INTERVIEW: Senior HR Manager at KPMG (Cyprus)

KPMG is one of the most renowned employers in the world providing fantastic career prospects and internship opportunities to graduates in many disciplines. The company has been ranked second by business students in Universum’s Survey for three consecutive years. So, what makes this company so special? What should graduate students know about the job application and hiring process at KPMG? What are the perks for KPMG employees? Marios Papalazarou, the Associate HR Advisor at KPMG (Cyprus) provided us with an exclusive insight into the world of KPMG and explained everything a young graduate aspiring to work for KPMG, should know.

The interview below was conducted via an electronic questionnaire by Michalis Michael on 27/11/2013.

Internships / Training Schemes

Michalis Michael (Interviewer): Are your internships and training schemes in line with the global standards and expectations of KPMG, or are they unique to the Cyprus branch?

Marios Papalazarou : We follow the international KPMG standards. It should be noted that the training schemes offered by KPMG Cyprus are work experience combined with completion of professional qualifications such as ACA, ACCA, CFA etc. Trainees are considered to be employees of KPMG. Interns on the other hand can only participate in our Summer Placement Program, which is a one month summer placement in a department of their choice.

M.M.: Do you have internships available for all departments within KPMG?

M.P.: Yes, although each year we alert potential candidates whether a department has the required time to devote to an intern.

M.M. What are the entry requirements for interns/trainees at KPMG? (Is extracurricular work important besides qualifications?)

M.P.: We require that candidates are university students and that they meet the following minimum academic criteria:

 High School

17.5 or equivalent


University Grade

Cypriot/Greek Universities


UK universities


USA/Private Cypriot Universities


 Yes, apart from their academic performance, a lot of emphasis is given to their business awareness, ability to substantiate their answers by providing well structured arguments and their extracurricular activities (e.g. volunteering, hobbies etc)

M.M.: Do you only accept candidates from the top ranked universities?

M.P.: No, not necessarily.

M.M.: How can a university student apply for an internship?

M.P.: They may complete an application form available in our website

M.M.: How can a graduate apply to your training scheme? Do you accept applications from candidates internationally?

M.P.: They may complete an application form. The vast majority of those hired are selected from those participating in our Summer Placement Program

M.M.: Is there any way that potential candidates can practice for the Verbal and Numerical Reasoning tests in advance?

M.P.:  We recommend that candidates, who will take the tests, practice in completing similar tests found on the internet.

M.M.: How long do your training schemes and internships last for?

M.P.: Our Summer Placement Program lasts around one month. Our Training scheme is expected to last around three years.

M.M.: What would you say are the most notable perks for interns/trainees at KPMG?

M.P.: They have the opportunity to work and be trained by the best professionals in the areas of audit, tax and advisory, receive first class training and work with significant clients.

M.M.: What do interns do during their internship? Is it a hands-on role they take or do they simply shadow others in their roles?

M.P.: During their internships we try to combine hands-on work with shadowing.

M.M.: What kind of skills are interns/trainees at KPMG expected to develop after they finish their internship/training?

 M.P.: Interns are only here for one month. During that month they are exposed to real life work examples. At the end of their internship they are expected to have gained a good understanding of the skills required to do job effectively. Our training scheme is expected to develop the trainees’ business skills, their ability to think critically, to work in teams and share knowledge, to manage their work and their team’s work. Beyond their soft skills, trainees are expected to gain a rounded knowledge of the services offered by their department.

M.M.: Do you offer individuals a job in their area of expertise after successful completion of their internship/training scheme?

M.P.: Internship performance is a crucial factor when deciding who is to be offered a Graduate Trainee position. Other factors are important as well such as interview and test performance.


Job Application and Hiring Process

M.M.: Do you conduct recruitment in-house or do you enlist the help of a recruitment consultancy?

M.P.: In-house

M.M.: What is the process of your recruitment strategy?

M.P.: Telephone or face-to-face interview depending on the location of the intern. For trainees we adopt a different recruitment process which is Verbal and Numerical tests followed by a face-to-face interview.

M.M.: Where do you normally advertise job vacancies for graduates?

M.P.: On our website or by cooperating with the career offices of different universities.

M.M.: Do you participate in international career events or graduate fairs and do you actively scout/headhunt graduates from top universities to work at KPMG?

M.P.: We do participate in universities career fairs. We do not conduct headhunting.

M.M.: Does the company liaise with universities to inform graduates about internship opportunities?

M.P.: Yes

M.M.: Do your employees tend to be graduates from specific universities and from specific countries?

M.P.: Yes

M.M.: Do you put priority on graduates from the UK or US universities?

M.P.: No

M.M.: What tests if any do you require graduate job applicants to undertake at interview stage or pre-interview stage?

M.P.: Verbal and numerical test

M.M.: What skills does KPMG look for in applicants? Does KPMG put more emphasis on hard or soft skills?

M.P.: The skills we look for in applicants are business thinking, problem solving, team working, target and quality driven and critical thinking. Both  hard and soft skills are equally important.

M.M.: What training does KPMG provide to new employees and how long does it last for?

M.P.: We organize an induction program covering knowledge about the Cyprus firm, the methodology that is used and soft skills required. From there onwards we provide continuous training.

Working at KPMG

M.M.: What are the most exceptional perks KPMG provides to its employees?

M.P.: Extensive trainings/seminars, significant international and local clientele, involvement in multifunctional projects, extensive global mobility opportunities and a hospitable and people-centered environment. 

M.M.: Are there any particular perks that promote employees’ work/life balance?

M.P.: There is a working mothers’ and administration staff scheme, were they have the option of reducing their working hours.

M.M.: Is there anything that makes the workplace special?

M.P.: At KPMG we have a friendly yet professional environment where employees can express themselves freely.

M.M.: How does KPMG foster employee relations? Do you hold corporate team building events?

M.P.: Through regular employee gatherings and CSR events.

Hiring Situation

M.M.: Has KPMG’s hiring situation changed since the advent of the financial crisis in Cyprus?

M.P.: Yes

M.M.: Have you experienced an increase in applications from graduates for KPMG’s job vacancies at the moment? 

M.P.: No

M.M.: How do you foresee the future of hiring at KPMG?

M.P.:  The number of new hires will probably be less during the next few years until the economic environment becomes more stable and growth begins again.