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Grad schemes and flaming hoops

My first job interview was swift and painless, despite the 3 hour fear-fest on my way to the office. It lasted a grand total of 20 minutes and a couple of weeks later I was offered the position. Unfortunately, things are rarely that easy – something I’ve since discovered when applying to grad schemes this year. There’s plenty of guidance online already geared towards helping you prep for interviews and assessment centres, but I thought I’d share things that I’ve learned only recently.

Firstly, grad schemes will set up a line of hoops for you to jump through; some logical, some on fire… but if you persevere then you could end up working in a big name company or a more temporary role that will get you where you want to be in future. Either way, here are some of these hoops I've had to jump through…

·         Application forms – a necessary evil which, once you’ve done a couple already, feel like you’re writing an epic novel starring you, the protagonist, who bears exceptional teamwork, communicating and problem solving skills alongside an awesomeness that can barely be contained to one human so must be shared with others.  Trust me though, once you’ve nailed down your competencies you can basically recycle them as and when needed – see handy graph below...

·        Interviews – these can be done via a range of media; phone, face to face, skype etc. I once had an online interview where I was shown a question, given 30 seconds to prepare and then an app recorded my answer. Hint: Do these ASAP or you’ll forget and will have to do one on your birthday when you’re on holiday in Iceland, using your phone, balanced precariously on a pile of books while your boyfriend goes out to get coffee… also, the boyf hovers around outside while you’re finishing and you can see his silhouette through the window behind you while you’re recording. Cue a five second widening of eyes on your video...

·         Assessment centres – I’ve done a few of these and they’ve all been quite different. You may have to do team based tasks and/or solo tasks but trust me when I say you never have as much time as you think. If you’re asked to write a report based on multiple documents, do NOT read everything first (instructions aside). Write up important points as you read and add more detail as you go along otherwise you’ll run out of time without having written all that much. Some assessment centres want you to do a rap… that’s just grim.
There are also online tests but they’re generally a practise-makes-perfect type thing which you can find examples for online.

Good luck, may the odds be ever in your favour!

Anonymous, Chemical and Biological Engineering taught postgraduate

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