What to Expect at your Graduate Scheme Interview

Graduate scheme interviews can be daunting, especially if you don’t know what to expect.

It’s normal to worry about performing at your best during job interviews, even more so if you’re applying for graduate schemes with some of the best UK employers.

The fact you’ve just successfully completed your degree, lived away from home and mingled with a variety of students may well have given you additional confidence, but job interviews are stressful for everybody and it’s best to be well prepared.

graduate scheme tips

If you’re nervous about forthcoming graduate scheme interviews, check out the following tips so you stand the best chance of getting your dream job:

Telephone Interview                               

Many modern employers conduct the first stage of graduate scheme entry recruitment via telephone interview. This saves time and allows the employer to control the timing and direction of any discussion and screen out a large number of candidates.

Each employer will have its own methodology for carrying out telephone interviews, however, you should expect to be questioned on your CV, any work history and competency-based issues. It’s important to know all the details you have included within your CV, as you will need to refer to your specific skills and experiences in order to answer any competency-based questions which require examples. The ability to plan ahead for certain questions is invaluable, and so it is best to know your CV inside and out.

Prepare for your telephone interview by:

  • Researching the employer thoroughly and working out where your role(s) would fit into the organisation
  • Revising all the detail on your CV so you can answer any questions with speed and confidence
  • Thinking about different life experiences that might suit some possible competency-based questions.

Regarding your research, there are a number of things you should be clued up on. These should include:

  • A brief history of the company, alongside the structure and key people within the organisation
  • The mission and value statements of the company
  • What differentiates the company from the competition
  • Any values you share with the company
  • What your role would involve on a daily basis

For a more in-depth look at what to research, see our free information on planning and preparation.

You should expect competency-based questions to follow similar formats, for example:

  1. Describe an example of a time when you worked as part of a team
  2. What significant decisions did you make in your last role?
  3. Give an example of a conflict you’ve had with a colleague in the past, and how you handled it

Preparing thoroughly for competency-based interviews will stand you in good stead for any future interviews throughout the lifetime of your career, so take time to prepare and rehearse the types of answers to these questions that are most reflective of your life experience and personal qualities.

It’s important to note that accomplishments in themselves are not what all interviewers are after. Often, candidates focus on what they have succeeded in doing, but what an interviewer is often most interested in, is how the candidate has managed to achieve their goal.

For more examples of competency-based questions, see our free information on competency-based interviews here.

Personal Interview

You should prepare yourself thoroughly for any initial face-to-face interviews in much the same manner as discussed above for telephone interviews; but there are a number of additional factors to consider.

Although it may seem obvious, ensure you’re dressed appropriately for the interview; as it can have a lasting impression depending on the interviewer. Alongside this, ensure you come across with the right amount of self-confidence; enough to show you are confident in being able to fulfil the role and showcase your skills, but not to the extent that you fall into appearing cock and over-confident in your own abilities.

Success at telephone or personal interviews will probably lead to your final interview scenario: an assessment day or days, where you can expect to be head to head against other graduate candidates and will participate in a variety of role play exercises, leadership assessments and social situations.

Graduate Assessment Day

If you make it through to the assessment day(s) of any graduate entrant scheme with major employers you should expect a variety of role play exercises, tests, possible psychometric tests, group exercises and possibly individual presentations or exercises. You will have the opportunity to work as part of a team with other graduates who will be as well qualified as yourself, but should ensure your self-confidence and enthusiasm is on display throughout this potentially nerve-wracking experience.

You will receive information regarding the format of the assessment day and should prepare yourself thoroughly for any necessary presentations or additional interview sessions that are planned.

Remember that the job interview process is a two-way experience and you are also interviewing this employer to discover whether you will be happy in the workplace and if the company ethos is the right fit for you.

For more reading material on how to excel at your graduate scheme assessment centre, check our free information on assessment centres here.

If you are graduating soon, or have a graduate scheme interview coming up, Interview Skills Consulting can provide you with professional and personalised support to help you prepare yourself for the trickiest interviews. Contact us for further details.