Big Four accounting firms are big hirers, and have continued to recruit in large numbers even while other parts of the financial sector have scaled back. A large proportion of these are graduate hires, but KPMG is also bringing in up to 7,000 hires across the EMEA region in 2014.
We spoke to Iain McLaughlin, KPMG’s head of global resourcing, on the firm’s recruitment plans and what it takes to get a job there.
How many people are you hiring in EMEA next year? What's the breakdown for graduates and experienced hires?
For 2014, we’re looking at bringing in 15,000-16,000 people. Of these, around 9,000 will be graduates, 7,000 experienced hires and around 70-80 partners. This is fairly consistent with our recruitment numbers for 2013.
What are the most active areas of recruitment?
Any recruitment is driven by client needs, but I’d expect banking and more broadly financial services to be growth areas for us in 2014. Our graduate recruitment across audit, tax and advisory is also our bread and butter, so we work hard to create a presence on campus as well as the more traditional online recruitment channels.
Which countries are you growing most aggressively in?
The countries within EMEA where there’s a spike in demand currently are the Middle East, as well as several countries across Africa, whereas Europe is more stable. In the UK, we’d expect to hire over 2,000 experienced and 700-800 graduates.
What are the main areas you struggle to recruit for?
Across our three key business areas, audit presents the biggest challenge. Part of the reason for this is that a lot of potential candidates don’t have a clear idea of what the role involves, and have negative stereotypes about the job. I’d say there’s a huge variety within the role, gaining great exposure to clients as well as groups within the firm. We’re developing an initiative called Realistic Job Preview that allows candidates to get genuine information on what the job involves, rather than relying on their preconceptions.
Talk us through the interview process?
Before making it to interview, you’ll have to go through an online application, which often includes some kind of cognitive ability test. Assuming you’re successful, the first interview will usually be with a member of the HR or Recruitment team and will focus on your capabilities and fit within the organisation. If successful, you’ll be asked to a second interview with a member of the business or a panel of interviewer, who will test your technical and market knowledge. We usually extend an offer after the second interview.
Do you have any tips?
The group of people who usually struggle in interviews are graduates, and this is simply because they’re often unprepared. Do your research on the role and company, practice the tests and try to gain an idea of the sort of questions you’re likely to be asked to avoid the shock factor.
Where do people go wrong with their CVs?
The most common problem we have is people making their CV too long – two pages is a fair guide. I think a lot of people assume that it will serve to their advantage to put as much information into their CV as possible. In reality, being able to accurately present an accurate picture of yourself in a concise way is a skill that’s hard to do well. However, you don’t do yourself justice by providing too much information.
Are there any indirect ways into KPMG - such as through referral programmes or graduate recruitment programmes targeting particular groups?
At a graduate level, we have campus events all year round, which is the best way of gaining an insight into KPMG and the opportunities we have. We also run KICC (KPMG International Case Competition), where students compete against one another to solve business issues, meet partners at the firm, in a different location each year - the last three years competition has been held in Madrid, Hong Kong and Istanbul, and next year it will be in Sao Paulo. This is a good branding and recruitment tool, but we also have a range of country led schemes and initiatives to encourage diversity across the firm.