“SHOW US YOU’RE A TEAM PLAYER WITH ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT”
The Deloitte graduate programme is one of the most popular and prestigious graduate schemes in the UK.
So, it may surprise you to learn that the top professional services firm — which advises companies on business issues like tax, strategy, technology and risk — wants to hear from great applicants from all backgrounds, with a good degree from any university.
The Deloitte graduate programme is the first years of a permanent job with the firm. It includes world-class training and plenty of on-the-job practical experience. Once you’ve been accepted on to the Deloitte graduate scheme, you’ll get to work with big clients on major projects, such as a multi-billion pound sale of a household-name business or using robotics to transform a bank’s customer relations. The projects are as varied as the clients they serve. You’ll get to work alongside great people and feel valued for the unique contribution you make and the fresh ideas you bring. Deloitte are actively seeking the people who think differently, so they’ll positively encourage your creativity and expect you to bring your true self to work.
So what exactly does it take to be accepted on to the Deloitte Graduate Programme? Graduate Fog asked Neil Cooper, Deloitte’s Candidate Engagement Advisor, for his advice and tips for bagging your place on the scheme…
Graduate Fog: First things first, what does Deloitte actually do?
Neil Cooper, Deloitte: We are one of the UK’s biggest business advisory firms, advising our clients on business issues affecting their productivity and profitability. Examples of our areas of expertise are tax, technology, strategy, people, risk, and mergers and acquisitions (when one firm buys another firm).
How is the Deloitte graduate programme structured — and what’s involved?
Our scheme is carefully structured to give you what you need, when you need it. During this time, you will pursue a professional qualification, take part in a dedicated training scheme and go through a structured development programme. By the end of the programme, you’ll have a broad spread of technical and client relationship skills. You’ll also have begun to develop — and apply — amazing business insights, thanks to hands-on experience, early responsibility (we don’t micro-manage) and the chance to learn from our industry-leading figures. We’ll fund your exams and you’ll be earning a market-leading salary at the same time. It’s an incredible way to go as far as you want.
Is there just one Deloitte Graduate Programme that everyone applies to?
No, there are nine different programmes: Audit and Finance; Business & Financial Advisory; Cyber; Governance, Risk & Regulation; Human Capital; Real Estate; Strategy and Operations; Tax Consulting; and Technology. Each one offers unique training and different professional qualifications to pursue. You should pick the area that most inspires you and will make the most of your skills, so have a dig around on our website to find out more. You’ll need to decide this before you apply. And the more you can show what motivates you, the better your chances of getting hired. We’re here to guide you if you’re unsure which programme is right for you. Come to an insight day or contact us for a chat.
What sort of applicants are you most keen to hear from?
We are very much open to any and all graduate candidates who meet the criteria for the position they’ve applied for. We really value diversity in our people, because it’s all kinds of different thinking that will help us solve our clients’ problems. Of course, we look for set attributes and qualities in our candidates, typically this includes strong team players, candidates who demonstrate good commercial awareness, a strong customer/client focus, and finally entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to really add value.
What do new joiners to the Deloitte Graduate Programme actually do? Is it real work?
Yes, it’s real work! From the moment you join, you’ll be treated as a business advisor, valued for the unique contribution you make and the fresh ideas you bring. You’ll work directly with clients on projects that have a very real and meaningful impact on their success. All of our projects are about problem solving, which we think happens best when we work collaboratively. Throughout your graduate training and entire career, you’ll connect with colleagues across different teams, to tackle the trickiest challenges for our clients. As well as gaining a recognised professional qualification, you’ll develop the kind of rounded business skills that will serve you well regardless of where your future takes you.
When should students and graduates apply?
Many of our applicants are in their penultimate year of their undergraduate degree, but the Deloitte graduate programme is also open to those who have already graduated and are already working, or who are currently studying for a Masters. We recommend that you start your application process in September-November, as this is when we receive the majority of our graduate applications; and we wouldn’t want you to miss out on your first choice of role. But we continue to advertise our remaining roles during the course of the year, so it’s always worth checking our website.
What does the application process involve?
The first stage is an online application. This is where you detail your academic background, including grades obtained or predicted. You also answer questions that show your motivation, including why you’ve chosen to apply to Deloitte, and why you want to pursue a particular role or work in a particular department. Our student recruitment team reviews all applications independently against our criteria.
What happens next?
If you meet the requirements, we’ll ask you to take part in several online assessments, including a new gamification-based exercise. It’s a special psychometric test that highlights certain personality traits, such as your ability to innovate. It helps us to get an objective view of how you think and you get a personalised feedback report.
