Part 2: The Application Process
Ok, so you’ve established what you want from a graduate scheme and identified the right program for you. Now you’ll need to get started on the application process.
Employers will ultimately assess your application based on your potential to add real value to their company. Your employability is best demonstrated through highlighting academic achievements, as well as skills gained through work placements, volunteering and other activities (i.e. team leadership at a local Scout group or football team). Employers want to see that you have not only put work into your degree, but also that you have developed additional practical skills that cannot be fully attained through course work.
If you’re struggling to list many extra-curricular activities, don’t worry too much. Any part-time work you have undertaken will have helped you to develop numerous essential skills, even if you never realised at the time. For example, working in a shop is likely to have helped you develop vital skills such as financial deliberation, time management, team working and communication - all of which are highly sought-after qualities in an employee.
Throughout the initial application process and into the interview stage, it’s absolutely essential to clearly communicate your desire to work with the employer and within their industry. At interview, this passion should not only be demonstrated in the answers that you give, but also in the questions you ask.
So that you can answer and ask questions effectively, do as much research as possible in advance of your interview. Looking through the employer’s website and social media channels for additional information is a great tactic. This will not only give you a better idea of the type of company you could be working for, but will also arm you with useful knowledge that competing applicants may not have discovered. Always remember that competition for these placements is fierce, so any extra knowledge may help set you apart from the competition.
As well as giving informed answers, asking relevant questions at the end of the interview will show the interviewer that you are genuinely interested in the job. Be careful not to simply blurt out facts you have learned – no interviewer wants a history lesson on their own company from a prospective employee! Instead use the information you have read to ask on-topic questions. For example, mention the company objectives and ask how the interviewer sees your role contributing towards these. Also try to find out if the role is a new position. If not, ask where previous employees who had the job are now. This will let you know what the prospects for promotion are and show that you are forward looking.
So, that’s our quick advice guide for successfully navigating the graduate scheme application process. If you have any questions or suggestions, please let us know in the comments below!