If this is your first application for a graduate training scheme, the different steps can be off-putting and consume a lot of time. These schemes can hire between a handful to a couple of hundred of graduates each year. These organisations that offer a training scheme are often large and have many prospective candidates, therefore allowing them a lot of choice for who they pick.
There are however, a few tips and tricks to make it more likely that you will be successful and speed up the process along the way.
Often the first stages of the graduate scheme application process is an online application. This is a number of pages where you are required to enter information about yourself, your work history and your eduction. This can take considerable time but unfortunately there aren’t many ways to get around filling this out manually. An online application can take between thirty minutes and two hours to complete, which is worth being aware of before starting one. Some fields, like your work history where you are required to write a summary of your responsibilities, you can keep in a word document and paste it for every online form you complete. Again, any other text boxes which require more than a sentence or two may be worth saving for other online applications.
After completing the online application form, often a company will want you to complete some online psychometric tests. Usually the email or page asking you to complete these is generated automatically after you submit your online application, which means that if you fail to pass these tests, your application will be discarded without being assessed. Frustrating as this is, unfortunately it is something that you must accept and sign up to when filling out graduate job applications online.
You should receive a link which will take you to the online psychometric tests, often supplied by a third party. SHL is the most common and is maybe a good place to start when looking for tests to practice. Depending on the company you have applied to, you could be required to complete anything from one test to six or more. These often include verbal reasoning, diagrammatic reasoning, logical reasoning, numeracy, personality and judgement tests. I would strongly recommend that you practice as much as possible each type of test, especially if there is a type that you haven’t faced before. It is easy to find out the tests you are going to complete before commencing, so you can go away and prepare before starting.
The difficult of the tests will also vary depending on the company’s way of scoring applicants. Some organisation’s want applicants to answer the majority of questions, whereas others may have a low average score such as fifty percent. The time allowed to complete each test will also vary dramatically as the organisations are testing different things. Some will want to test just the competency for the test, for example numeracy, whereas others will want to test this and your ability to cope under pressure; therefore reducing the time you have. This is another thing to practice when you are preparing before a test as you can often see the amount of time you will have and the number of questions beforehand, giving you an indication of how long you have for each question.
After completing the online tests, your application and test results will be considered and if you were successful in both of these areas, you will usually be required to participate in a telephone interview.
These interviews can be difficult, especially when you haven’t had any before as it can be difficult to get into the right mindset without being able to see the assessor. The interview will usually contain competency questions as more and more employers use this method to screen applicants. You will be asked to provide examples of where you have demonstrated a certain competency, for example team-work.
Having a few scenarios written down before starting the interview that you can used if asked, can be very helpful. Even better is having some experiences which could be used to demonstrate a variety of competencies. Having some prepared beforehand will stop you panicking under pressure and trying to make one up which can often lead to a poor score. Example competencies include: Can you give me a time when you: successfully delivered a project/task, had to persuade someone, failed a task, worked in a team, delivered above expectations.
There may also be a more general part of the interview where you will be asked typical interview questions such as: why you want to work for us, what recent news have you heard about us, or why did you apply for the … position?
You can then ask any questions you may have at the end of the interview, which you should fully utilise by asking relevant questions to show interest in the role and the application process.
If you have got this far then well done because this is often the final step of the process… the assessment centre. Companies invites between five and twenty-five candidates to their offices or a particular location to put them through their paces in a number of different exercises. They may hold many different assessment days but often you are not competing against the other candidates but against a set of criteria so in theory you could all be offered places.
You may be asked to participate in a range of exercises such as: a re-test of the online tests to verify it was you that completed them, a presentation or a case study, a group exercise, role play or interview. It is typical for an assessment centre to contain at least three of these exercises to give the company a broad picture of you as a candidate. Again there will often be time to ask more questions which you should utilise to get more information about the job and when you will hear whether you were successful or not.
After completing this last stage, you will normally be told whether you have been successful within two weeks, although it can be a lot quicker.