What is TalentLens aptitude test used by Deloitte?

What is TalentLens reasoning aptitude test?

TalentLens aptitude tests are getting more common every day. Getting hired by the best companies is a long and hard journey as they make sure to add multiple steps to remove undesirable candidates and narrow their selection down as much as possible so that the ones left are the ones needed. For you, applying properly is just the tip of the iceberg.

If you have passed the initial interview, companies like Deloitte will forward you to their next recruitment step: the TalentLens reasoning and aptitude tests. Considering you have made it this far there is no reason to be scared, but preparation is essential to pass. By reaching the aptitude test, there is a good and a bad thing you should know: the competition narrows down which is a good thing, but the quality of the candidates left makes the selection even more competitive. By now around half of the applicants are gone and you are left with the best half.

The stage two of the selection process is undertaking numerical, critical thinking and verbal reasoning tests created by TalentLens. The specifics of them depend on your specific service line.

The Preparations

Usually you are given one or two weeks to take the test. The TalentLens aptitude and reasoning tests are time-limited to make sure you can withstand pressure and keep situations in line with what you will be facing in the company. Passing the tests ensure that you will be fully confident and competent during the real thing, avoiding embarrassment for you and your prospective employer in the future.

The Structure

The common TalentLens tests as fielded by different companies like Deloitte, E. L. Goldberg & Associates and others are presented in two or three different parts.

  1. The numerical part. This part focuses on data such as graphs and different charts. For every scenario, you will be presented around three questions leading to a total of 21 questions usually. The time limit of this part is thirty minutes – more than enough to answer everything, look through and check again. In this part you are expected to demonstrate your ability with figures, analytical skills and time management.
  1. The critical thinking part. This part is a series of short passages with written information. You are expected to analyse and evaluate every single one of the written passages in search of the logical answers. There will be five answer sections in total, comprised of Assumptions, Arguments, Deductions, Inferences and Interpret information. Altogether there are 40 questions with the same given time limit of 30 minutes. In this part you are expected to demonstrate your creativity, problem solving and analysis skills.
  1. There may be a verbal reasoning part. If you face one, this is not something you should worry about. Here you will be given a series of statements to which you have to reply True, False or Cannot Say. There will be around three questions per scenario leading to a total of 20 questions. Unlike the other two parts, you are only given twenty five minutes in total. You are expected to make your business judgement and problem solving skills shine through.

You can take TalentLens tests online to practice your skills and get accustomed to their format. Just like any interview step, focus, preparation and will are essential to go through and get ahead of the competition.

How to pass Saville Aptitude tests

Saville Swift aptitude tests and others are becoming more and more common in the recruitment process, but remember: they are nothing to be afraid of.

Aptitude tests are something companies which want to get the very best employees resort to, and companies that use the Saville Swift aptitude tests include market giants such as Johnson & Johnson, NAB, Westpack, ANZ and Ramsted.

Considering how much of a very long and complex journey it is to be chosen and hired by any company of similar caliber, the Saville Swift aptitude tests are just another passing stone to weed out the weaker candidates and keep the ones who have what it takes. The aptitude test usually comes right after the initial interview part, making up the stage two of the recruitment process.

What is in the Saville Swift aptitude test?

An aptitude test is a test based on verbal, numerical and diagrammatic/abstract subtests. The difference between a Saville Swift Aptitude Test and your regular Aptitude test is that the Saville versions tends to have many different types of Aptitude tests rather than one major type. Time-wise, the Saville Swift tests are also shorter than others, but that does not make it any easier, so please make sure to be prepared and very confident.

The Swift Executive Aptitude is given to candidates who are aiming for high level roles. Applicants seeking positions like directors, managers, professionals are sure to face this variant. The test measures critical reasoning through short verbal, numerical and diagrammatic sub-tests. All of these subsections are applicable to all high-level positions. Altogether, the sections take six minutes each which will be more than enough to answer all questions correctly. Do not waste time though!

The Swift Analysis Aptitude is made for managers, professionals, technicians and graduates. It also goes through short verbal, numerical and diagrammatic sub-tests which are all six minutes long and are suitable for all high-level roles.

The Swift Comprehension Aptitude is taken by candidates going for operational, commercial, customer and administrative staff positions. The test is shorter than the other ones as it goes through short verbal and numerical which are 4 minutes long each and error checking which will only be 2 minutes long. This test is suitable for all entry-level roles, but it requires the same attention and preparation as the others.

The Swift Technical Aptitude test is given to those who wish to pursue production work, like apprentices, engineers, designers and scientists working in technical roles. The test measures practical reasoning through short spatial and mechanical which both take 3 minutes each and diagrammatic which takes 4 minutes. This Aptitude test goes for all practical roles.

