The Spilling the Beans Guide to ‘Success at your Assessment Day’

When I was applying for my internship there was one-thing that loomed large and foreboding at the end of the process that can be daunting to everyone –  the Assessment Day. The Assessment Day is also one of the most common areas we are asked about on Spilling the Beans forums, and through chatting to candidates on Jam and during our buddy catch-ups. Read on to find out more about what to expect from your Assessment Day.

The first thing to note is that you’ve already done very well to get this far in the process (well done!). You’ve made it through the initial application , the digital interview, the online assessments and hopefully by now you have engaged with associates in the office you’ve applied to as well. You’ve told us about your achievements and demonstrated your capability – it’s now time to showcase your personality and find out if you are the right fit for Grant Thornton and vice versa. Remember, generally we set our assessment days up so that we can offer a position to each person in attendance so it is important to relax, be yourself and demonstrate that you can fit into the Grant Thornton culture. With that, let’s get the Spilling the Beans guide to the assessment day underway.

Arrival

You should aim to arrive at your assessment day in plenty of time. Over and above ticking the punctuality box, this will give you a chance to settle down in the office environment and get to know some of the other candidates – this will help you throughout the day as you are all in it together.  Also, remember to dress for the job you want – business dress is always advised.

Group Exercises

The assessment days can vary slightly in their format but generally they will be kicked-off with a group activity. This is where chatting to your fellow candidates in the morning can come in handy because it helps everyone if there is good rapport. Remember, it’s not a competition so it’s in your best interests to bring others into these discussions and not try to over-dominate proceedings. Generally speaking, there are six candidates on average at an assessment day, however this does vary depending on the location. The exercise is designed to measure you against Grant Thornton’s CLEARR values of collaboration, leadership, excellence, adaptability, responsibility and respect so it’s worth being mindful of these throughout the day.  This exercise has a time-limit so make sure  you allow everyone a chance to speak whilst also ensuring that you share your thinking and insight. Remember, the assessors are looking at how you interact, as well as what you say.

Case Study

Another part of the assessment day is based on assessing your ability to tackle a case study. You will first look at the case study as a group and this will form the basis of your group exercise. This case study is used for all positions whether you are applying for Audit or Tax so it’s key that you are familiar with all of Grant Thornton’s services and not just the one you are applying for.

Once you’ve looked at the case study as a group, you will have a ‘meeting’ with one of the assessors where you’ll discuss how you would approach this client. With the case study, do your best to break down the information, make sense of it and come up with your thinking and approach in the preparation time given. The assessor will be looking to see if they think you would be a credible business adviser, so they’ll want to see how you would interact with the clients, what points you’ve picked up and then what suggestions you have to help this particular client

Top tip for preparing for this part: Remember, this part is all about demonstrating your ability to interpret and analyse the information. For example, you will likely be presented with narrative about the company along with some financial information. You are not expected to “solve” all the issues but rather you should concentrate on how would you help this client so for example which questions you would want to ask management to ensure you’ve got all the right information.

Individual interview

This interview is all about you – the assessor will want to spend some time getting to know you a little bit better. More than likely, they’ll be asking questions around your career ambitions, why you’ve chosen to apply for Grant Thornton and your chosen service line.  They will also want to understand your motivations and the way you like to work – these questions are designed to understand the way you approach certain tasks and how you deal with situations. The best advice is to be yourself and just have a chat, however, it may be worth thinking about what we may be looking for beforehand and then think of relevant examples to showcase you have these attributes.

Also make sure you are up-to-date with Grant Thornton in the media and understand what our goals are in our markets. It also helpful to keep in mind the balanced scorecard in these sessions to frame your responses to whatever scenario you are provided with. Finally, make sure you continue to show your interest in the area that you’re applying to. If you are doing your dissertation on a relevant topic, ask your interviewer what their opinion is, ask about topical developments in your field, and tell them why it interests you. Asking questions is great as it will really show the assessor our committed and interested you are in our firm and your chosen service line.

So that’s it, the day in a nutshell. Hopefully the above gives you some good insight into what expect, however, as always please ask any questions.

Good luck for the big day!