Sinead Moore 25 Jan 2017 11:18am

BDO widens entry criteria for trainees

The mid-tier firm has widened its entry criteria in a bid to attract hidden talent as it opens applications for 350 new trainees

As the firm prepares to hire its 2017 intake of trainees, BDO has moved its recruitment process online “to attract hidden talent and ambitious millennials across all socio-demographics”.

Online video interviews will allow for greater flexibility, improved efficiency and reduced costs in travel for students in the UK and overseas, the firm explained.

BDO also scrapped competency-based interviews in favour of strength-based assessments, and is now accepting 2:2 degrees (previously 2:1) and A-Levels and GCSEs from A* - C to better represent the demographics of society.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to an assessment centre where they meet with prospective colleagues and partners in the business before formal offers are made.

BDO said it expects more than 6,000 people to apply for the 350 places available.

Of the successful recruits, 165 will be graduates, 100 school leavers, with the remainder split between the intern programme (six week placement) and summer school (two weeks).

The 350 new recruits will take BDO’s trainee total to more than 1,100 by the end of 2017 across its four key programmes: graduate, school leaver, summer intern and summer school.

Paul Eagland, BDO’s managing partner said, “Trainees are the life blood of our organisation – they are ambitious, smart and flourish in an environment that supports individuality. We want to focus on an inclusive culture where background has no relevance to success. Widening our entry criteria is part of that; it is crucial that our student recruitment model is in sync with that vision.

“The impact of new technology on our profession is huge. The market is evolving and the candidate experience is changing. Advisers need to have a digital mind-set, think innovatively and provide clients will commercial solutions, and this is where students can really stand out.

“No matter how long you have worked in the industry or how well you think you understand a client’s needs, young people have the ability to make you see things differently. Our new and existing trainees really will future proof our firm’s success.”

BDO was named one of the five best companies to be interviewed by in the UK by Glassdoor in September last year, with 96% of candidates saying they had a positive interview experience when applying for a job at the firm.

The company's latest move to update its recruitment process by changing its entry requirements follows similar steps taken by other firms in the profession.

Grant Thornton, became the first professional services firm to remove academic entry requirements for both its school leaver and graduate trainee schemes in 2013.

PwC also scrapped UCAS scores as an entry criteria back in 2015.

The firm’s new graduate scheme filters applications based on university degree results and through online behavioural and aptitude tests. Typically, graduates will need an undergraduate 2:1 degree or higher. It says that by removing a reliance on A-Level grades it will boost social mobility within the professional services industry.

EY soon followed and dumped academic results in favour of its own aptitude tests for its 2016 intake of graduates, undergraduates and school-leavers.

The firm will no longer demand a minimum of 300 UCAS points – the equivalent of three B grades at A-Level - or the previously required 2:1 degree classification, in an attempt to “open up opportunities” for individuals, regardless of their background.

EY applicants now have to undergo online “strengths assessments” and numerical tests to assess potential.

The decision followed an 18-month investigation into the selection process, which showed that screening students based on academic achievement alone was “too blunt” an assessment.

KPMG also changed its interview process for graduates in response to feedback from millennial recruits last summer.

The Big Four firm decided to scrap the multi-stage interview process for its graduate scheme after a survey of their incoming graduates revealed that arduous recruitment processes are deterring millennials from applying for roles in big businesses.

The firm’s new approach, called Launch Pad, combines the traditional three stages of first interview, assessments and final interview into a single day.

KPMG, Deloitte, EY and Grant Thornton were all recognised as leading social mobility employers by the former Department for Business, Innovations and Skills (BIS) last year.

The firms were awarded for their work in opening up work opportunities to young people from all backgrounds, and helping to improve social mobility in the UK.

While PwC was not featured on the list, the Big Four firm was named as the UK's leading graduate employer for the 13th consecutive year in October last year.