Perhaps you are a penultimate year student who has their career path all planned out or perhaps you are like me and the majority of us who are intrigued by their future prospects and are unsure what the future has in store. Regardless, internship doors are now open and they are awaiting your arrival. As someone who has recently bagged an internship at a top FTSE 100 company here is everything you need to know about bagging an internship (based on my experience!).
Whether you are looking for an internship in the law field or the marketing field, employers are increasingly using the feature of online tests, known as ‘psychometric tests’ or critical thinking tests such as the ‘Watson Glaser Test’ used by law firms. The psychometric test is a level playing field: employer’s value them because not only does it make their life easier when 3000+ people are applying to their firm but it’s a fair way of comparing different candidates’ strengths regardless of educational background. The types of tests can include:
- numerical reasoning tests: assess how well you interpret data, graphs, charts or statistics. Can test basic arithmetic so brush up on GCSE maths and follow the links I’ll recommend.
- verbal reasoning tests: assess how you well you understand written information and evaluate arguments and statements.
- diagrammatic reasoning tests: assess how well you follow diagrammatic information or spot patterns. Can check spatial awareness.
- logical reasoning tests: assess how well you follow through to a conclusion given basic information, or using your current knowledge or experience.
- deductive reasoning tests: similar to logical reasoning tests. You are typically given information or rules to apply in order to arrive at an answer.
- inductive reasoning tests: these are similar to diagrammatic or abstract reasoning tests, and often involve spotting patterns.
- Situational judgment tests: the scenarios are always reflective of a real-life aspect of the job and currently organisations as diverse as Waitrose, the NHS, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Sony, Wal-Mart, Deloitte, John Lewis, the law firm Herbert Smith, the Fire Service and many more, are using SJTs as part of their recruitment process. It is the candidate’s job to choose between these possible options and judge which is the most effective course of action to take and therefore which action they would take if faced with this situation. SJTs are always multiple-choice;
Some companies will have tests specific to them but they will mostly if not all focus on the skills aforementioned so brush up on these skills! Alongside these tests there is also the ‘Personality Test’, an easier test in my opinion unless you really do not know yourself and you second guess everything. They assess your typical behaviour when presented with different situations and this will examine how likely you are to fit into the role and company culture. They will ask you to rank personality types from most like you to least like you and for this I suggest researching the company and its values as well as the role itself; a sales role may need you to be persuasive and sociable whereas as a finance role may need you to be more analytical in your thinking. However, don’t try to second guess what you think the employer wants to see – personality questionnaires assess consistency in responses and they may also be brought up in final interviews at the assessment centre. If you’re right for the job and the employer is right for you, you’ll do fine. If the job and employer isn’t looking for people with your personality, you’ll make a lucky escape.
Practice, practice and practice some more is my advice so check out these sites: https://www.assessmentday.co.uk/
If you are successful with the online tests you will be moved on to the next step in the recruitment process: the video interview (it really makes me question what I look like when my distorted face is looking back at me). Video interviews are utilised in order for employers to understand you, your personality and what you know about their company and the role in more depth. Typically, depending on the firm, it could last between 20mins-1hr. I did two video interviews that were starkly different- one just recorded my responses to data I was asked to analyse as well as asking me to draft a pretend email and the other was a more traditional video interview, recording my answers to 4 questions which included: ‘why the role’, ‘why the company’ ‘challenges faced by the company’ and ‘why you’. Some of the questions will draw on your knowledge of the business and the programme you’ve applied to; so, make sure you’ve done your research about the role and other questions will ask you about your previous experiences and achievements; take time before answering these questions to think of examples that really help us to understand your strengths.
Employers really just want to understand your knowledge of the company and the role your applying to and how you can fit in with their company culture. What makes you stand out and how can you link it back to the role and company at hand?- think about this when preparing your interview. I also recommend focusing on company values- why are you specifically interested in them and how do their values align with yours and align with their everyday business plan? Have a pen, notepad and copy of your resume on your desk so during the prep time you have you can reflect and think about what you want to say.
Dress professionally and be in an environment that is free from distractions.
Daunting but a very rewarding experience, you should feel content you have made it this far. The assessment centre could consist of three (if not more) tasks:
- Group exercise – Work with fellow candidates to meet a challenge that is encountered from time to time
- Analysis and pitch – Utilising some of the research you have done prior to the day,
- analyse of some additional sources of information, then pitch some insights and recommendations back to your ‘manager’
- Interview – You will be asked to answer some questions relating to your previous experience to further gauge your suitability for the role
The group exercise is designed to see your style of approach when working with others. You will be asked to spend some time answering some questions and making some recommendations together as a group. The task will draw on your knowledge, creativity and ability to work effectively as a team. You should be ready to share your thoughts from the research you have done prior to the day, but also eager to find out the views and perspectives of your fellow graduates. Remember, they are not looking for the loudest voice; they are interested to see how well you collaborate with others. I really recommend developing points or countering points that other candidates have mentioned because with that approach it shows that you can not only speak clearly but also listen well and build on/counter ideas from the others. I also recommend thinking about what you say before you say it. These exercises can be really daunting and it can be easy for your voice to get pushed to the back and you will find some candidates very intimidating and will try and ram ideas down your throat to impress the employer but really a candidate who cannot work well in a team will not get the job. A calm tone, listening, developing your own ideas and also having knowledge of the company and its culture and values when developing ideas will really help with this task.
The analysis and pitch exercise will give employers a chance to see your fit with the cognitive demands of the role. They are looking for people who are able to absorb large amounts of information, see the bigger picture, deal with complexity and ambiguity, and make rational decisions. The task I was presented with included creating a new product for the firm and selling it back to the manager. In this way I needed to look at the changes that were currently happening within the firm, within society and among the consumer and then utilise this information. I looked at the gap in the market and my knowledge of the products the firm already had. In this task they are not looking for the most perfect product, but in most analysis and pitch activities, employers just want to know how you think and why you think that way. You need to use your common sense as well as your ability to read graphs, analyse data/information that has been handed to you and create a convincing pitch. They also look for simplicity and efficiency in the way you present your views.
The final interview was my favourite stage as it is just a chance to do what I am best at for 45 mins: talking about myself. It is an opportunity to elaborate on all the information you have given the company in your initial application and also an opportunity to show they how friendly, intelligent, charismatic and hardworking you are. The questions may relate to what you know about the role, your past experiences (so memorise and brag about your achievements) or more generally your style of approach to various situations. Some questions will be competency based so make sure that not only are you bragging about yourself, but you are also *aware* that not everyone is perfect and the mistakes or minor faults you have made in the past are being worked on. You need to show you are a candidate that is constantly evolving and improving his/her technique and you are using your experiences to shape you. Even if you do not have experience relating to the role at hand it does not really matter. Use your achievements and extract the bits that align with the company’s values and culture as well as the skills needed for the role. As cliché as it always sounds you just need to be yourself, if you get caught out pretending to be someone that you think the employer wants it will be evident and they will not give you the role because how can they trust you will be consistent with it? The best thing to do is be yourself, brag about yourself, be friendly, deliver the knowledge you have researched and if they still reject you, its their loss darling. Rejection is redirection anyway. :)