The Swift  Apprentice Aptitude is designed for use with apprentices or entry level staff in operational, technical, engineering, manufacturing and construction roles. The test measures technical and general reasoning through short sub-tests which are verbal and numerical both taking 4 minutes each, checking which will take 90 seconds, spatial and mechanical which is 3 minutes, diagrammatic 4 minutes. This test is suitable for all practical roles.

How to crack the Saville Swift tests?

Considering the wide variety of tests you can face when applying for a company which uses the Saville Swift aptitude tests, it is hard to give a specific recipe to success for each one of them. That being said, the solution to all applicants in these fields is very simple and straightforward: be prepared, always. As a great general once said, hard training makes easy work.

 You can find a myriad of online variations of these tests. Study the aspects of the one which best apply to you, and run them through while keeping an eye out for your weaknesses. Work on them before the actual test, and you are set for success at what can be your new workplace.

SHL vs Kenexa reasoning tests: what are the differences?

Kenexa (formerly PSL) and SHL are two very similar aptitude tests you are very likely to encounter if you apply for a graduate job, with more and more companies turning towards them to find the strongest candidates imaginable from the pool.

As an applicant there is nothing to be scared of, but it is always very important to be fully prepared for what lies ahead of you as your knowledge and skills will be put to test.

Generally, online aptitude tests come after the initial screening such as the application stage once the company weeds out the candidates which are surely not suitable, and aims to assess the individual’s maximum ability in the attributes that have been identified as important for a success role. Many companies are fielding SHL and Kenexa aptitude tests, and even if they have been created by different companies they have very few differences between each other.

Both SHL and Kenexa tests are, in practical terms, extremely similar as companies use them for the same purpose and using the same methods. They are relatively simple aptitude tests, which assess the necessary skills of an applicant.

SHL is a leading brand when it comes to not only aptitude tests but also different types of psychometric tests, and they are widely used by many different organisations. In terms of aptitude tests, SHL offers a wide range of different models but the main ones consist of numerical, verbal and logical abstract reasoning – the very same tests Kenexa offers. Kenexa on the other hand is a major provider focused on assessment tools which is also a very popular choice for a multitude of brands looking to hire new employees.

Both Kenexa and SHL are equally popular, yet have their differences which we will cover below.

A format overview

Generally speaking, both companies create tests split in three main categories. Others may be added  for specific jobs, but these are guaranteed to be there.

  • Numerical reasoning: This is designed to test your ability to understand and use numerical data, usually displayed in a graph or table. Here the candidate uses the information available to proceed and answer the questions. Kenexa gives its clients a bank of 174 different numerical type questions from which 20 are drawn and will be given to the candidate, who has a time margin of 20 minutes to answer all of them. SHL offers 18 questions which take 17 to 25 minutes to complete, as well as another 10 questions for verification purposes (at the Assessment Centre) which require another 14 to 15 minutes to complete.
  • Verbal reasoning: this is another type of test which both companies have to offer. Verbal reasoning tests evaluate the candidate’s ability to understand and critically evaluate passages of written information. Kenexa gives 20 minutes for the candidate to answer 24 questions, as there will be a paragraph of information followed by a statement. The statements will either be false, true or unable to say depending on the situation. SHL gives 30 questions first with 17 to 19 minutes to complete, then a second part of 18 questions with 11 minutes to complete.
  • Logical abstract reasoning: Here Kenexa gives applicants a series of shapes and symbols, where you will need to select the missing pattern in the sequence. They test a candidate’s ability to make correct conclusions and assumptions using the information which is provided. These are becoming more popular in the job application process. SHL also does these kind of tests, but theirs is made up of 24 questions with a total of 25 minutes to complete. Afterwards an additional 7 are given with a time limit of seven minutes.

The verdict

Although being extremely similar, you have probably noticed that Kenexa is fond of throwing an enormous amount of questions at its applicants. On top of that, the time given for applicants to answer Kenexa questions is markedly smaller. Having said that, if you face a Kenexa test, you will have the benefit of going back and forth as needed. Make use of this whenever possible to ensure all your answers are correct before moving on.

Numerous online tests are available from different sources including Kenexa and SHL themselves. However, if you want a proper test preparation packs with ebooks and tutorial videos then you can try Graduatemonkey.com. Graduates and professional job applicants recommend it.

What is the pass mark for aptitude tests?

When it comes to aptitude tests there is no pass mark which goes for everything. There are three main reasons behind this: first of all, the aptitude test scores are generally rated against the average of other people applying to the same position. This means every single recruitment round will have different averages. Also, drawing a generic pass mark becomes impossible due to the vast variety of aptitude tests companies are fielding these days. There are so many to choose from starting from brand to type within each brand.

Not only aptitude tests are different, many of them have markedly different difficulties. Most of the time, you will only know which test you will be taking once the company invites you to take a certain test after the initial interview round. The type and thus difficulty of your test depends on what job you are seeking and the company you are applying for.

