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Selection techniques within the accountancy profession in Scotland

Elizabeth Gammie (The Aberdeen Business School, The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK)
Erica Cargill (The Aberdeen Business School, The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK)
Bob Gammie (The Aberdeen Business School, The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK)

Journal of Applied Accounting Research

ISSN: 0967-5426

Article publication date: 1 November 2004



The ever‐increasing cost of seeing a graduate training contract through to its successful completion has made the selection decision, and indeed the choice of selection techniques used, increasingly vital. This paper identifies the selection methods currently used by the Scottish accountancy profession to recruit graduate trainees, compares these against best practice and highlights a number of areas where improvements to current practice would be recommended. Analysis of the selection literature revealed the range of selection techniques on offer, and from a consideration of the validity and reliability of each technique, it was possible to identify best practice in graduate selection. Data was collected by sending a questionnaire to 79 firms of Scottish Chartered Accountants. The targeted firms constituted the entire population of Scottish firms seeking to recruit a graduate trainee to commence in Autumn 2002 (as detailed within the annual ICAS Directory of Training Vacancies). Using the results of the primary and secondary data, the skills currently being sought by firms of Chartered Accountants in their graduate trainees were identified. The methods used by firms to identify these skills were then examined with each method being examined in terms of its current use as well as its value and effectiveness in practice. It was found that there have been significant changes to the skill‐set sought by firms in the early 21st Century as compared with a decade ago, with less emphasis on numeracy and more interest in softer skills such as communication and problem‐solving. As regards the techniques currently employed by firms to identify these skills, it was found that there has been some progress made over the last decade. However, the majority of firms are still reluctant to let go of what is now considered to be the more traditional interview‐based approach to selection, favouring this above what might be considered the more innovative techniques on offer. Further, it was found that few firms have designed their selection process specifically to identify the skill‐set that they have delineated. Thus, a consequent lack of consistency throughout the selection decisions was evidenced.



Gammie, E., Cargill, E. and Gammie, B. (2004), "Selection techniques within the accountancy profession in Scotland", Journal of Applied Accounting Research, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 1-51.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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