We will then ask you to complete an exercise that allows us to assess your situational strengths, numerical reasoning and verbal critical reasoning ability. Succeed in these exercises and you’ll be asked to attend a first stage assessment. Depending on the role/department, this can include a group exercise, an interview and/or case study. Finally, if you’re successful in these face-to-face assessments, you’ll attend a final stage interview, which will include a presentation (details are provided in advance).
Are there any minimum academic requirements for graduates wishing to apply to Deloitte?
Yes, some of our schemes have specific requirements such as outstanding mathematical or technology skills, but this varies according to which programme you’re applying for. Likewise, for some programmes we’ll ask that you have a degree from a particular discipline but for others we accept graduates who have studied any subject. Check our website before submitting your application, to make sure your qualifications match the requirements of the scheme you’re applying for.
Does it matter where an applicant studied? Some big employers can be snobbish about people who haven’t been to the ‘right’ universities.
No, it doesn’t matter at all. We consider every application entirely on merit, regardless of where the person studied. In addition, our recruitment process allows us to consider the context in which your academic achievements have been gained by taking into account your background and personal circumstances.
Where are Deloitte’s graduate roles based?
It depends on the programme you go for. Many will be London-based, but opportunities are available in 23 offices across the UK. Opportunities to work abroad are more likely once you’ve qualified.
What happens at the end of the Deloitte Graduate Programme? Does everyone get a permanent job?
Yes. This is a permanent job that’s all about progression. Once you show us how talented and dedicated you are, you’re welcome to stay on in your team or move to a different area of our business. You’ll have lots of options. The scheme is aimed at giving you a rounded professional experience and the confidence to go wherever you want to take your career.
What training is offered?
Our programme for graduates is all about learning and development, but — as you’d expect — the specific training you’ll get depends on the kind of role you choose. As well as time off to revise for your professional qualifications, there’s focused classroom study and e-learning opportunities. You’ll also receive the technical and skills training you need to move your career on further down the line. And remember there is also the invaluable experience of working on live projects. And we’ll do everything we can to help you succeed and lead as an expert in your field. After all, it’s our expertise that our clients pay for.
What about support and mentoring?
Deloitte’s graduates receive lots of support, including one-to-one coaching and designated Deloitte appraisers and mentors, who will share their knowledge, skills and insights to help you develop. There will be regular check-ins while you’re working and studying, and even more support in the run-up to exams. You’ll also be assigned your own ‘buddy’ who will help you settle in.
Back to Deloitte’s recruitment procedure… Do you respond to all applications, whether successful or unsuccessful?
Yes we do. Regardless of the outcome of any assessment, we’ll respond. This is true at every stage of the Deloitte selection process. And we aim to get back to you 3-5 working days after you’ve completed the assessment.
Any tips for standing out at application stage?
The application form is your first opportunity to shine, as you can tell us a little about yourself. We don’t expect you to be an expert, but candidates who stand out are those that show evidence of having researched the firm and that they have a good understanding of the role they’ve applied for and the professional qualifications associated with the role.
What makes a CV or application go into the Yes pile?
Firstly, you’ll need to meet the criteria for the role. We then review your answers on your application form. What we really like to see are clear motivations for applying to Deloitte and the role. A very strong application will also include details on any research you’ve done into the role, industry or area you’ve applied for, and how it aligns to your career objectives.
What wows you in a graduate interview?
Deloitte interviews are conducted against a set framework and you’ll need to be able to demonstrate specific attributes. Successful candidates are able to provide strong examples and, even more importantly, show a lot of energy and enthusiasm, and the ability to talk the interviewer clearly through their reasons for applying. It also helps if you can show an understanding of the industry group you’ve applied for (for example, your knowledge of the financial services sector, or cyber security issues), and a good working knowledge of this area. If you have an opinion on any changes in the industry, share it; this will really give the interviewer confidence that you’ve given the opportunity a lot of consideration.
What’s more important — knowing the right answers or handling the questions well?
In an interview environment both are important. Of course, an accurate answer will have an impact on the assessment. Typically, we want to see that you not only understand the question, but can also demonstrate communication skills by handling the question in a professional manner.
What is a great question for graduates to ask at the end of their interview?
An interview is very much a two-way process and we urge any candidate to use this opportunity to find out more about the role, firm, department, culture, or anything else they want to know. It’s a great way to build rapport with your interviewer too. If nothing else springs to mind, we suggest asking the interviewer about their own personal journey and career highlights. This not only builds a good relationship with the interviewer, it also shows them your interest.
Any tips for impressing at assessment centres?
Coming to our assessment centre is your chance to show us your strengths and you’ll be given plenty of opportunities to do so. During assessment, it’s important to show your ability to build relationships and work within a team, to demonstrate evidence of your research into the role and firm, and show us an understanding of the industry. And, of course, your motivations for the role!