Some aptitude test providers make very hard tests, while others will stick to more traditional, easy and commonly recognizable tests which are not as hard or intensive. Examples of medium difficulty tests include the ones provided by SHL, Kenexa, Saville and TalentLens. Compared to other alternatives, you may say these are ‘easy’. The hardest tests you can face are commonly created by three different companies. Cubiks and TalentQ will put a lot of pressure on you due to the complexity of problems and unique time limit set per question. Cut-e (test service company) goes for a different approach. Cut-e tests are extremely time limited, to the point where simply cannot answer all the questions given within the time frame. Prospective employers know that and will consider your results accordingly.

The hard road

Cubiks and TalentQ are particularly hard and known for it because of how intense they are and the amount of tests they throw upon an applicant. When going up to face any of these two you need to be prepared to face many more tests within tests, endless questions and much more than the usual triad verbal, logical and numerical reasoning questions which are usually found in the average aptitude test. For Cubiks and TalentQ, not only you need to be prepared to answer the questions and to solve the problems presented to you, you also need to be mentally and physically conditioned for a very draining and restless period because unlike Cut-e, the time limit to answer each and every question is standard, giving the applicant enough time to think. When you look at the amount of questions and problems each test has, you will need your brain fresh to work at its full capacity.

The impossible task

In Cut-e numerical reasoning format you are given 12 minutes to answer 37 questions and no one expects you to do all of it, however, your results will be judged against how much other applicants got done correctly. In the end the question is why do this at all, but when you are getting hired you get extreme questions thrown at you to see how you can withstand tension and pressure at the workplace.

Regardless of the test, even if they have no specific pass mark that does not in any way mean that aptitude tests are a walk in the park or that any mark will do. That is simply not the case, and a careless attitude never got anyone hired. It is your job not only to prepare, but to do so accordingly to the type of test you will be facing. Fortunately you can find plenty information online depending on which test you will be taking, and you can take free tests which allow you to explore the format and get plenty of preparation. You can also try test preparation packs offered by graduatemonkey.com as they including tutorial eBooks and videos.

How to Ace the Barclays Job Interview


aptitude test tutorial

More than 300 fresh graduates from all over the UK embark on the journey of their investment banking careers at the Barclays’ London Office situated in Canary Wharf. Jobs offered by the Barclays Group are divided into 3 core areas – personal and corporate banking, investment banking and business function.

When applying for an entry level position at Barclays, having a good academic record and communication skills is not enough. The Investment Banking Division of the Barclays Group searches for crème de la crème fresh graduates who can bring more to the table than just that.

The 6 key competencies that Barclays looks for are – business skills, commercial effectiveness, management & leadership skills, interpersonal skills, technical knowhow and control environment.

If you wish to pursue a career in investment banking, Barclays offers a great start to fresh graduates. In this article, we will discuss the various steps involved in the recruitment process and the tips and tricks that will help you ace the job interview at Barclays.

The Graduate Application Procedure

The entire application procedure is divided into 4 steps –

  • Online application
  • SHL Tests (Verbal & Numerical)
  • Telephone Interview
  • Assessment Centre

Step 1 – Online Application

Each online form available on the website is tailored to the Barclays business arm that the applicant is applying to. It includes general biographical information, extracurricular activities, questions regarding past work experience, open ended questions to test the competency of the applicant and a one page CV upload.

When filling in the online application form, there are certain aspects all applicants must focus on.

  • Do thorough research pertaining to the particular division you are applying to. Look for the attributes that are sought by recruiters in that business area. Try to highlight those competencies in the application to show that you are a good fit for the job.
  • Always support your answers with examples whenever possible for it increases the credibility of the answer. For e.g., don’t just mention that you have good problem solving skills; show them what you mean by quoting an example.
  • Use correct grammar and spellings. Make use of good vocabulary. Have your application form read by someone else before submitting to ensure no such mistakes have been made.
  • Don’t wait for the deadline – apply as soon as possible for applications are assessed on a rolling basis.

Step 2 – Aptitude Tests

Numerical Test

The numerical online reasoning test includes 35 MCQs that must be completed within 35 minutes. The questions in this test pertain to ratios, percentages and basic mathematical operations. This aptitude test is formulated to gauge the applicant’s mathematical skills and ability to comprehend information provided in charts, graphs, tables, etc.

Logical & Reasoning Test

The logical and reasoning test attempts to identify the applicant’s ability to solve problems by looking at shapes and patterns. The candidate is required to answer 24 questions within 25 minutes. Here’s an interesting point to note – those who are called in to take the numerical test don’t have to take this test. The recruiters decide on which test the candidate should be given depending on the position and department he or she has applied to.

