What to expect on a Deloitte assessment day

Thursday 10 May 2012 @ 2:55 pm

Attended one of these assessment days recently and passed so I thought I’d share the experience to help other candidates who might be called.

It’s a whole day affair (lunch is provided) that starts with a short 30 minute presentation about Deloitte and what distinguishes it from its competitors. You’re then given individual timetables that tell you who you will be meeting and when and what you need to do to prepare. Everyone’s timetable is different so some will immediately begin with their interviews whilst others will be scheduled to start the other exercises. However, there’s absolutely no need to stick to the schedule for preparation, as long as you are ready for the interviews you’re free to manage your own time however you see fit. Everyone stays in the same room with materials provided but the individual interviews and presentations are done privately.

There are four areas of assessment that each carries equal weight although Deloitte claim it’s vital you do well at the group exercise. The four assessments are a written essay, partner interview, presentation followed by a further competency based interview and finally the group discussion.

You’re given 1 hour for the written assessment which involves a case study about a pharmaceuticals firm called Medicare who are implementing an ERP system (called Project 2) as part of a business transformation project in the USA. Deloitte have been hired to evaluate Project 2 and advise Medicare on the rollout of a similar ERP system across Europe. The material consists of a presentation given to the senior management at Medicare by Deloitte and the written assessment is to summarise this succinctly using full sentences and narrative for distribution to the Medicare managers. You need to pull in all the salient info whilst ensuring sensitive data is not revealed and you’re limited by ensuring it all fits into two pages.

The partner interview is straightforward enough and allocated 45 minutes. You will have already been interviewed previously and made a good impression which is why you were invited back for the assessment day. As long as you show enthusiasm and know the obvious stuff such as what Deloitte is all about along with the business area you want to join and the role specifics with relevant examples of your own experience, this should pose no problem.

A lot of people worry about presentations but I actually enjoyed this one the most. Candidates may be given different case studies depending upon the role and seniority of the job they’re being assessed for but I think the main theme is consistent which is how Deloitte is able to help the organisation. You’re allocated 1 hour to prepare a 10 minute presentation (no more than 6 slides) and then a further 45 minutes for the actual presentation followed by a Q&A session.

My case study was for a soft drinks company facing a myriad of problems such as increased competition from more agile competitors, poor data quality, distributed production centres and legacy systems that hindered the supply chain. The objective is to come up with a short presentation (using flipcharts) describing how Deloitte can tackle these problems and the opportunities it presents. It’s an individual exercise so your audience is another partner, different from the other interview, and the aim here is to test how well you communicate and structure your ideas as well as your business acumen. The presentation and Q&A session is followed by a further competency based interview where you will be questioned about your skills and experience.

The final exercise lasts around 45 minutes and is a group discussion which is by far and away the most stupid, pointless and self defeating part of the whole day. It’s not hard to see why either. The case study is a fictitious community led by a group of “Elders” who are trying to find ways to save money. They’ve come up with a list of initiatives, each of which saves the same amount of money, but each of which has very different repercussions (e.g. ban drinking, cut health care, kill all pets). Candidates are given 10 minutes to individually prioritise the initiatives beforehand by writing them down and then use the remainder of the time to discuss, as a group, how they would rank the same initiatives. The actual assessment starts when the group discussion begins and the aim is to ensure that at least 3 of your top 5 rankings are somewhere in the groups collective top 5 rankings.

However, with the Deloitte assessors watching, the whole thing rapidly falls apart as candidates quickly realise that the group exercise is actually competitive and the only thing that counts is who can make their voice heard, irrespective of whether or not a valid point is being made and whether or not their rankings are in the top 5. If you’ve ever watched The Apprentice, it’s like that only much worse because you actually have to take part in this cringeworthy nonsense. The group exercise proves absolutely nothing useful because when you have several people all trying to make their point and talking over each other, the only thing that can be assessed is quantity not quality. And further proof of how futile this absurd group exercise is comes at the end when the Deloitte assessors merely ask for a show of hands to gauge how many people successfully got their rankings in the top 5 without bothering to collect the actual recorded answers.

So in short then, enjoy the day, it’s worth attending for practice even if the Deloitte job on offer isn’t what you want but definitely watch out for the stupid bloody group exercise which is an utterly pointless albeit necessary sideshow.