KPMG graduate schemes: how to apply

24 Oct 2023, 13:30

KPMG’s application process offers you plenty of opportunities to showcase your skills. Find out what the recruitment process looks like, what recruiters are looking for and how to prepare at every stage.

A picture of a desk, laptop and plant, ready to apply for KPMG's graduate programmes

KPMG’s graduate application process is different from those of many other graduate recruiters. Instead of submitting a CV and attending an assessment centre, you’ll move through a number of online tasks split into stages. This format is designed to help recruiters select applicants whose skills align most closely to the organisation’s work and ethos. We’ve outlined the process and provided tips on how to tackle each step.

The multiple stages mean you get many opportunities to demonstrate how your strengths and aspirations match what they’re looking for – and KPMG is transparent about this. In fact, the recruitment process is designed around the strengths the firm needs its people to have.

What skills does KPMG want?

KPMG is looking for people who can:

  • drive quality
  • demonstrate integrity
  • think critically
  • perform resiliently
  • leverage technology
  • communicate effectively
  • foster innovation
  • make credible connections
  • show curiosity
  • collaborate purposefully
  • show career motivation.

What is KPMG’s graduate recruitment process

For the majority of candidates, the KPMG application process follows four steps.

1. Online application

In this stage, you’ll complete an online application form. The firm says this should take around 30 minutes and that you won’t need to submit a CV as well.

The most important thing to do at this point is to ensure you’re applying for the scheme that matches your skills and interests best. You can only have one application in KPMG’s recruitment system at a time and, if you’ve been unsuccessful, you can’t apply again until the following year.

If you don’t have the grades requested for the programme you want, recruiters suggests that you apply anyway, especially if you’re a just few marks short – you can explain your mitigating circumstances as part of the application process.

As you work your way through the application form, you’ll be asked to enter information about yourself and your background, to select the vacancy and location you’re interested in and to outline whether you have the required qualifications for that vacancy.

Prepare for this stage by choosing the right programme for you

  • Take a look around the firm’s website – especially the ‘Insights’ section and the blog – to get a sense of the work the firm is involved in. Make a note of projects that resonate with you and set up content alerts to keep up with their progress, and think about how you could contribute to projects like these.
  • Review the training opportunities available within different graduate roles and make sure you’re clear about which qualifications they lead to. For example, if you choose an auditing role, you’ll work towards a certificate in accounting, finance and business in your first year, while, if you want to work in consulting, you’ll be studying for a three-year accounting course.
  • Check that the programme that interests you is available in the location you want (not all graduate roles are available in all of the firm’s offices).
  • If you feel uncertain about which role would suit you, take a look at the profiles of KPMG graduates on our KPMG organisation hub.
  • Follow the firm’s social media accounts. If you’re on LinkedIn, follow the firm and look up former graduates to see how their careers have progressed. This will help you get a sense of where different roles will take you.
  • Put together any evidence to support any mitigating circumstances that may have affected your studies.

2. Transforming small businesses

Once you’ve submitted your application form, you’ll be invited to complete ‘Transforming small businesses’, an online assessment. Here, you’ll look at case studies featuring small businesses facing a series of challenges and invited to choose how you’d respond to these from a selection of options. The firm doesn’t divulge much more about this step beyond that it’s designed to assess your strengths.

This part of your application should take around 90 minutes. You won’t be timed although you will need to submit your assessment within five days of being invited to take it.

Prepare for this stage by reflecting on your strengths

  • Map your strengths against those that KPMG wants. If this sounds a bit daunting, start by creating a table and listing the strengths in one column. Then, add examples of when you’ve demonstrated these strengths from your studies, work experience and other activities in another column. You don’t need to do this in one go – you can add ideas as you think of them.
    For example, you may have demonstrated integrity when managing the finances of a university society, collaborated purposefully by leading a group activity as part of your course and leveraged technology by running social media accounts for a club you’re involved in. It’s not always easy to be objective about yourself, so don’t be shy about asking for help from your university careers service or your friends .
    This kind of reflection will be helpful for all your job applications as you’ll have a quick reference guide to your skills along with examples, so it’s worth taking the time to do it.
  • Run through the practice tests on KPMG’s website.
  • Take a look at our guidance on building commercial awareness , an important skill for those working in or advising small business, and let the insights feed into your responses.
  • Look up news stories about small businesses and the decisions their leaders have taken. Newspaper websites such as and have small business sections (ask if your university library has a subscription so you can access content behind paywalls) while sites such as provide analysis of business trends and their impacts. Follow up sectors that interest you by researching them in academic journals such as the Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development .
  • Listen out for business podcasts such as ‘Wake up to money’.
  • Make sure you’ll have a quiet space, the right software and device (details are available on KMPG’s website) and a reliable internet connection while you’re completing the assessment.
  • Contact KPMG’s recruitment team if you need any specific arrangements or want to check whether the online assessments are compatible with accessibility tools you use.

3. Delivering outcomes

If you’re successful in the second stage of the application process, you’ll be invited to join the third, ‘Delivering outcomes’. Once again, this is an online assessment focusing on case studies of small businesses but this time you’ll be asked to record or write your recommendations rather than choosing them from pre-selected options.

The firm’s recruiters suggest that this step will take about an hour. As with stage 2, you won’t be timed but you’ll need to submit your responses within five days of receiving the link to the assessment portal.

Prepare for this stage by building your knowledge of small businesses

  • Start to apply your skills and knowledge to the small business situations you’ve read and heard about. For example, think about what you’d have done to tackle the challenges small businesses have faced in journal articles and podcasts you’ve come across. How would customers and employees be affected by your decision? Which of the challenges sound trickiest and why? Put simply, try to put yourself in the shoes of a small business leader or adviser.
  • Also take a look at our advice on video interviews . Although this stage isn’t a live video interview, you will need to record some responses on video and our advice will help you feel confident doing this.
  • As before, making sure you have a suitable place and device to complete the assessment.

4. Launch Pad

Candidates who are successful at stage 3 are invited to the final stage, the in-person ‘Launch Pad’. Here, you’ll gain more insights into the firm’s work, complete further assessments designed to explore your strengths and have an interview. You’ll also be able to meet KPMG trainees and other colleagues. Beyond this, as with previous stages, KPMG recruiters don’t say much about what’s involved in this stage, but it’ll be important to feel confident about your skills and in yourself when meeting KPMG staff.

Prepare for this stage by building confidence

  • Review your reflections on your strengths and your experience, and choose the strongest examples to use in your interview.
  • Take a look at our advice on strength-based interviews and competency-based interviews .
  • Devise and practise responses to the example questions in these articles, along with answers to competency-based questions focusing on all of the strengths that KPMG is looking for. For example, draft a response to the question ‘Tell me about a time when you demonstrated integrity’ using examples from your table of strengths.
  • Ask friends or a careers adviser to do a mock interview with you – don’t forget to ask for feedback.
  • Note down questions to ask at your interview based on the research you’ve done into the firm.

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