Smith and Williamson is one of the UK’s top ten accountancy firms, making it a great place to begin your career. The firm’s graduate scheme has an intake of about 40 new graduates a year so competition throughout the multi-stage application process is tough. In order to be able to compete fully with all this competition it is imperative to be fully aware of how you can improve your performance.
The online application for Smith and Williamson can be lengthy as it asks for basic details as well as short answer competency questions. The firm wants to get as much information about you to help them make this first decision. For the competency questions, you have a 250 word limit so ensure that you give short answers that are to the point. Review the firm’s competencies before you begin answering and a useful tool is the STAR method to help structure your answers. The HR team has many applications to sort through and if you can make good, strong points concisely, your application will stand out.
Some of the questions you are asked are:
There are a few key competencies at Smith and Williamson that you should keep in mind when answering these questions. The more you integrate these values into your writing, the more Smith and Williamson will want to hire you. They are:
If you have completed the online application form to the recruitment team’s satisfaction, you are next asked to complete online CEB’s SHL verbal and numerical reasoning tests.
The Smith and Williamson numerical reasoning test is used to measure your ability to interpret data presented in a text, graph or table form. As well as this, they are used to assess your critical reasoning skills and mathematical abilities. Get a head start in your preparation by using our SHL-style numerical reasoning practice tests.
The Smith and Williamson verbal reasoning test allows you 20 minutes to answer 20 questions. You are assessed on your verbal understanding skills as well as your ability to work under time pressure. This test is usually in a true, false, cannot say format, asking you to assess the validity of a statement based on the text. Learn to ace this test with SHL-style verbal reasoning practice tests.
Following a good performance on the aptitude tests, you will be contacted by the firm to arrange a time for a telephone interview. It is conducted by a member of the HR team and is about an hour long. You are asked many varied questions, on your knowledge of the company, your motivations for working for them as opposed to one of the Big four, and quite a few different competency questions. Have a copy of your CV and application in front of you during the interview to remind you of previous answers. Give yourself a boost by having a mock interview via our interview preparation package.
If you have done well enough in the earlier stages, you will be invited to the Smith and Williamson assessment centre. This is a fairly long day starting at approximately 9:45 in the morning and only finishing at 3:30 in the afternoon. The day includes an informal lunch with some other graduates and during which you can get to know more about the inner workings of the company. These are the different types of assessments that you can expect on the day:
You are first asked to sit paper versions of the verbal and numerical reasoning tests you took online to confirm your results are valid. You need to pass these tests in order to make it to the next stage of the assessment day. These tests are more difficult than the previous tests so it is therefore important to make sure you are up to scratch on these skills.
In this part of the Smith and Williamson assessment day you are placed in a small group of candidates. Each person is given the same case study brief to review individually. During this time you should come up with a few different ways to resolve the issue. In the next stage, everyone comes together to discuss the brief and their individual ideas. At this point you must come to a resolution as a group based on your discussion and create a proposal. During this exercise you are assessed on how you work in a team and whether you are able communicate clearly. Remind yourself of the key competencies and try to bring them into the work you are doing. Brush up on your teamwork skills with our group exercise practice pack.
In-Tray exercises are used to evaluate your ability to multitask and prioritise different tasks that need to be taken care of in a short space of time. It is essentially a simulation where you are given a lot of data to work your way through under severe time constraints and consequently make rationalised decisions about each task. Learn to manage your time and work efficiently with our in-tray practice pack.
If you do well in the assessment centre you will move to the final interview.
The final interview is in the office with leader of the team you will be working for. It is sometimes done in two stages, with the first stage focusing on competencies and the second on your commercial awareness. Otherwise you have one interview with two focuses. Your competency answers are still important at this final stage. For commercial awareness, Smith and Williamson are looking for well informed candidates who really know the field. This involves a lot of research on your part so make sure you get to it. You should also come prepared with questions for the interviewer to show that you are interested. Be prepared to ace the interview with our Face-to-Face interview pack.
With proper preparation and practise you will be able to perform to your utmost and give yourself the best chance of landing a job in the Smith and Williamson graduate scheme. This article has given advice on the application process and useful practice resources Good Luck.