Situational Judgment Test

The situational judgement test is a multimedia-based test that sets out various different workplace scenarios. You must be able to pick the most appropriate response to the situation given. This test is given in order to figure out if the individual matches up to the core values and skills sought by Barclays. The best way to ace this test is to peruse through the Barclays’ values and work description.

The Barclays Occupational Personality Test

The standard occupational personality test is tailored to Barclays’ requirements for its employees as it strives to determine whether an individual is the right fit for the position. If the OPQ32 test score is satisfactory, only then the individual is then invited to a telephone interview.

It is important to understand that there is no ‘one’ or specific type of personality that Barclays is particularly in search for. Therefore, there are no fixed ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers to questions in this test.

Step 3 – Telephone Interview

The telephone interview is conducted by an HR representative. All interview questions asked are related to the individual’s skill set in order to determine if he or she is a suitable candidate to become part of the Barclays Team. Based on the STAR method, candidates are asked competency based interview questions and are required to highlight situations in which they achieved desired results.

Here are some of the questions that you must prepare to be answer.

  • Why do you think you are a good fit for this job?
  • Why do you want to work for this particular division?
  • In your opinion, what issues are currently affecting this industry and Barclays in particular?

Step 4 – Assessment Centre

The last and the most important stage of the interview procedure is the full day activity at the Barclays assessment centre. The activities you will be asked to participate in are subject to change according to the business arm you have applied to. Activities at the Barclays assessment centre include in-centre SHL testing, one-on-one interviews, group exercise, role play, case study, analytical exercises and written exercises.

  • Numerical SHL Testing – The candidates are required to take a second numerical test at the assessment centre. The test consists of 35 questions and must be completed within the stipulated time. The difficulty level of this test is higher than the previous one.
  • Group Exercise – This is Barclays’ way of evaluating your decision making skills. At this stage, you will be given a fictitious case in which you’ll have to do a cost benefit analysis within 90 minutes.
  • One-on-One Interview – the second interview is a more technical one and you’ll face more complicated questions during this one. The interview questions will be related to your resume as well as brain teasing questions to gauge your intelligence.

We hope you find this information useful when applying for an entry level position at Barclays. Preparation is the only key to success when it comes to acing the Barclays job interview. Log on to www.graduatemonkey.com to get hold of the latest SHL aptitude test tutorial packs today!

Five Most Effective Tricks You Can Use During Your Job Interview

You have mastered the art of drafting flawless cover letters, resumes and job applications and are now receiving invitations for interviews. But do you know what it takes to succeed in the job interview to kick start your career at one of the blue chip firms?

For most fresh graduates, interviewing for a job is a scary, nerve wracking experience for many reasons. While some may find selling themselves unnerving, others have difficulty putting up with unexpected questions.

Fortunately, with the right tips and tricks, interviewing is a skill you can learn. We often hear tips like ‘dress smartly’, ‘be confident’, ‘sit up straight’ and other standard tips and tricks but here we dig deeper to help you ace your graduate job interview and come one step closer to getting the job you want at any organization.

Thorough Research on Financial Reports, Earnings Calls & Blog Posts of the Organization

Most individuals find themselves in a sticky situation when they are asked questions about the organization’s strengths, opportunities and its current standing in the industry. This is because they haven’t done thorough research on the organization and its current standing in the industry.

Content is gold in today’s world and all the big companies like Goldman Sachs and Microsoft have blogs where they publish  earnings calls, quarterly reports and all the latest happenings. Even new start-ups have blogs nowadays which is why it is important to gather as much information as you can by spending a couple of hours perusing through the company’s blog.

Take a look at the latest media releases, service and product information and anything else that can help you in the interview. Focus on the company’s core values to impress the interviewer by discussing situations that shed light on those highly sought-after values.

Suppose you’re interviewing for Google and you’re asked a question, ‘What is the biggest opportunity for Google in the next five years?’ You can answer this question in two ways:

You could either come up with a run-of-the-mill answer that wearable technology will be big since the Apple Watch and Google Glass has already become increasingly popular now or you could refer to Google’s quarterly earnings call and say how Google has currently spent a staggering $5 billion dollars only on display advertising for Google Glass.

The latter shows that you have done your homework and your answers are backed by current happenings in the industry.

Tell the Interviewer What He Wants To Hear

No two interview processes are identical. You may be interviewed by a partner, line manager, recruitment consultant or the HR department depending on the firm and the role. You may be invited for an interview with them individually or in combination. Each of these individuals will have a different agenda for the graduate job interview and so, your approach with each should be tailored accordingly.

The recruitment consultant’s role in the recruitment process is to screen out the unqualified applicants from the ones that meet the employer’s requirements. Essentially, the role of the recruitment consultant is to sell the job to the ideal candidate and sell you to the client if they believe you are a good fit for the job.

