KPMG is a highly desirable workplace for many people, making the competition to land a job quite fierce. One of the challenging assessments you must encounter to become an employee at KPMG is the KPMG case interview, a practical screening tool used to assess a candidate's analytical and problem-solving skills.
KPMG case interviews are often candidate-led. The candidate will be leading or taking control of every step ahead to solve the case. This includes structuring the problem, drawing frameworks, asking for data, synthesizing findings, and proposing solutions.
The KPMG case interview occurs in the last stages of KPMG’s recruitment process and typically lasts 30-45 minutes.
KPMG case interview occurs in the last stage of the recruitment process
There are three standard stages that occur during the KPMG recruitment process: Online application ⇒ Online assessments ⇒ Interviews.
Stage 1: Online application
The application stage for KPMG is relatively straightforward, which involves filling out an online form and submitting your resume and cover letter. These documents must showcase your relevant skills, educational background, and achievements in previous work. By that, KPMG can assess your potential and suitability for the job.
Stage 2: Online assessments
KPMG Online assessment is designed to assess potential candidates for their mental capability, problem-solving skills, and work personalities. There is no consistent test format across locations and positions; however, there are some common test formats, as follows:
Game-based behavioral assessment: psychometric games, such as “KPMG Ready” and “Cognify and Emotify”, assess the cognitive capability and decision-making style of candidates.
Aptitude test: a computer-based test type that comes in three parts: numerical, verbal, and inductive reasoning.
Scenario-based test: a situational judgment test including given scenarios and a series of questions, which tests your working behavior and personal fit.
Stage 3: Interviews
The KPMG interview stage typically consists of several rounds, depending on the location and specific role. These interviews are usually conducted in person or through video conferencing. However, regardless of interview formats, two types are always included in the KPMG interview stage: the case interview and the behavioral interview.
Case interview: often lasts 30-45 minutes, assessing a candidate’s ability to analyze and solve business problems.
Behavioral interview: often lasts 30-45 minutes, assessing a candidate’s experience, competencies, motivations, and personality fit.
What does KPMG look for in candidates?
During the KPMG case interviews, candidates should be able to demonstrate traits that align with KPMG's five values: Integrity, Excellence, Courage, Together, For Better.
Integrity: Make decisions based on goodwill
Excellence: Keep learning and improving
Courage: Think and act decisively
Together: Respect and be ready to help each other
For Better: Do meaningful acts
KPMG case interviews are candidate-led, where you are expected to take the lead. Specifically, candidates need to develop their own approaches to break down issues, identify the root causes, and gather data from the interviewer to test their hypotheses.
Candidate-led cases focus less on being right
The primary goal of candidate-led cases is to examine HOW you solve problems rather than getting a specific solution. In candidate-led case interviews, you are asked to break down the problem independently, with little help from the interviewer. As a result, a higher margin of error is acceptable, unlike interviewer-led ones, where you are effectively guided through the process.
Candidate-led cases focus on one big problem
A candidate-led case interview involves solving a problem entirely rather than relying on breakdown questions like an interview-led case. To solve one big problem, you need to apply the top-down approach, which means breaking it down into smaller parts and tackling each. This is a regular consultant task, showcasing your organized and structured manner.
Candidate-led cases are flexible
In candidate-led case interviews, candidates can explore the case with their own strategy. The interviewer usually has a “universe” of information about the client and their problem, which the candidate can freely use to research. Additionally, the interviewer can “make up” new data to support your ideas if you develop new solutions and approaches.
To ace the candidate-led case interview, you need to understand the fundamentals of a candidate-led case. Our Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program features countless instant-result tips and techniques for case interviews to help you maximize your performance!
After learning the tips and some sample cases, you will need exclusive feedback. Book a meeting with our coaches at MConsultingPrep now! Those ex-consultants will help you practice specific candidate-led case interviews, give you the most detailed and concrete feedback, and suggest the most suitable improvement methods.
To solve the KPMG case interview, you need to develop an issue tree to break down your case. To create a suitable issue tree, you can use five common frameworks for case interviews: Profitability framework, Business situation framework, McKinsey M&A framework, 4P/7P marketing mix, and Porter’s five forces model.
To further enhance your case interview performance, you can also apply five effective tools (or mini-frameworks): External vs Internal, Quantitative vs Qualitative, Costs vs Benefits, 2x2 Matrix, and SWOT analysis.
Five common frameworks for case interview
Profitability framework is mostly used to mathematically break down problems before switching to the qualitative framework for solutions. To use the profitability framework, candidates will split profits into revenues and costs.