What is the most common mistake graduates make when applying for a job at Deloitte?
There are a variety of different reasons for an unsuccessful application. But the most common comes at online assessment stage. The error often made here is not taking advantage of any practice exercises. We tend to find that candidates who have practised have a much greater chance of being successful.
Do you offer feedback to unsuccessful applicants?
We provide feedback for candidates in two key areas of our selection process: online assessments and the final interview. If you complete our online assessments, whether you’re successful or unsuccessful, we will send you a feedback report. We offer personalised feedback to every candidate that has reached the final stage of our selection process, to support them with any future interviews. This is a discussion that covers the areas in which they performed well and any that need development.
GRADUATE CASE STUDY: “I FELT INCLUDED FROM DAY ONE”
Name: Jess Holden
Degree: Combined Honours in Arts (History and Economics), Durham University
Graduated: June 2016
Joined Deloitte: September 2016
Job title: Associate Financial Services Audit
What does your day-to-day role involve?
I work as part of one of the larger teams in Deloitte’s Edinburgh office, auditing an investment management company. Day-to-day I am out at the client site, with the rest of the team. I started with no prior audit experience, but everyone was willing to find time to explain things, and answer any questions. We have regular catch-ups within the team to check on everyone’s process, which made me feel included from day one. Importantly, Deloitte’s graduates interact with clients right from the start of the programme. It’s great to know that work you’re doing is actually contributing to the wider audit.
Did you feel ready to be working with clients on real projects so soon after joining?
It may sound daunting, but everyone is supportive and will make sure you’re prepared to go to the client with any issues. The good thing about working on such a big team is that you are always learning, and can pick up new skills as you go along. So far I’ve also spent 50% of my time at ICAS [the Instituted of Chartered Accountants of Scotland] studying for my chartered accountancy exams. Deloitte is really supportive of this, and I get to pretend I’m still a student for a little while longer!
Why did you choose to apply to Deloitte?
I applied to Deloitte at the start of my final year at Durham University, as the challenge of working for a company at the top of its game particularly appealed. Then the more research I did about the firm throughout the application process, the more I found it to be a friendly and approachable place that really cared about its people. I felt working for Deloitte would not only be the initial challenge I hoped for, but would also help me develop my skills and forge a successful career long-term.
How did you find Deloitte’s application process?
The application process was fast and fairly straightforward in comparison to others I’ve experienced. I found a lot of guidance on the Deloitte website, which helped me answer the initial application questions. Once I’d got through the first few rounds of online tests, the process was all with real people at the Edinburgh Office.
What were your interviews like?
The manager at my interview was friendly and put me at ease straight away. It felt they really wanted to get to know me, and answered all my questions about the firm and the role. For the Partner interview I had to prepare a PowerPoint presentation on audit rotation. At first this seemed a little daunting. But again, in reality, I found the Partner to be friendly and approachable and interested in the points I put forward. The rest of the interview was relaxed and chatty, which gave me a good impression of the welcoming nature of the firm. Importantly, I heard back after each round the very next day. And, when I was eventually offered a place on the Deloitte graduate programme, the manager who conducted my first round interview reached out to congratulate me personally. It was a small but nice touch that gave me a really good feeling about joining Deloitte.
What advice would you give to graduates considering applying to Deloitte?
Make sure you do your research, but no-one’s expecting you to know everything about Deloitte or the role. The important thing is just to be yourself, and show your enthusiasm for the role you’re applying for. And don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer questions.
What do you like most about working at Deloitte?
The people are what makes it. Both as a year group of grads, and within my team, the people have been welcoming, approachable and friendly. Like any job, we sometimes have to work long hours, but the team spirit is always high. Working for a large company such as Deloitte also has the social benefits too. Whether it is team drinks, an office-wide 10k or even touch rugby, there’s always something going on.
What’s your next step from here?
Once I’ve qualified, I plan to take advantage of the global nature of Deloitte; hopefully taking part in the secondment programme that offers the chance to work in other offices across the world. After that I am unsure, but I know that whatever happens there are so many different opportunities available within Deloitte itself. I am also confident that the skills I have developed so far, and will continue to develop throughout my time at Deloitte, will provide numerous opportunities to further my career in the future.
EDITORIAL NOTE: This article was written in partnership with Deloitte, and a small fee was paid. Graduate Fog only works with firms that sign up to our ‘Good Guy Guarantee’, including a promise that they 1) pay all their staff at least the National Minimum Wage (including interns), 2) are committed to diversity and social mobility, and 3) operate fair, open and accessible recruitment practices. Deloitte happily agreed to all three immediately, so we are very proud to welcome them to Graduate Fog.