KPMG is one of the largest multinational financial services firms in the world. It has offices in 153 countries, including the top 10 locations with the highest salaries for accountants. KPMG employs over 200,000 people, serving clients in business, governments, public-sector agencies and not-for-profits.
For many jobseekers in the financial industry, securing a spot on KPMG’s payroll is a major career goal. The firm is one of the best accounting firms to work for in the world, known industry-wide as one of the ‘Big Four’ (along with Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and PwC). Competition for every open position is fierce, so you’ll have to do everything you can to stand out in the crowd.
So how do you get hired by KPMG? We’ve put together these seven steps to guide you through the process.
1. Be certain you have the right skills
KPMG is very specific about the qualities they want in a potential employee. They explain a selection of these desired skills for jobseekers in their careers section, but there are additional clues to what they’re looking for throughout their website. You’ll quickly see that KPMG leaders are very interested in maintaining an atmosphere of collaboration, innovation and doing meaningful work.
If you’re interested in getting a job at KPMG, be sure you’re prepared to demonstrate some aspect of these seven qualities throughout the process:
- Motivated: This is one of the first steps every jobseeker should take before applying to a job. You should be able to explain why you want a position, how your strengths are suited to the role, and what your goals are moving forward. KPMG specifically wants to know why you’re passionate about working for their company.
- Driven: You can display your drive for positive results throughout the hiring process. Be prepared with specific examples of how you displayed initiative at university or work to share in the interviews.
- Honest: Doing tax preparation and auditing for KPMG requires a thorough knowledge of laws and regulations. They want to be certain you not only know the rules but are keen to follow and enforce them. The firm repeatedly stresses the value it places on integrity and ethical behaviour in the workplace.
- Critical thinker: Roles in accounting and analysis require strong problem-solving and critical thinking skills. KPMG wants to see that you can tackle complex problems from multiple angles.
- Resilient: What the firm describes as ‘attaining results during times of change, stress and instability’ is what is also known as displaying adaptability on the job.
- Tech-savvy: Any job you apply for will be looking for comfort with the software and online tools you use to complete your job. KPMG is also looking for a candidate who embraces new technology and is willing to share their knowledge with others.
- Communicative: While effective communication in the workplace is important to many businesses, here you’ll need to demonstrate that you can express yourself well to both technically minded colleagues and results-focused clients.
- Innovative: KPMG want to hire people who foster innovation within the workplace. You’ll need to demonstrate how you can bring new ideas and methods to the company if you’re hired.
- Curious: The company wants to hire people who are inquisitive and that constantly seek out information and knowledge.
- Collaborative: You need to be able to meaningfully connect and collaborate with others to be successful within the company. Being able to foster deep relationships, work within a team and build meaningful relationships is crucial.
If you have these skills, then you’re off to a great start.
2. Research the company
KPMG has an information-packed website, making it easy to learn a lot about the company before applying. There are sections devoted to individual departments, like Audit and Assurance or Tax Preparation, as well as detailed stories of how the firm assisted their major clients in achieving their goals. They also include company press releases, news, industry-related articles and employee biographies.
Look through the main KPMG website, but also be sure to examine the sites tailored to each country. If you’re applying to an office in Australia, the types of jobs available and the skills required may be different than those in Switzerland or the Cayman Islands.
Viewing the extensive website, which even includes training and a ‘talent community’ you can join as an aspiring employee, it should be clear if the company is a right fit for you. If the high expectations, global reach, intensely collaborative environment and constantly evolving technologies seem like an exciting challenge, then KPMG is the perfect place for you.
It’s apparent from their website that KPMG is looking for a lot of hard work and initiative from its employees. So, if you prefer a more laid-back environment with a steady 8am–5pm schedule, another company might suit you better.
Since KPMG offers so much information about their history, mission, work life and job skills, they will expect you to be familiar with this material when you apply. Knowing a lot of detail about the company and your job role will instantly display your work ethic and due diligence to the hiring team.
3. Connect on social media
Anyone who wants to get a job at KPMG should also connect with the company on social media, including their Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages. You’ll get instant leads on job vacancies as well as news about the business.
You should also look into following individuals from the company. Networking online is one of the top tips for getting any job, but it can be particularly helpful to a career at KPMG. Some offices offer referral bonuses to employees, so it’s an added incentive for one of your contacts to put in a good word for you.
