We like EY (formerly Ernst & Young). First, the professional services firm came out to support fair pay for interns. Next, we realised they are way ahead of the curve on complex and sensitive issues like diversity, social mobility, disability and mental health.

They’ve just opened their graduate scheme, so if you’re interested in a grown-up job at company that’s ‘proper’ but un-stuffy, check them out. They welcome graduate with all degrees, from all backgrounds. And you needn’t be box-fresh from uni this summer – they accept applications from those who graduated a few years ago too. Graduate Fog spoke to Julie Stanbridge, EY’s Head of Student Recruitment, to find out what her team looks for in applicants for their graduate programmes…

Graduate Fog: What does EY actually do?
Julie Stanbridge, EY: We help the world’s most high profile companies and organisations through our four service lines: Advisory, Assurance, Transaction Advisory Services and Tax.

We’re sort-of with you… What can graduates expect if they join EY?
Don’t worry — we know it takes a bit of time to get used to the language. Our four service lines are quite different. Build a career in Advisory and you be helping clients across a range of industries improve their performance and solve complex business problems. It’s a fast-moving, high growth area that reflects the challenges and uncertainty of today’s world.

Choose a career in Assurance and help play a vital role in the world’s economy. We provide companies and regulators with a reliable voice about their financial status or processes, and we help clients make decisions about environmental policies, management systems as well as investigating fraud.

Our Transaction Advisory Services team shows businesses how they can raise, optimise, preserve and invest capital. We perform strategic, commercial and financial analysis of companies’ involvement in a variety of transactions.

A career in Tax means you’re helping your clients navigate the myriad of tax regulations across international borders. We help companies to balance competing priorities, ensuring they maintain compliance while enabling growth.

What qualifications do graduates need, in order to apply to EY?
The exact qualifications you’ll need depend slightly on the programme you apply for. However, most of our graduate vacancies require at least 300 (24) UCAS points or equivalent (obtained in the same year, excluding General Studies and re-sits), Grade B or above in GCSE Mathematics and English Language and a 2:1 honours degree (predicted or obtained).

In exceptional circumstances, we’ll accept applications from people who don’t quite meet our academic benchmark. So, if there’s a good reason why you just missed the mark on any of the requirements listed, we may still consider your application.

So graduates don’t need to have studied business, finance or accountancy?
No. Only a small number of our positions require a specific degree, and for the majority of our programmes, we welcome applicants from all degree backgrounds. It’s your intellectual ability and natural strengths that matter to us. Some of our highest achievers have studied subjects totally unrelated to the work they do.

What are ‘natural strengths’? Do you mean skills and personality?
Yes. We look for people who are curious about business; are willing and able to offer a different perspective; can work well in teams as well as individually; and can also demonstrate a high work ethic. High performing teams are diverse, so we welcome applicants from all backgrounds.

We aren’t only looking for high academic achievers. We also want you to demonstrate leadership through extra-curricular activities and community involvement. We look for evidence that you are good at listening, learning, sharing, developing and working with others, including those who are different from you. We want you to have a clear sense of personal and professional accountability and to show you are committed to doing the right thing.

We also look for people who recognize the value of different backgrounds and points of view. By respecting these differences, we enrich our perspectives which helps us to build strong relationships and enhance the services we provide to our clients. And we want you to be passionate and excited about the opportunities at EY and what your future holds.

EY logo

When and how should graduates apply for your graduate programmes?
Our graduate vacancies open on 1 July every year. You can find more details about all our programmes on our website, which is also where you apply. You needn’t be a new graduate — we are very happy to accept applications from individuals who graduated a few years ago too.

What stages does your application process involve?
The first stage is an online application form and an online strengths assessment. The form is your chance to tell us about yourself and your achievements to date. The strengths assessment will ask you to read a series of scenarios and then choose how you would respond in each scenario. The questions will require you to select one response, or rank your responses in order. Try our sample strengths test to get an idea of what to expect.

And if a graduate gets through that?
Providing you are successful at the application stage, you will be required to complete an online psychometric test which tests your verbal, numeric and diagrammatic reasoning ability. Next, you will be invited to attend an interview that will ask you to demonstrate your strengths and your motivation for joining EY. We want to get to know you, so relax and be yourself. The final stage is an assessment centre. Here, you will take part in various activities such as a team meeting, a written report and an interview. This will give you a better feel for EY and helps us learn more about you.