Business situation framework is used to analyze a company situation in four area - Company, Competitor, Customer, Products (3C-1P). This 3C-1P framework is flexible for many purposes, however it may be too generic and need customization depending on the situations.
McKinsey M&A framework is used to assess a proposed merger and/or acquisition on three aspects: standalone values of each involved company, their synergy, and other factors. This framework is MECE and promotes customizations, and is one of the best M&A frameworks.
4P/7P marketing mix in marketing for tangible work analyzes the 4P - Product, Price, Place and Promotion; while in service marketing three other Ps will be added in - People, Process, and Physical evidence. This framework focuses on the marketing aspect, hence unsuitable for multi-function strategies.
Porter’s five forces model analyzes the industry surrounding a business in five aspects - Suppliers, Customers, Competitors, New entrants, and Substitutes. This framework is used to get an industry overview and understand the client’s context.
Five effective tools for case interview
External vs Internal method is quick and easy to segment information about a particular entity. The internal branch concern what is inside or intrinsic of the said entity, and the external branch concerns the outside factors.
Qualitative vs Quantitative mini-framework is used for evaluations. Dividing items into two MECE groups reduces confusion and minimizes the risk of missing an essential item.
Cost vs Benefit in the decision-making process is very straightforward - if the benefits of an option outweigh its costs, that option can be chosen.
2x2 Matrix is a decision-making tool where options are examined using two criteria, each of which forms an axis of the matrix.
SWOT analysis mini-framework is seldom used in case interviews for being too generic. However, it can be used for a quick and easy evaluation of a company’s positioning within the industry context.
To have a deeper understanding of the common framework used in the case interview, you can check our free article on Case Interview Framework.
You can follow our five-step preparation to prepare for the KPMG case interview.
Step 1: Familiarize with candidate-led case examples
To become familiar with KPMG candidate-led case interviews, you can look at some official examples on KPMG’s website.
However, consulting companies only provide a minimal number of sample cases for your reference. Check out our Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program, where you can find standardized exercises and deep-dive guides to ace any case, not just ones from KPMG!
Step 2: Practice consulting math
Consultants require math skills to handle massive amounts of quantitative data. Some tried-and-true math practice tips are:
Use Your Head: Do all your daily calculations mentally unless an EXACT answer is required.
Flatten the Learning Curve: At the beginning, a piece of scratch paper and a 5% margin of error may help; once you feel confident, throw the paper away and reduce the margin.
Establish a Routine: Allocate some time for daily practice. This may seem hard at first, but you can feel the improvement once you’ve overcome the inertia.
Step 3: Develop business intuition
Case interviews are easier to pass if you have good business sense. Getting better at business intuition takes time, so start early, practice every day, and be patient. Step by step, these business insights will begin to feel natural to you. You can improve your business sense in two ways:
Written Sources: I suggest reading business papers daily; you can also visit McKinsey, Bain, and BCG websites for their excellent articles. Beware though – it’s not the pages you read that count, but the insights you draw from them.
First-hand Experience and Observations: Don’t just come to your workplace to work; examine what senior managers are doing – what’s the rationale for their decision, and how has it impacted the organization?
Step 4: Learn the fundamentals and frameworks
To excel at case interviews, you’ll need a solid understanding of the fundamentals and structured approaches. Case interview fundamentals such as hypotheses, MECE, issue tree, and other frameworks are the backbone of any case, so try to master their application in case interviews.
Read more on our comprehensive Case Interview Guidebook to familiarize yourself with crucial terminologies, concepts, and problem-solving fundamentals.
Step 5: Perform mock interviews
The best strategy to prepare for a case interview is to practice as many mock cases as possible. During your practice, take time to study and review your cases thoroughly so that you can identify your areas of improvement and develop specific approaches for each question type.
The video below provides examples of candidate-led case interviews, the format used in the KPMG hiring process. This video also includes step-by-step instructions to help you understand this case type deeply:
Tip #1: Understand the procedure of a candidate-led case interview
There is a five-step procedure to approach the KPMG candidate-led case interview.
Taking the case: You need to take notes on all information regarding the clients and the case situation. Keep your notes organized to refer back to them easier.
Clarifying: You will have time to gain more information and/or clarify the points you haven’t fully understood about the cases.
Structuring: You will need to break down the case business problem into smaller components to create the issue tree, allowing you to solve it in an effective and cohesive manner.