When a recruitment consultant calls you, woo them by highlighting your strengths, achievements and pointing out why you are an ideal candidate for the job in question. On the other hand, the HR consultant is the recruitment procedural expert whose job is to make sure the firm complies with all the legal requirements.

They are the ones involved in setting up the recruitment process so you can expect to face a more structured interview from them than anyone else. The HR consultant serves as the first screener from the employer’s side. Your interview with the line manager matters the most because they will determine whether you are the perfect new addition to the team or not.

Here are the two best techniques you should keep in mind to ace the interview:

  • Focus on building a good rapport with the line manager and point out your previous work-related accomplishments during the interview.
  • Brainstorm at least 3 PAR (Problem Action Result) anecdotes in which you highlight a problematic situation that you faced, what you did to solve it and what changed afterwards.

Treat each interviewer differently as if they don’t talk to each other and you will be surprised to see the difference it makes.

Prepare For the ‘Deal Breaker’ Question

Many of us over think and give run-of-the-mill answers like ‘I’m a perfectionist’ when asked, “What’s your weakness?” Others believe that honesty is the best policy and give genuine answers but still fail to understand what this ‘deal breaker’ question is all about.

This question does not require you to admit your weaknesses. It is all about showing how you identified your weakness, what you did to overcome it and what progress you’ve made in turning that weakness into strength. Getting through the job selection process can become a piece of cake if you come up with a compelling answer at this stage.

For instance, don’t just say that you struggle to run efficient meetings. Tell them how you’re trying to improve by drafting an agenda prior to the meeting. Emphasize on how you send the drafts to all the participants to make sure everyone knows what happened in the last meeting and what to do next.

Keep Your Body Language in Check

How you respond to the interview questions is paramount but poor body language may make you seem nervous, under confident and show that you have a tendency to crack under strain.

The best way to combat this problem is to smile, maintain eye contact, listen attentively, nod from time to time and maintain a solid posture. Avoid doing these – slouching, fidgeting with the pen, mumbling and chewing gum.

Think Aloud When Solving Analytical Questions

Sometimes analytical questions are included in the interview as well. Instead of staying silent for a minute and exploding with an answer suddenly, think aloud. Share your calculations and assumptions so the interviewer understands where exactly you’re coming from. Also, the good thing about thinking aloud when answering an analytical question is that it shows your communication and problem solving skills.

Keep these 5 surprisingly effective graduate job interview tricks in mind when you’re interviewing to get the job offer you always wanted. Check out www.graduatemonkey.com for SHL aptitude test tutorial packs today!

How to Get Multiple Job Offers From Top Investment Banks This Season



aptitude test tutorial

he investment banking industry is regarded as one of the most notoriously challenging fields where only the best of the best fresh grads have the potential to succeed. According to Careers-in-Finance, recent stats show that less than 200,000 entry level job opportunities are open for fresh graduates worldwide every year.

This no longer seems impressive as soon as you realize that the applicant pool is 10 times larger than the number of jobs available. Don’t get disappointed just yet; it may be tough to break into the investment banking field, but not impossible. With the right set of skills, academic background and determination, you can start off your career in investment banking as an analyst.

Read on to know what it takes to get multiple job offers from top investment banks like JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Scotland, Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas, etc.

Figure Out What You Want To Do Before Searching

Nail down the target job and audience before anything else. By this, we mean, search for the kind of job you want and determine if it has the most career capital. Before applying, do an in-depth search on the industry focus, size, personality, core values and management style of the organization.

This will not only help you determine if you are a good fit for the job but it will also provide you will deep insights that may come in handy during the interview. Some other points that you must also consider when applying for an entry level job at any top investment banks are – the salary, the people and the perks.

If possible, also try to find out more about the work environment and the organizational culture as it will help you create a resume that is tailor made for the job.

Know What to Expect When You Venture Into Investment Banking

Here are some hard facts that you must consider before applying for an entry level job at top investment banks like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, etc.

  • The field of investment banking is very demanding; 12-hour working days are not uncommon.
  • However, as far as entry level jobs are concerned, an analyst can earn as much as £50,000 on starting with bonuses.
  • You can choose to work in one of the many different areas of work an investment bank including private wealth management, operations, corporate banking, technology, risk management, specialist markets, structured finance, investment management, investment banking, specialist markets, markets, etc. Research each of these work areas carefully prior to filling in the application form and developing a resume.

The 4 Key Skills You Need To Develop

If you’re aiming to develop the competencies that investment banks want to see when you apply for an entry level job, these are the 4 key skills you need to develop instead of just having good teamwork and communication skills. According to Barclays Capital head of campus recruitment Jane Clark, investment banking recruiters want to see what more you can bring to the table other than your excellent academic grades alone.


