Our world is an ever-changing one, so the graduate recruitment process too has greatly changed from what it was known to be. It used to be that to secure a job in your company of choice, you only needed to finish with a good grade. Oh, even before that, you only needed a degree; the grade was secondary. Good companies went to campuses to poach the best of the best graduates, while the ordinary ones (companies) had to lobby for whatever they could get. The competition was more on the side of the employers, while graduates chose companies they would work with.
But when did the game change? I don’t know! Just that the reality today is that in which graduates have to go through a schooling of some sort after their degree in order to get into their companies of choice, because gaining an employment into the giant companies is indeed a process. Yes, it is a process. The competition is now more on the side of the job seekers, while the hard work on the side of companies is to get the best that they would not have to fire anytime soon.
Did I hear you say, ‘it’s unfair’? No, it’s not fair, considering the sleepless nights, burning of your candles at both ends, taking the extra credits to graduate early, and the list goes on. However, nothing is fair in love and war – you’ve heard that before, right? And Job-seeking is a war of some sort.
So, talking about the process of recruitment, you will need this to prepare for the ‘battle’ ahead. The process seems to be pretty standard with some slight modifications from company to company. You have the initial online application, followed by an online psychometric test, a telephone interview and the assessment centre. The order can be changed in some companies, but then, the journey always starts with the online application and most times ends at the assessment centre.
So, what should you expect at the different stages?
A note of warning, never rush into the filling of the online application without knowing what you are getting into. Or if you have started already, you don’t have to complete the filling of the application at a seating. So, do some research about what to expect in the application of the particular company for which you are applying.
Then, get the requirements ready; your CV, your certificates and any other relevant documents. The rule of thumb is to have your dates on your fingertips and then, check to be certain. Your dates are very crucial and any mistake in the dates is a red flag to the recruiter that you are probably sloppy with your facts. Fill the form accurately and completely.
It has now become the norm rather than an exception for companies to include competency based questions in their online application. You need to use this to your advantage, because at this stage, this is more important than your grade and whatever work experience you might have. The impression you give with your answers to the competency questions determines whether you will be invited for the next stage of the recruitment.
Competency questions can be behavioural, technical, or cognitive. They are asked to ensure that an applicant have the requisite skills and personality that align with the mission and vision of the organisation. Find here some examples of competency questions you can expect during your online application:
- Why are you interested in working with our organisation?
- Give an example of a project in which you were involved that require teamwork.
- As a manager, do you direct the project or the people?
It is not a bad idea to have some standard answers to these questions, but you have to be flexible enough to adapt them to whichever situation you find yourself. You will find STAR method of answering interview questions useful here. And while crafting your answers, you should creatively work the core values of the organisation you are applying for into the answers.
For instance, if you are applying into Chevron, your competence answers should reflect words or ideas like Diversity, Integrity, Partnership, Ingenuity, Trust, High Performance, and Protecting people and the environment. You don’t want to throw the words just anyhow; that will be counter-productive, of course. So, you have to meaningfully and creatively use them in your answers. Remember, impression is what you want to make and it must be a very good and memorable one.
For most organisations, the next stage of the recruitment process is the psychometric testing. However, some can have the telephone interview come before the testing, while some very few may not use the testing at all. You can also find a company like Chevron omitting the telephone interview altogether. Whichever way they come, you should find out the process for the specific organisation into which you are applying and work carefully with it.
The focus of every psychometric testing is to assess the personality and ability of the applicant. So, for the personality test, you should be ready to fill questionnaires or sit for Situational Judgement Test (SJT). But what is common now is SJT and you should expect to write one if you applying for Eon or Shell.
The ability test comes in different parts, which are; numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, inductive reasoning, logical reasoning, abstract reasoning and some others. You should not be surprised if you are asked to write a test of English by Baker Hughes, especially if you are not a native speaker.
Success in these aptitude tests have less to do with intelligence, given sufficient time, an average applicant will be very successful at them. So, speed is a major factor and you have to be well practised to have it. If possible, you should know about the grading system too, it will guide your decisions. Some grading systems are not very interested in the number of questions you have answered but rather in the proportion answered correctly, while other grading systems penalise every unanswered question. Though, whichever be the system, you are always safe with a good speed.
We have a number of psychometric testing companies around. You should know which your company of choice employs. This information is important, because you will be able to practise with the right materials. You should also know the type of questions they administer too. For instance, ExxonMobil administers only numerical tests provided by SHL, Chevron administers logical, mathematical and verbal reasoning provided by Onetest, Shell administers personality tests provided by Cubiks, Citigroup administers numerical and logical reasoning provided by Talent Q and the list goes on and on.
What should you expect here? More competency questions and the discussion of your CV. The answers you supplied to the competency questions in your applications will also be examined for consistency. So, in the process of going through your CV, don’t forget; always have your dates on your fingertips.
You should choose a location that is suitable for this interview. In fact, you should block out some personal time for it. The idea is to ensure that you are not interrupted in any way. Moreover, ensure that your phone battery is sufficiently charged; any form of break in transmission is undesirable.
Here are some interview questions used by Shell. While you shouldn’t necessarily expect these questions, if you have applied for Shell, they should serve as pointer of some sort to what you need to focus on. So, get your mind prepared:
- Tell me about your biggest achievement.
- Tell me about a time you have worked in a diverse team with many contrasting opinions and personalities; how have you solved the issue?
- Why have you chosen to work with us?
Again remember, your STAR method will be very handy in systematically tackling these questions.
The Assessment Centre
The call to the assessment centre leads to the final lapse of this journey. However, you may have some event like face-to-face interview, just before the assessment centre day. Eon does this, especially for their engineering applicant and the focus of this interview is on technical stuff. So, at the assessment centre, what should you expect? Firstly, the assessment is usually for a whole day, except in rare cases when you have it for two, and you should be aware that senior executives of the company will be present; not only to observe and assess, but to also entertain any question from the applicants.
The line-up events for the day usually include all or some of the following; in-person interview, panel interview, group exercises, role play exercises, presentation and case studies. Every aspect of this day is very important and you should give it your all, because it is probably the last opportunity you will get to make an impression before you are given your offer letter. And don’t forget, your success here determines if you get the offer or not.
Mind you, it is not unusual for a company like Jaguar Land Rover to demand that you resit, at the assessment centre, the aptitude test you had taken earlier in the recruitment process. And sometimes it turns out to be a more difficult version of the one taken earlier. So, if you have gotten rusty, get ‘cleaned up’ and shining before going for the event. It is your big day. Make it count.
It will be my pleasure to hear the tale of how you made it to your company of choice and I do hope I am of some help along the way. Please, feel free to leave comments on my Blog or Forum on www.graduatemonkey.com.