Hypothesizing: You must develop the hypothesis based on evidence and available data about the problems and find the root cause. If the initial hypothesis in a branch of the issue tree no longer makes sense, go to the next branch. If the hypothesis matches, stick to it to find the root causes and solutions.
Pitching: The pitch is your case interview's final product, where you summarize all findings and recommendations to solve the case. You need to deliver the pitch in a structured, top-down manner.
Tip #2: Have a perfect case opening
There are four reasons to make a good case opening while you deliver your case interview:
First, it shows you have complete control of the upcoming problem-solving process, which is critical in candidate-led cases.
Second, you can demonstrate your whole leadership and relationships with proactiveness - aligning yourself with KPMG’s qualities mentioned above.
Third, a good case opening creates a great first impression. Consultants are expected to perfect everything from the beginning to the end, so this could make a good head start for a 30-minute interview.
Finally, this is an opportunity to align during the interview. After the interviewer has outlined the case details, explain the case to the interviewer in your own words to ensure you grasp the issue and align with the interviewer.
Watch more: How to open a case perfectly?
Tip #3: Map your next moves
Pause occasionally to summarize where you are and where you’re going next. It gives you a sense of direction and authority; additionally, you get plus points in the interview for an organized approach.
This also gives your interviewer a chance to help you with your mistake. If your interviewer gives you advice, take it – assume it’s intended to be helpful.
Tip #4: Be consistent with your intended hypotheses
Always speak with the current hypothesis in mind, and that hypothesis must be in the issue tree. The sole purpose of the hypothesis-driven approach is to have your efforts and problem-solving steps guided and structured.
Therefore, to avoid being overwhelmed by piles of data in your case interview, do a sanity check by returning to your issue tree. If your action does not correspond to your present place on it, go back immediately!
Tip #5: Deliver your pitch in one structured manner
This is the most important tip because you need to show that you own the consultant qualities - being structured and straight to the point. Present your analyses in a perfect, insightful, top-down, concise, and captivating final pitch.
Find a way to structure the problem; this will guide your discussion with the interviewer. Briefly explain the framework you plan to use, allowing the interviewer to comment. In general, the simpler the framework, the better. Once the interviewer endorses your framework, stick to it.
To structure your speech:
Begin with a summary line that states the key takeaway/intention.
Separate what you want to say into distinct sections. As much as possible, avoid jumping back and forth between items.
Number your items so you and your interviewer can keep track of them. It's even better to specify how many things you'll be discussing beforehand.
Make your recommendation based on the conclusions you reached from your discussion, even if you are unsure with so little data and time to discuss all the issues.
Tip #6: Make a personalized script
Make a script of what you will say and rehearse it a hundred times. Practice all of the formulaic phrases, such as the opening or data request. With enough practice, those lines will become second nature to you.
The secret to seeming professional in a case interview is to talk in a systematic and formal manner. Using scripts also saves brainpower, which you will undoubtedly want in case interviews.
Tip #7: Keep your notes organized
Neat note-taking greatly assists with your train of thought, making storing and organizing information easier. You're also demonstrating to the interviewer that you're well-organized and meticulous.
Divide your notes into three categories to make them easier to read and interpret: data, presentation, and scratch paper. When the interview begins, take three pieces of paper and name them appropriately. Here is the content that should be on each type of note:
Datasheet: note down and process any data the interviewer gives you and your calculations.
Presentation sheets: draft things you’ll say to the interviewer.
Scratch paper: anything else you need to write, such as brainstorming ideas.
Tip #8: Avoid long pauses
Take a minute to think; don't be afraid of the silence. If you need silence to think, ask for a timeout or announce think-out-loud mode. However, taking it too long will backfire, especially if you can’t come up with something worthy of the long wait. Use the pause prudently, and always try to think as fast as possible while still being “correct”.
Tip #9: Find and ask for more insights
Try your best to be in-depth and comprehensive with your analysis. Always ask yourself, “Am I overlooking something?” and “Can I drill down further?”.
This is also helpful when you are stuck in your analysis. You can try asking for insights from the interviewer (remember to state your purpose clearly) like this:
If you have a piece of data and don’t know what to make of it, ask for benchmarks to put the data into perspective.
If you are unsure which framework to employ, consider "segmentation" - look at how the customer or the industry often segments that item. If you need to know how they do it, ask the interviewer.
When you cannot see the problems in the case (probably resulting from the “MECE” of your issue tree), ask the interviewer nicely for a way out.
However, remember to manage your time well. If you take too long, the interviewer might force you to move on, and you will lose the time to solve the case holistically.
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