KPMG Case Interviews: Everything You Need to Know
For those interviewing for KPMG advisory or consulting roles, KPMG interviews consist of case interviews, a written case interview, and behavioral or fit interview questions. There are typically three rounds of interviews that candidates go through before receiving a KPMG job offer, but the interview process slightly varies by office.
Typically, you should expect an interview process similar to the following:
- First round: Two 30-minute interviews. One interview will be focused on a case interview while the other is focused on behavioral or fit interview questions.
- Second round: A 30- to 40-minute behavioral or fit interview, a 30- to 40-minute case interview, and a 60-minute written case interview for a total of three interviews.
- Third round: Some candidates may be given a third round of interviews. Expect two to three 30- to 40-minute interviews. These interviews are typically focused on behavioral or fit interview questions, but you may also be given case interviews.
If you have an upcoming KPMG advisory or consulting interview or are expecting to interview with them, we have you covered.
While KPMG does provide a few interview tips, their advice is fairly generic and not that useful. In this article, we’ll go into more detail on exactly what to expect in your KPMG advisory or consulting interview. We’ll cover:
- The 4 steps to solve any KPMG case interview
- KPMG case interview examples
- How to ace the KPMG written case interview
- The 10 most common behavioral or fit interview questions
The 4 Steps to Solve Any KPMG Case Interview
A case interview, also known as a case study interview, is a special type of interview that nearly every single consulting firm uses. KPMG case interviews simulate what the consulting job will be like by placing you in a hypothetical business situation in which you are asked to solve a business problem.
You will need to ace every single case interview in order to land a KPMG job offer.
KPMG case interviews are all candidate-led. You will be in the driver’s seat of the case interview and will be expected to ask the right questions, perform the right analyses, and decide the direction of the case.
Follow these four steps to solve any KPMG case interview or case study interview:
1. Understand the case
The case will begin with the interviewer giving you the case information. While the interviewer is speaking, make sure that you are taking meticulous notes on the most important pieces of information. Focus on understanding the context of the situation, the company, and the objective of the case.
Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions if you do not catch something. If you are not familiar with the industry, it is completely acceptable to ask how it works. Sometimes, repeating the information back to the interviewer is helpful to confirm your understanding of the case.
Finally, make sure to verify the objective of the case. Not addressing the right business question is the quickest way to fail a case interview.
2. Structure the problem
Develop a framework to help you tackle the business problem. A framework is a tool that helps you structure and break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable components. With a framework, you’ll be brainstorming different ideas and organizing them into different categories.
It is completely acceptable to ask the interviewer for a moment of silence so that you can collect your thoughts and think about the problem.
Once you have identified the major issues or areas that you need to explore, walk the interviewer through your framework. They may ask a few questions or provide some feedback.
3. Solve the problem
Once you have developed a framework, you can begin to solve the problem. To solve the case, you’ll likely need to answer a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions.
When solving quantitative problems, make sure to walk the interviewer through your approach before doing any math. Check if the interviewer has any further information for you before making your own assumptions. Finally, neatly label your calculations and write out all numbers so that the interviewer knows exactly what you are doing.
When answering qualitative questions, try to structure your answer in a logical way to make it easier to brainstorm or communicate your point of view.
For both quantitative and qualitative questions, make sure to go beyond just answering the question. Think about how your answer impacts the answer to the case. Always try to tie the implications of your answers to the case objective. This will help you develop a hypothesis for what a potential recommendation could be.
4. Make a recommendation
In the last step of the case interview, you’ll present your recommendation and provide the major reasons that support it. You do not need to recap everything that you have done in the case, so focus on summarizing only the facts that are most important.
It is also good practice to include potential next steps that you would take if you had more time or data. These can be areas of your framework that you did not have time to explore or lingering questions that you do not have great answers for.
KPMG Case Interview Examples
Below are some examples of KPMG case interviews or case study interviews that past candidates have received. These should give you an idea of the types of cases you may see on your interview day.
Example #1: National Zoo
Your client is one of the oldest national zoos in the United States. The zoo hosts over 2,000 animals in its 150-acre park. Your client is looking to increase revenues and profits and is considering purchasing a giant panda from China to place in its newest exhibit. You have been hired to help them make this decision. What would you recommend?
Example #2: Brewing Company
Our client is the largest American beer brewing company. The American beer market is dominated by three large players. The rest of the market is comprised of small mom and pop breweries.
What would happen to our client if the second largest and third largest American brewing companies decided to merge?
Example #3: Chemical Company
Your client is a privately owned chemical manufacturing company that specializes in producing car wash chemicals. After a series of aggressive acquisitions, your client has become the market leader in car wash chemicals, but revenue growth has been flat over the past few years.
