being your authentic self, do what you can to make yourself feel as confident as possible. Dress smart, put your shoulders back, and make sure you’ve done all the preparation you need beforehand.
- Apply, apply, apply. I can’t count the number of applications I went through before I applied to KPMG, but the more experience with online tests, interviews, and assessment days you have, the better. Interviews especially, as lots of examples you use in interviews can cross over, and the more times you tell a story, the more comfortable you become.
What’s been the toughest interview question you've faced?
I’ve always been wary of the question “What can you bring to the team?”, and I’ve been anxious about it for two reasons. Number one: It’s difficult not to be cliché. “I’m enthusiastic”, “I’m a team player”, “I’m a motivator” are all answers which didn't sit right with me. Number two: I don’t like sounding boastful. I’ve always had a sense of imposter syndrome, so asking what you can bring to the team is a horrible question to answer if you feel like saying “honestly, I don’t feel like I’m qualified enough for the team!”. But, after facing this question many, many times, I finally found an answer I liked. Instead of blindly naming character traits that I may, or may not have, I answered by drawing on experiences that I knew I did have. I spoke about the skills I learnt at university, especially the diversity of my degree (being both Physics and Philosophy), and highlighted the unique problem-solving ability this gave me. Essentially, find a real experience/skill which will make you stand out from the rest of the candidates, and choose that as your answer to “What can you bring to the team?”.