Top investment banks are always in search of candidates who are quick learners; ones who can grasp and learn new concepts easily. Recruiters working for top investment banks feel that these individuals are highly sought-after because they are quick thinkers. They thrive in challenging and difficult situations rather than folding under pressure.

Keen learners with an insatiable hunger for dealing with challenging situations are the perfect fit for working in the investment banking industry because new opportunities, deals, markets and products continually emerge in this field.

Meanwhile, Baillie Gifford stresses upon the importance of intellectual curiosity – the ability to think rationally without jumping straight to conclusions, asking the right questions and picking the right leads during research.

During the interview, come up with a short anecdote on how you used your intellectual skills to handle a difficult situation to impress the interviewer.


The ability to indentify or create new profitable opportunities for developing a business is another highly prized skill. For instance, Morgan Stanley values entrepreneurial skills the most. Recruiters at Morgan Stanley look for individuals who can come up with innovative ideas and spot new areas for development.

Also, one of the key competencies that Mitsubishi UFJ Securities seeks in a candidate is the ability to ‘think of creative ideas and approaches’. Prepare a short anecdote to support your answer if the interviewer asks you to give an example of a time when you were innovative. Focus on the new idea or approach you came up with and how it helped.


Investment banking recruiters want a resilient individual who can easily adapt to the highly pressured working environment instead of breaking under strain. For instance, management and leadership competency of Barclays Capital includes the ‘ability to work under pressure’; meaning you must be able to meet short deadlines and deal with highly demanding prominent clients.

M&G Investments’ key competencies include ‘resilience under intense pressure’ referring to the capability to manage working with changing deadlines and deal with new information effectively.

Remember, a resilient person is one who sees a setback as a challenge. So woo the interviewer by coming up with an example in which you dealt with criticism positively by working towards improvement despite your disappointment.

Global Outlook

Top investment banks seek candidates who are capable of operating in an international context effectively. Merrill Lynch is known for recruiting individuals with a global outlook while Goldman Sachs requires job candidates to have strong linguistic skills for more than 50% of graduate job roles. Recently for Goldman Sachs, Turkish seems to be the new language of interest.

In order to impress the interviewer, focus on researching new growing markets in the world or a socio economic trend or key event that will affect markets in other countries of the world.

Other Highly Sought-After Competencies

Credit Suisse lists ‘loyalty’ among other key competencies while Rothschild includes ‘authority’ as one of its key competencies. On the other hand, HSBC plc – Global Businesses seeks individuals who have an outgoing nature and possess the ability to maintain a good level of diplomacy. Meanwhile, Citigroup recruiters feel that having a solid academic background and understanding of the industry is useless is you lack enthusiasm.


Develop the above key competencies to get a job offer from top notch investment banks like JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Barclays Capital, Royal Bank of Scotland, Citigroup, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, UBS, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, Mitsubishi, etc. Log on to www.graduatemonkey.com for SHL aptitude test tutorial packs today!

Who Should I Work For: Big Four Or An Investment Bank?

deloitte, Pwc, kpmg, ernst and young, job interview

deloitte, Pwc, kpmg, ernst and young, job interview


Ernst & Young, KPMG, PwC and Deloitte are the most prestigious firms in the professional services sector today. Every year, hundreds of fresh graduates come out with majors in finance or accounting and usually find themselves stuck in a dilemma – to work for one of the big four companies or start a career at an investment bank.

If you’re undecided between working for a big four company and an investment bank, read on to know the pros and cons of working for the big four vs. pursuing a career in investment banking.


With 170,000 employees, Deloitte is the largest firm in terms of manpower. Specializing in financial advisory, consulting, audit and tax, Deloitte LLP ranks number one in the US and around the world.


Deloitte is an ideal career choice for fresh grads for they hire hundreds of entry level employees through different universities.

Deloitte strives to reach out to a broader spectrum of individuals who wish to pursue a career in the accounting industry which is why the company is subdivided into 4 subsidiaries that provide countless job opportunities to individuals in categories like financial advisory services, taxes, consulting, growth enterprise, risk advisory, technology and Deloitte Real Estate.


For most fresh grads, gaining experience in the field of accounting is more important than the salary offered. However, the pay scale is still taken into consideration when applying for a job. The average salary earned by new graduate at Deloitte falls in the bracket of £31-33k.

Job Satisfaction

Here are some stats related to job satisfaction that we’ve picked from an anonymous survey conducted by GreatRated!. 96% employees working at Deloitte feel that the work given to them is both personally challenging and interesting.

92% described the work environment as collegial yet demanding. On the other hand, more than 85% employees agree that that Deloitte offers great rewards both, monetary and nonmonetary. Ample perks are offered by Deloitte including free snacks and beverages, personal travel service, fitness classes, etc.


