If your searching this, either through google or on wikijobs, I’ve decided to explain the application process for graduate jobs with Arcadia in its entirety. I found that one I was applying, up to date information about the process was extremely hard to come by and it certainly wasn’t in one place. To clarify, I applied for the MAA role, so this explanation specifically focuses on this process, however from my understanding other roles such as BAA and Finance Analyst have similar processes.
Initially, I sent my application off to Arcadia directly through their website. This involves putting in basic information about your skills and experiences, and then attaching your CV and covering letter. You’ll also have to answer 3 questions at around 200 words each defining why you want to work for Arcadia, your skills and the challenges Arcadia is facing.
If you pass this screening process, which can be very speedy (mine took just one day), you’ll be invited to take an online maths test. This is around seven questions long and is timed, but is pretty simplistic at this stage. I am by no means a wizard at maths, just basic level maths skills will be needed to pass. You can simply use a calculator at this stage anyway since it is done from the comfort of your own home.
After sending this back, you’ll find out within a week if you passed (again, mine took under a couple days). If you fail, you’ll have the option to try again, so it’s not the end of the world. That being said, the maths is fairly simply, so you’ll have to consider if working with numbers is something you want to do if you can not pass at this stage.
You will then be invited for a video interview. Arcadia use a new video technique which basically means you one not be doing a direct 1 to 1 interview via Skype etc. You’ll have a few days to prepare and then you’ll click on the Arcadia links and formally answer the video questions that are timed. Your video is then sent to HR and they will watch it and see if they liked your answers/you. There are about seven questions that revolve around: why Arcadia? Why the MAA role? Your skill set? Your experiences? Is 19k starting salary to your expectations? etc etc. You’ll have about 45-60 seconds for each question. Its not about cramming in loads of information, just relax, say a couple of good points and come across an nice and likeable. That’s the main point here.
After sending off your video interview, it will take a bit longer for them to process it and get back to you. I can only tell you from my experience that it took around five days, however I’ve read that it can be much longer than this. If it’s been over 3 weeks, i’d recommend just giving the HR department a ring just in case, just to check it’s still part of the process. At the very least, you’ll put your own mind at ease!
If you pass the video interview, you’ll be invited for an individual/group assessment day. I say this because my assessment was on a 1 to 1 basis with no other candidates, however it can be as part of a group, particularly the BAA roles as they are slightly more competitive. I had a week to prepare for the assessment and it consisted of a PEST analysis (Political, Economic, Social, Technological presentation based on Arcadia), a short maths test, a hypothetical stock allocation exercise, questions based on your allocations results, then a short competency based interview. The assessment lasts aproxx 60-80 mins if you are individually accessed however I can’t claim to know how long a group would take. The maths test is rather simple and you do have a calculator, but you’ll need to know how to do basic ratios and percentages to succeed. The stock allocation revolves around using your common sense in that you’ll have to a set amount of stock between two UK stores. There are no right answers here, its just about backing up your stock allocation with good reasoning.
The presentation should be about 5-10 minutes and cover the aspects you feel are important. I’d recommend preparing well though so that it demonstrates you really want the job and have made the effort to learn Arcadia. The interview is competency based and will feature the usual questions as well as things such as ‘If a delivery error was made, what would you do?’, ‘what’s your availability’ and ‘any questions’. It’s important to show a bit of personality here because if you are successful, they’ll allocate you a brand and it is important they match you to the right one so you are happy.
I found that the HR people were quite nice and laid back during the interview. What I would say is that I felt initially that my interviewer wasn’t that interested in me and seemed a little distant at the end, however I think that they have a LOT of work to do at Arcadia and its more than they are very busy, not that they are disinterested. It’s important just to be nice and likable as you are people they will potentially being seeing at the office every day in the future.
After waiting a week I decided to call HR myself to see what the verdict was. This was on a Friday and I was told to call back again on Monday for my feedback. As you can imagine I wasn’t feeling positive at this stage. However, when I called on the Monday I was told I had been successful. As I mentioned, their HR team is very busy and they screen a lot of candidates so if you haven’t heard back after a week/two weeks, just give them a quick call. Do not pester them though! I they say a date or time to call back, call back then. You are not their only candidate! Again, my process took about a week, but it can take up to 3/4 four from what I understand.
After being told I was successful at the assessment centre I was assigned a couple of brands that I had been matched with. I then had an email asking me when I was available for my first brand interview with brand HR. After picking a date I then had a week to prepare a SWOT analysis on the brand/role I was applying for (Strengths, Weaknsesses, Opportunities and Threats) as well as preparing for interview questions. This was quite an informal interview where they go through your CV, talk about retail experiences, chat about current trends and competitors, and talk about the role in more depth. I found the HR interview very laid back and I think its important not to be stressed in this interview if you can Just relax, be nice and be yourself, show that you’ve done your research and you’ll be fine.
I then waited a couple of days and then received an email telling me I had been successful and that the brand would like to meet me again for a second brand interview. Dates are then arranged and then you get a chance to show your potential future boss who you are and what you know about the brand and the role. I was asked to do a SWOT analysis again at this stage, although it should already have been prepared at this point. I would say that its important to know a lot about your potential role at this stage so you can really engage with the department and what you’ll be doing on a day to day basis. This second brand interview only hast about 45 mins for me as a lot of the interview questions had been covered during the HR interviews. Make sure you know your CV information and the brand and it should be fine. It’s just to portray yourself as someone who really wants the job and a long term career. I felt as thought this stage, more than the others, it was important to ask lots of questions.
I was told that I would have my feedback and news by the end of the week, however the interviewer was really positive at the end of the interview. I waited until the end of the week and then received a confirmation phone call explaining about the job, the benefits, and finally a job offer, which I accepted (obviously!).
A few important points. The whole process took a fair while, around two months from initial application to job offer. Be prepared for that! Spin a few other plates if you need to. Secondly, if you don’t think your interview was amazing, don’t panic, I thought the same, and got positive news, it could just be that they are very busy! That being said, don’t give me abuse on here if you aren’t successful because its just an opinion ha! Thirdly, if you do really want the job, put the effort in with the presentation. They are informally timed and they show you really care about the role and that you took the effort when applying for the job. Just be nice and upbeat, try not to be too nervous, and don’t be afraid to call HR if its been a couple weeks and its driving you nuts. As long as you don’t pester or ask ridiculous questions, its a normal thing to do.
This is a long post I realise, I hope it helps you, or someone, or anyone. I found that I could really have done with some extra information about the process as I was going through it, so hopefully this clarifies a few aspects for you. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask/post here and I will do my best to answer them for you!