4. Explore your job options
Many students on the path to becoming an accountant aspire to work at a large and prestigious firm like KPMG. There are a variety of careers and job roles available in their offices around the world, however, that go beyond simple number-crunching. Their global job search page includes categories for accounting, auditing, engineering, human resources, information technology and telecommunications.
The job search feature allows you to qualify your search by region, country, category, job function and keyword. They also suggest you do a job search on the KPMG site specific to your desired location, such as the US careers page.
There are also distinct pathways for candidates, depending on where you are in your career progression. In the UK, for example, these are:
- experienced professional
Some KPMG sites also include a separate section for executives. For those just beginning their career in accounting and finance, many of the firm’s locations offer training and internship opportunities. This can help you learn valuable job skills for any career path, but it also makes you a more desirable candidate for KPMG roles.
5. Fill out the application
Once you’ve found a job that seems promising, you’ll want to click the ‘Apply’ button and fill out the online application. The format can vary somewhat, depending on what role you are applying for and where. In most cases, you will be asked to provide information such as:
- personal details
- contacts at KPMG (not mandatory, but it helps to have a friend on the inside)
- details of the job or internship you’re applying for
- education, including the name of the institution and your degree level
- qualifications (a standard section for every level of hire, so don’t worry if you’re a recent grad and don’t have professional qualifications yet)
- language skills (not mandatory, but being multilingual gives you a better chance of getting hired)
- employment/work history
For more experienced candidates, you’ll have the chance to upload a résumé, which will shorten the length of the application process. KPMG also gives you the option to log in to LinkedIn, Facebook or other sites to help populate the application fields with your personal information and work history.
Be sure to tailor your résumé to KPMG, including references to some of the required qualities we’ve mentioned in step one above. Accountants, as well as applicants to other financial positions, should also stress their applicable job skills, including programming, Excel, time management and attention to detail. You’ll want to make a solid first impression, so consider looking over our list of the best accountant résumé examples before updating your own.
6. Take the online assessments
This is the most common next step for recent graduates, but experienced applicants may also be asked to complete an online assessment. Once again, the hiring team will be looking for those ‘KPMG strengths’, like motivation and integrity, that we discussed in step one.
They also advice taking the assessments in a place where you won’t be disturbed so you can fully attentive and focused. You can save your progress as you go through the assessments and come back to them if you want to. However, KPMG does recommend taking them in one go. You’ll need to have a calculator, pen and paper nearby, too.
The first assessment takes about 90 minutes to complete, though you’re given 5 calendar days from the date of your invitation. The subject is ‘Transforming Small Businesses’. You’ll have to use your knowledge and experience to react to certain scenarios involving the business challenges of three fictional companies. There will also be some data analysis.
The multiple-choice portion is a form of assessment known as a situational judgement test (SJT). Here’s an example of the type of question many companies use in their SJTs:
Question: Everyone in your department has received a new computer system except for you. What would you do?
Please choose the most effective and the least effective responses:
- Assume this is a mistake and speak to your manager.
- Confront your manager regarding why you are being treated unfairly.
- Take a new computer from one of your colleagues.
- Complain to Human Resources.
You’ll receive a personal feedback report from KPMG after the first assessment. If you do well, you’ll be invited to do a second online assessment.
The second KPMG assessment is called Delivering Outcomes and will take approximately 30 minutes to complete, with a 3-day deadline. This test will take you through a fictional project related to your chosen career area. You’ll again have to detail your reactions to certain business scenarios. There are also written assignments.
Two recent examples included:
Write a report summarizing the weaknesses of a firm using the information you’ve been given.
Compose an email advising a coworker who accidentally sent out an email containing audit details of a firm to another firm.
You will also have to respond to a selection of timed questions (two minutes of prep, two to three minutes to respond), with video responses via your webcam. These responses can’t be rewatched or rerecorded, so make sure you’ve used the preparation time they’ll give you beforehand. Potential questions include:
- How would you respond to a small business which is concerned that KPMG only helps out big firms?
- Introduce yourself to a senior partner in a way that ensures you maintain a strong working relationship.
- Present to a group of university students why you joined KPMG and your strengths that aligned to the role.