With its main focus on environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility, PwC services clients from various industries including pharmaceuticals, aerospace, banks, defence, media and biotechnology.

According to insiders, PwC is seen as the machine of the Big Four – just like the Terminator. The company is seen as the most posh out of the four and generates the most revenue too. However, employees at PwC don’t get enough free time as they normally would at another big four firm.


PwC is one of the best accounting firms to kick start your career in finance. The learning curve at PwC is steep but employees usually have to work under stringent deadlines and pressure. If you like challenging tasks and deal with tough situations, PwC is the place to be to. You’ll also make a lot of industry connections and networks when you start working at PwC.

On another note, this big four company truly values diversity and has a strong commitment towards training and development of its employees. However, one of the major disappointments that new graduates face at beginning their career at PwC is that working late nights and weekends is not uncommon.


An associate with minimum experience of 0-2 years makes earns an average salary of £ 29,406. The salary increases to an average of £ 41,806 once you gain 2-4 years of experience and become a senior associate at the firm.

Job Satisfaction

According to a recent survey conducted by Vault.com, PwC ranks second in terms of job satisfaction after Deloitte. Even though most employees find the work environment at PwC challenging yet stressful most of the times as they usually have to pitch in more work hours and even work on weekends, PwC stresses upon the wellbeing and psychological health of its employees.

PwC’s Business Fit programme is especially designed to indentify and treat health conditions like mental health issues, knee and back problems, etc. A lot of perks and work benefits are also offered to employees such as longer vacations, retirement benefits, insurance benefits and bonuses.

Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young is a global leader in providing transaction and advisory, assurance and tax services. EY provides its invaluable services to clients from various industries like technology, telecoms, aviation, energy and retail.


Working at Ernst & Young is a pleasant experience for fresh graduates who want to maintain a work-life balance since this firm truly believes in flexibility. Just like PwC, the work environment at Ernst & Young is challenging and provides its employees with great new opportunities to showcase their talents alongside other hugely capable people.

The experience one gains at Ernst & Young lasts a lifetime for it provides its employees the chance to work with the biggest and most thriving businesses in the world.


The average salary earned by an associate at Ernst & Young is £ 28,696. However, once the associate is promoted to the position of senior consultant, he or she may earn up to £ 49,661.

Job Satisfaction

In order to retain employees, Ernst & Young offers amazing perks and work benefits. EY Discounts enable employees to get discounts on everything they buy – from restaurants to computers, cell phones, new and used cars, electronics, movie tickets and personal vacations.

A proper flexible benefits system is also in place that offers work benefits to employees pertaining to health and wellness, retirement, family and parenting, vacations, etc. To enhance the work experience of its valuable work staff, Ernst & Young spends millions of pounds of training and development programs for its employees.


KPMG is a big four accounting firm with a global presence in more than 140 countries. KPMG provides financial accounting services to clients from the government to public sector agencies and even non profit organizations.


To work at KPMG is a dream-come-true for fresh grads and professionals alike. According to Big Four insiders, KPMG works with a ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality; making it one of the best companies to begin a career in financial accounting.

KPMG is also regarded as the friendliest firm out of the Big Four given its friendly work culture and laidback work environment. With plenty of great opportunities to bring one’s talent to the forefront when working with fast-paced career progression, the work experience at KPMG is unlike any other.


The salary range for an audit associate at KPMG is between £ 27,000 and £ 47,242. The average salary earned is £ 32,403.

Job Satisfaction

KPMG believes in rewarding its hard working employees with the best perks and benefits to make them stay. KPMG offers its employees an opportunity to pick and select perks and benefits according to their needs along with standard benefits pertaining to health and wellness, vacation, parenting, financial and retirement, etc.

Why Work For An Investment Bank?

Working at a top notch investment bank like Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas, Goldman Sachs, etc. is another great career opportunity for those who want to excel in the field of investment banking.

It is believed that landing a job in an investment bank is relatively more difficult than starting a career at a big four firm. Here we analyze the pros and cons of working at an investment bank in terms of career, salary and job satisfaction.


A career in investment banking is financially rewarding and pretty stable. In public accounting, one has the opportunity to choose from a variety of financial and accounting roles and disciplines.

As you climb the career ladder, financial careers can result in narrower yet more successful positions with higher than average incomes. When it comes to kick starting a career in the investment banking field as a fresh grad, the only barrier to entry is cutthroat competition from competitors.


According to an article published in the International Business Times, salaries for entry level positions at top notch investment banks has now skyrocketed to £ 100,000. This is mainly due to a structural change that has resulted in more fresh graduates working for investment banks as compared to senior staff members.

Job Satisfaction

Even though putting in 80-90 hours a week when working in an investment bank is the norm, young investment bankers are fairly satisfied with their jobs. According to a survey conducted by Vault.com, it’s not just the high salary that makes investment bankers stay. It’s the work itself that is highly satisfying.