Your client is looking to increase revenues by 20% without reducing profit margins over the next two years. How would you go about achieving this?
Example #4: Yoga Studio
Your client is Ms. Johnson, the proud owner of an up-scale yoga studio in New York City. Her yoga studio is known for high quality instruction and a relaxing atmosphere. Ms. Johnson has been operating the studio for the past five years.
Over the past year, your client has made a few major investments, but has noticed that her profits have been declining. How would you determine what is causing the decline in profits and what should be done to address it?
Example #5: Pharmaceutical Company
Your client is Pfizer, an American pharmaceutical company that develops and produces medicines and vaccines in a wide range of therapeutic areas. The CEO is worried about the company’s financial performance five years from now, when three of their blockbuster drugs come off patent.
What can Pfizer do to ensure that it continues to grow and be profitable?
Example #6: Insurance Company
Our client is an American auto insurance company. They are the second largest auto insurer in the United States and provide coverage for more than 30 million motor vehicles and more than 20 million policy holders.
Until recently, most car insurance is sold to car owners by insurance brokers. Insurance companies pay brokers a commission for each policy sold. Recently, car owners have started buying insurance directly from insurance companies over the phone.
You have been hired to help our client determine whether they should invest more in selling policies direct to customers over the phone.
How to Ace the KPMG Written Case Interview
Here’s how the KPMG written case interview works:
- The interviewer will give you a packet of 20 – 40 pages of graphs, charts, tables, notes, and other text
- You’ll have anywhere between 45 - 60 minutes to analyze the information in the packet and make slides to present your analysis and recommendation
- Afterwards, you will present your slides to the interviewer who will ask follow-up questions on your analysis and findings
Follow the steps and tips below to ace your KPMG written case interview.
1. Understand the business problem and case objective
The first step in completing a written case interview is to understand what the objective is. What is the primary business question you are trying to answer with the data and information provided?
Answering or solving the wrong business problem is the quickest way to fail a written case interview. Therefore, the first thing you should do is to read the instructions and the case background information so that you clearly understand the primary question you are trying to answer.
2. Read the list of major questions
Some written case interviews will provide you with a list of 3 – 4 key questions that you will be expected to address or answer.
Once you understand the overall business problem and case objective, read through the list of key questions. This will tell you what the most important areas of the case are. These will be the questions that you want to investigate and answer first.
If the written case interview is more open-ended and does not provide you with a list of key questions, skip this step and move onto the next step.
3. Quickly flip through the material to identify what information exists
The next step is to flip through the information packet that is provided to see what information is available. Identify what data you have and what data you do not have.
If the written case interview has provided you with pre-filled slide templates, make sure to flip through those as well.
The goal in this step is not to read and analyze every slide. That would take too much time.
Instead, you want to get a sense of what data and information is out there. This will help you decide and prioritize which slides are most important to read and analyze in more detail later.
4. Create a framework
Before you begin reading and analyzing the information in the slides in more detail, you should create a basic framework to help guide your analysis.
Select 3 to 4 broad areas that you think are the most important to analyze. In other words, what are the 3 to 4 things you need to know to answer the primary question of the written case interview?
If the written case interview has provided you with a list of 3 – 4 key questions, make sure to include these important areas in your framework.
Sometimes, these 3 – 4 key questions are your entire framework and you will not need to add anything else. Other times, you may identify important areas from flipping through the slides that you want to add to your framework in addition to these 3 – 4 key questions.
If the written case interview has provided you with pre-filled slide templates, these slides often provide clues on what the most important areas are.
5. Match information that exists to areas in your framework
Now that you have a solid framework to guide your analysis, the next step is to identify what information you can use to answer each area of your framework.
Since you have already flipped through the material and catalogued what information exists, you can match different pieces of information that exist to areas in your framework.
6. Read and analyze the material
The framework you created tells you what questions you need to answer. From the previous step, you know which slides the information is in to answer each question. All that is left to do is to read and analyze the information that is relevant to each area of your framework.
As you answer the major questions in your framework, make sure to write a one or two sentence summary of the key takeaway or answer. This will help you remember the work that you have done and make it easier to decide on a recommendation.
7. Decide on a recommendation
Once you have finished reading and analyzing all of the important and relevant material, you should have a list of key takeaways or answers to the major areas of your framework.
In this step, you’ll read through the key takeaways and decide on what recommendation they collectively support.
You should not expect every key takeaway to support your recommendation. Often, you’ll have key takeaways that support your recommendation, but also key takeaways that go against your recommendation.
