After submitting my CV, the first stage was in taking several online tests, in numerical and verbal reasoning, for which I was given some advance warning and advice on preparation. These were very difficult to complete in the allotted time! The intent was for judging whether under pressure you could achieve a good balance of quality vs quantity.
My initial telephone interview was conducted by a member of their recruitment team and lasted for around 30 minutes. During this time, I was asked to discuss what I understood about the company and the role I had applied for, asked why I had applied (with reference to any relevant experience or proven interests), asked about my degree and what I had enjoyed about it, and finally asked a couple of competency based questions, regarding working in a team and discussing a time when I had been faced with a difficult work colleague. Finally, I was asked to ask any questions I had.
Most difficult question
Explain a time when you have had problems when working in a team and how did you face these issues?
Prepare by researching the company values and recent press releases so you can always ask a question about recent events if the interviewer has already answered all of the tradition fall back questions!
The company value individuality and a bubbly personality - try to remain positive and upbeat throughout the day, and be prepared to be adaptable in case someone pips you to the post to lead the group exercise. Someone did that to me so I quickly piped up and said I'd record what was said so we could present more effectively at the end.
Experiences at the assessment centre
Upon being successful at the interview stage, I was called to a full day assessment centre, which would also include a one-on-one interview with a member of senior management. This interview stage was first, and lasted for an hour. It was essentially a more detailed version of the telephone interview, which also allowed for a more relaxed atmosphere. Some main questions focussed on what I liked about the company and where I thought the main challenges were, as well as further competency based questions, some of which were repeated from the earlier stages. Following this interview, there were two exercises - one was individual, and required a hour of critical analysis of some arguments, selection of one to back, writing a report explaining your choice, and then presenting your explanation to persuade, one-on-one, a member of senior management toward your way of thinking. The second exercise was a group exercise, conducted in a scenario of a meeting preparing to present to the board of directors (in front of a board of examining recruitment staff) and then presenting as a group to that board.
The whole day lasted about 6 hours, and involved lunch and some chance to chat to current graduates.
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