A day in the life of a young investment banker is action packed with challenging work and high pressure situations coupled with great opportunities to showcase their skills.

We hope this detailed comparison on Big Four vs. Investment Banks helps you in making a decision on where to begin your career once you graduate. Log on to www.graduatemonkey.com for SHL aptitude test tutorial packs today!

How to prepare for SHL reasoning tests

Being unemployed for a long period of time degrades the morale, especially if you are qualified and deserving. Coping up with the feeling of being unemployed is very difficult and a lot of candidates find it as a strenuous process.  You need to move in the right direction to let an opportunity to knock at your door. And, the first toward a dream job is preparing for the SHL aptitude tests. Did you know that more than 50% of job applicants are rejected at aptitude tests stage?

Three main test categories, namely, SHL numerical, verbal and logical reasoning tests are most commonly used by some of the largest companies in the world to compare the most relevant abilities in a candidate. If you are a graduate looking for a job opportunity, then you need to seriously devote time and prepare for the SHL tests because you need to achieve a desired level of performance to progress in the job recruitment process. The SHL tests include numerical reasoning, inductive reasoning, verbal reasoning, mechanical comprehension and spatial awareness. Coming out with flying colors in these tests is essential as it determines your capability in a given attribute, which is important for a job. Therefore, you need to thoroughly prepare for the reasoning tests. Hard work and practice should sail you to the next level.

  1. Understanding the test

Before starting the practice test, you need to understand the basic structure of the test and the number of questions in each category. Accordingly, you can maintain your speed and ensure that the majority of the questions are answered accurately.

Verbal reasoning test is used to assess the critical thinking and comprehension skills along with verbal abilities. A short text passage is followed by a statement and you need to evaluate it based upon the content of the passage. The time limit is usually 19 minutes for the set of 30 questions.

Numerical reasoning test is used to assess your comfort level with numbers. It assesses your ability to read and deduce answers from numerical, graphical, financial and statistical data. The test is made up of 18 questions and 25 minute time limit. You need to primarily focus on percentage, ratios, balance sheets, statistical analysis and graphical data.

Inductive (logical) reasoning test is used to assess the ability of an individual to draw conclusions and inferences based on a sequence of shapes and diagrams. You are given a set of 24 logical reasoning problems that must be answered within the 25 minute time limit.

Spatial Ability test is used to assess the ability to read, understand and manipulate 2 and 3 dimensional figures.

Mechanical Comprehension test is used to assess the ability to understand the basic mechanical principles.

You have now become well familiar with the SHL test. The next step of preparation is mastering the basics.

  1. Master the basics

If the foundation of a building is strong, the building will last for a long time, the same rule applies when preparing for SHL tests. Instead of memorizing the concepts, you need to thoroughly understand the concepts and master the basics. If the concepts are clear, you will save time and energy while answering the questions. Additionally, you will be able to understand the twists in the question and work accordingly. Apart from mastering the basics, you also need to focus on learning shortcuts to the solutions. Questions requiring intensive mathematical calculation can be answered accurately within fractions of second using shortcut methods. You also need to focus on interpretation of graphs as you might come across some similar questions. Other questions relating to mirror images, perspective, spatial reasoning cubes and organizing two dimensional shapes. Most mechanical reasoning questions are based on Newtonian mechanics and the calculation required in each is comparatively less. Focus on your weak areas and enhance your chances of clearing the initial round of a job recruitment process.

  1. Never spend too much time on a single question

Note that, on average, it takes half of the allocated time to understand each question, and the remaining half is spent on calculations. During the exam, if you are not able to understand a particular question, then move on to the next as soon as possible. It is futile to spend a lot of time on a single question when you are unable to crack it. You need to keep a track of the time because once if the time elapses, the test will cut-off and the remaining questions will be left unanswered. Therefore, never dwell too much time on a single question. Work and focus on answering the questions without distractions from others. A balance of speed and accuracy is the key to success. Read the question carefully before attempting because certain questions are tricky and requires careful analysis. Devote time on every answer and check before marking an option.

  1. Practice

Practice makes it perfect. The same applies when preparing for the SHL test. Practice as many as possible practice tests as possible to develop speed and accuracy. The sample question sets and the practice test material by Graduatemonkey.com are close approximations to actual SHL tests and will serve to prepare you for the real test. The video tutorials will help you understand the concepts, so that you will avoid making any mistakes while attempting the question paper. It is extremely important to practice in order to clear the test with a top score.

On the assessment day, go with a positive frame of mind because lack of confidence could have a detrimental effect on the way your brain will function during the test. The more you practice, the easier it will become to accurately answer the questions in the given span of time. Focus and believe in your abilities, you will surely clear the online test!