If this is the case, you’ll need to mediate conflicting insights and decide on which insights are the most important. Remember that there is typically no right or wrong recommendation. As long as your recommendation is supported by data and evidence, you will be in great shape.
8. Structure your presentation slides
When you have decided on a recommendation and have the supporting data and evidence for it, you’ll want to create a structure for your presentation slides.
A simple, but effective structure you can use is:
- Slide 1: Present your recommendation and the three reasons that support it
- Slide 2: Present your first reason and the data that supports it
- Slide 3: Present your second reason and the data that supports it
- Slide 4: Present your third reason and the data that supports it
- Slide 5: Summarize everything that you’ve covered so far
- Slide 6: Present potential next steps
If the written case interview has already provided you with pre-filled slide templates, the structure of your presentation slides may already be decided for you. If not, you can incorporate the pre-filled slide templates into your overall presentation structure.
9. Fill in your slides
Once you have the structure of your presentation slides, the next step is to fill in the slides with content.
When filling in slides, make sure you use descriptive slide titles that clearly communicate the main message of the slide.
Additionally, try to make your slides easy to digest. Each slide should have one key message.
10. Review your slides and prepare for potential questions
If you have time remaining, review your slides one more time to check for any mistakes or errors. You can also spend some time cleaning up the slides to make them look neat and polished.
Afterwards, you can brainstorm potential questions the interviewer may ask you during your presentation. They may want to know how you performed your analysis or reached your conclusions. They may also challenge your assumptions or interpretations of the data.
Preparing for potential questions that could be asked will help your presentation go much more smoothly and you’ll feel much more confident while presenting.
The 10 Most Common Behavioral or Fit Interview Questions
In addition to case interviews, you will likely be asked a few behavioral or fit interview questions. There are ten questions that are most commonly asked.
1. Why are you interested in working at KPMG?
How to answer: Have at least three reasons why you’re interested in working at KPMG. You could mention that you loved the people that you have met from KPMG so far. You can talk about KPMG’s massive global presence and expertise in nearly every industry and function. You can speak to KPMG’s work culture and their emphasis on work life balance. Finally, you can mention their investment in their consultant’s professional development through their Continuing Professional Education (CPE) courses.
2. Why do you want to work in consulting?
How to answer: Again, have three reasons why you’re interested in consulting. You could mention the fast career growth opportunity, the opportunity to develop soft and hard skills, or the level of impact that you can make by working with large companies on their most challenging issues.
3. Walk me through your resume
How to answer: Provide a concise summary of your work experience, starting with the most recent. Focus on emphasizing your most impressive and unique accomplishments. At the end, tie your experiences to why you are interested in consulting.
4. What is your proudest achievement?
How to answer: Choose your most impressive, unique, or memorable accomplishment. Structure your answer by providing information on the situation, the task, the actions you took, and the results of your work.
5. What is something that you are proud of that is not on your resume?
How to answer: This is a great opportunity to highlight an accomplishment that is not related to your professional work experience. Perhaps there is a non-profit that you volunteer at, a side project or business that you work on, or a hobby that you have won awards or recognition for. Choose something that is impressive and interesting.
6. Tell me about a time when you led a team.
How to answer: If possible, choose a time when you directly managed a person or a team. For this question and the following questions, make sure that you structure your answer. Structure your answer by providing information on the situation, the task, the actions you took, and the results of your work. This is known as the STAR method and is commonly used to answer behavioral or fit interview questions.
7. Give an example of a time when you faced conflict or a disagreement.
How to answer: When answering this question, focus on emphasizing the steps you took to resolve the conflict or disagreement. Speak to the interpersonal skills you had to use in order to mediate the situation. Interviewers want to know that you are a great mediator and that you can handle conflict in a constructive way.
8. Tell me about a time when you had to persuade someone.
How to answer: Choose a time when you were able to change someone’s mind. Focus on emphasizing the steps that you took to persuade that person and what impact and results this had. Interviewers want to know that you are a great communicator and a good people person.
9. Describe a time when you failed.
How to answer: Choose a time when you failed to meet a deadline or did not meet expectations. Focus on emphasizing what you learned from the experience and how you used that experience to deliver even better results in the next opportunity that you got. Interviewers want to see that you don’t get discouraged from failure and that you treat those experiences as learning opportunities.
10. What questions do you have for me?
How to answer: This is a great opportunity to get to know the interviewer on a more personal level. Ask them questions about their experience in consulting or their career. Express genuine interest in what they have to show and ask follow-up questions. The more you can get the interviewer talking about themself, the more likely they will have a positive impression of you.
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