What if a graduate needs extra support or time?
That’s no problem. We encourage applicants to tell us about their disability and any reasonable adjustments they may require throughout the recruitment process and / or in the workplace. This will enable us to provide sufficient and appropriate support to candidates throughout the process.

Do you respond to all applications, whether successful or unsuccessful?
Yes, we do. We don’t have time to respond with verbal feedback to everybody as we have over 20,000 applications every year, so this would take up a huge amount of time as you can imagine! But we do respond to every applicant and provide personal and specific feedback at certain stages of our recruitment process.

Julie Stanbridge
“High performing teams are diverse,
so we welcome applicants from all backgrounds.”

Julie Stanbridge, EY’s Head of Student Recruitment

Any tips for standing out at application stage?
We look for applicants who can demonstrate that they have gone above and beyond. Examples of leadership are welcome but demonstrating positions of responsibility of any kind. Whether it’s leading the charge on raising money for a local charity or organising an event at a summer job, these can all help at the application stage.

What wows you in an interview?
A graduate who is passionate about a career in business and believes in themself and what they want to achieve. Also someone who can demonstrate focus, ambition, energy and enthusiasm. Before your interview, learn as much as you can about EY: who we are, our services, strategic direction and our vision for the years ahead. Make sure you can articulate how your strengths and career goals are aligned with ours, and why you think you’ll succeed in our organization.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was first published on Graduate Fog in 2014. Since then, some small or very specific details may have changed, so please double check them on EY’s own website before you apply. Thanks – and good luck!

What’s more important — knowing the right answers or handling the questions well?
Handling the questions well. No-one has all the right answers all of the time. That’s why we focus heavily on the value of team work — the ‘two brains are better than one’ idea. We work with some of the world’s most complex businesses so dealing with challenges effectively and solving problems dictates our success. Try to relax and remember that we’re interested in the real you: Our interviewers are trained to get the best from you. We know interviews can be stressful, but we want you to enjoy it. Listen carefully to each question and take time to think about your best answer.

How to get a graduate job at EY

What is a great question for graduates to ask at the end of their interview?
Don’t just have one question, prepare a list! Remember that for us, the recruitment process is two-way so this is your time to decide if we are the right employer for you — are we the right place for you to launch your career? Ask us about our organization, our clients, the opportunities we can offer you and what you can expect from us. A question around business strategy is always a powerful and insightful question too. Knowing where the business is going is important and how you might fit into that.

Any tips for impressing at assessment centres?
Be clear on the task, listen to others’ views in group exercises, offer opinions and — most importantly — be yourself.

What’s the most common mistake graduates make when applying to EY?
There is no real pattern to the mistakes graduates make. I guess one simple piece of advice that sometimes graduates don’t take is to read up on and to understand what the business does. Graduates need to understand what an organisation’s main competitors do too so they grasp an understanding of the wider market place and challenges that a business may be facing within that industry.

Where are your graduate jobs based?
Our proximity to our clients can be critical to the service we provide them. That’s why we operate from 20 offices across the UK. When you apply for a graduate programme, you’ll choose a location where you will primarily be based. However, depending on client needs, you may need to temporarily relocate for projects so we ask that you be flexible.

What salary can a graduate expect?
We offer a competitive salary in line with expectations for a graduate job in the industry. However we also offer a variety of perks and benefits including:

– A graduate loan: up to £7,000 interest-free, repayable through your salary over 48 months
– Holiday: starting at 25 days a year
– Interest-free season ticket loan
– Personal accident insurance
– Life assurance
– Illness pay and prolonged disability insurance
– Leisure facilities (at some offices)
– Subsidised restaurants (at some offices)
– An online discounts and concierge service

As well as other flexible benefits such as a pension scheme, travel insurance, private health and dental insurance and bike and health and wellbeing benefits.

What is the best thing about having a graduate job at EY?
It’s got to be the exposure to working on the most demanding business challenges, with some of the world’s biggest companies — which may even give you the opportunity to work internationally. You’ll get to ensure we provide the best possible service for our clients share your thoughts and ideas with other talented and motivated individuals and to contribute your ideas to. We are also committed to your personal development throughout your time here, with learning and coaching support to hone your business skills and to help you succeed in your career.

Click here to visit the firm’s careers website

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