Additional questions vary depending on the role you are applying for and will apply more directly to your job skills. One goal of this portion of the test is to display how effectively you communicate in the workplace. You’ll also be demonstrating how quickly you can adapt to issues and problem-solve.
KPMG advises not to be tempted by companies offering to help you through their recruitment process, and states explicitly that they are not endorsed or supported by them. So, beware!
7. Run the gauntlet of interviews
The path to getting a job at KPMG is not an easy one. Graduates who’ve passed the assessment tests with flying colours will next be invited to a Virtual Launch Pad event which consists of four different activities, and this usually takes place over a three-hour period.
Firstly, you’ll be required to take a series of psychometric tests, which will test your numerical and verbal reasoning, as well as your situational judgement. You’ll then do a group exercise with other jobseekers, and, after this, you’ll need to complete a written exercise that proves you can analyze, draw conclusions and create a plan from the information you’re given.
After this, you’ll have a one-on-one interview with a KPMG senior employee from the department you’re applying to.
Experienced professionals applying to KPMG typically go through two or three interviews. Applicants report various experiences depending on the department and office location. Interviews may be conducted in person, by phone or online video chat.
Many candidates report an initial interview that is fairly relaxed, giving the hiring team the opportunity to get to know you. This is where you get the chance to sell yourself, so be ready to talk about your education, job skills and accomplishments. You’ll also want to be engaging and to display your enthusiasm for the company and your career path there.
Interview questions at KPMG can range from very technical queries related to programming and data analysis to more behavioural topics like teamwork and adaptability. An important tip for any interview is to prepare for all kinds of tough questions.
Here are some examples of what the KPMG staff might ask you:
- Can you talk about a business that’s doing well? Which three things do you consider key to its success?
- Can you tell me something interesting you’ve read about KPMG in the news?
- Which opportunities can you see now for KPMG to develop new business?
- A company wants to relocate overseas. Talk us through the problems it faces.
- How do you manage your time?
- What are your two biggest accomplishments in life?
- Describe a task that you failed and why.
- What would your coworkers say is your biggest weakness?
- Describe a time when you had to demonstrate leadership to motivate a group to perform a task.
- Estimate the national electric energy consumption from households.
- Take us through one of the projects listed on your CV.
One question that all KPMG candidates will be asked is about why you’ve chosen to work at this firm. Be ready to use all the knowledge of the company you’ve gathered from their website. Express enthusiasm for the job as well as admiration for some aspect of their business like the inclusive culture, global success or dedication to integrity at work.
It’s worth remembering how focused KPMG are when it comes to a candidate’s skills and key strengths. When you’re interviewing, reiterate how you align with the strengths we covered at the beginning of this article.
8. Follow up after the interview
Don’t be afraid to follow up after the interview. Many candidates said they emailed or phoned their contact at KPMG if they didn’t hear back in a reasonable amount of time. In many cases, they either got a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’ determination or an appointment for the next interview in the process.
If you do decide to follow up, make sure you that a fair amount of time has passed since your last interview, and reiterate why you’re the best candidate for the role.
9. Analyze your results
If you’re interested in working for KPMG then you’re probably an analytical person, right? Well, now is the time to analyze how things went, and focus on things you can improve going forward. Did you miss adding something important that could have turned the tide in your favor? Or did you speak a little too much about a particular topic without, however, answering their questions? What parts of the interview went well? These are all useful questions to ask yourself post-interview.
Take some time to think about what you can do differently in the future, regardless of if you’re successful or not! Each interview is different and should be seen as an opportunity to grow and develop as a candidate.
As you can see, it can be a lengthy and potentially stressful process to get a job at KPMG. Researching the company, preparing for potential interview questions and displaying the skills the firm values give you a solid chance of getting hired. We recommend looking at their website for updates about the company, so you’re prepared with the latest company news if you get to the interview stage.
If you’re not successful this time, that’s okay. KPMG allows you to reapply for positions after six months. So, ensure to ask for some feedback before you reapply.
Ultimately, how skilled you are in your chosen field and how well you fit into the KPMG environment and the company culture are major factors that will determine your success as an applicant.
Have you ever applied to KPMG? What was the process like for you? Join the discussion below and let us know!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 28 May 2015 and contains contributions by staff writer Hayley Ramsey.