Grant Thornton takes on over 350 trainees in four programmes each year, including a graduate scheme, school leaver or intern placements. In its new approach the firm plans to no longer automatically screen out applicants based on their academic results. Instead academic criteria will be only one element in the selection process.
GT says the new approach uses key indicators to help identify good people, who fit with the company culture, quickly and more effectively.
Maria Floud, trainee recruitment senior manager at Grant Thornton, said, "We receive almost 9,500 applications every year for the trainee roles and our job is to find the best talent for our business. We're looking for bright, confident business advisers who have a passion for business and share our values and ambition. We've put our brand behaviours and cultural fit at the heart of our new assessment.
"Early indicators are that so far around 10% of the trainees we have found through the new process are those who may have been excluded before, but who will now be able to bring a fresh outlook and ensure an excellent fit for our culture."
A study in September rated Grant Thornton top of a poll of the best graduate employers for 2013, using 6,000 student reviews.
Attracting new talent has been a key theme for firms over the last few years. A report from the government’s social mobility tsar Alan Milburn said professions were failing to attract those from disadvantaged backgrounds. He pointed out the disproportionate numbers of graduates recruited from independent schools and the Russell Group by leading recruiters. He praised work done to tackle this by the legal sector, which he said was far ahead of medicine, media, politics and finance.
Last year PwC announced a fast-track recruitment scheme for its consulting arm, lasting only one week instead of eight. It has increased its number of overall graduate places by 30% this year, to take on 1,450 in total.
The large firms, which have always been popular choices for graduates, have seen soaring demand from graduates in recent years. PwC figures last year said there were 37 applications for every place it was offering, while EY said it was planning to double the number of places offered on its school leaver scheme to meet demand.