BP - My Journey Into BP - Commercial Stream


My Journey into BP

Seeing as Wikijobs has been a real asset in my graduate scheme hunt and with me finally landing a fantastic graduate role with BP, I only see it fair that I contribute back to the website which helped me through this journey!
I applied to the BP Commercial Stream (Integrated Supply & Trading/Refining & Marketing) 2011


Pretty standard application with a selection of basic competencies, I strongly suggest that questions are answered in a clear and structured manner. Use STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) when answering and keep focused on YOUR personal contributions.
Lastly, of course keep your examples varied and impressive.


Having applied to BP in the past, I noticed that I was a lot more comfortable with the tests that I undertook this year. They were not SHL, nor were they your standard structure.

There were 3 tests- Numerical, Verbal and Analytical. If I correctly recall, there were 6 questions separated into two sets of 3 per topic.
So for example: You would complete 3 questions, take a break then complete another 3.
I may incorrect on the numbers but one thing for certain is that the second ‘set’ becomes progressively more difficult.

However I found the Numerical test a lot simpler and easier than SHL tests I completed in the past. Some less complicated percentages and statistical related questions.

Verbal was reasonable, the passages of text become progressively larger but question style is the same as SHL

Analytical was tricky in parts, there were questions relating to pattern sequences. For example, you are given a scenario where conditions are applied to a set of shapes such as bigger or change colour to black and using the information provided you must understand the following sequence in the pattern.


This interview lasted a good few hours; I got to my interview for 12:30pm and didn’t leave till about 4:30p / 5:00pm

The interview consists of one personal interview with a HR representative (third party) lasting 45 minutes and one technical interview with two employees from BP directly including one manager which lasted 90 minutes.

The afternoon in general was relaxed and nicely paced, you are given a great opportunity to mingle and meet with other candidates which squashed any last minute nerves I had!

The interviews themselves were very relaxed and not incredibly structured like other interviews I have attended.

The personal interview was more or less a competency interview with some discussion on what you’re up to, your degree and why the energy industry.
I only really talked about two or three specific competencies which were delved into by the interviewer.

The interview was incredibly relaxed and as cliché as it sounds, it was definitely more of a genuine conversation. The interviewer was very friendly too. It wasn’t an interview where very specific examples were needed or where the interviewer unloaded lots of competency questions and asked for more and more examples.

The technical interview was interesting, we were given 2/3 case study scenario’s where we were required to make decisions and highlight concerns or questions. One involved determining whether or not BP should expand operations onto a fictional island and the concerns that should be reviewed. The other case study involved deciding which location out of two, BP should build a refinery in.

I suggest utilising the paper on the desk to review the scenarios and you are given heaps of time to collate notes. Feel free to ask for things to be clarified or repeated if required!

I was asked to review advantages and disadvantages as well as concerns, dangers and issues to consider. You are given progressive information throughout the case study which will change the situation and you are tested on your ability to adapt your reasoning.

They are looking for your ability to review situations holistically and analyse the issues that need to be considered when making a decision.

Be as open as you think, even if it isn’t correct, it’s important to express your reasoning and decision making.

I found out the following day I got through to the two-day assessment centre which took place the following week


Very quick turnaround time had the 1-2-1 interview on Thursday and the AC took place the following Mon/Tues.

Candidates meet early in the first evening to get to know each other then are briefed about the following day. Again BP’s approach to assessment is refreshingly different and IMO more focused on relaxing candidates, encouraging them to mingle and generally find out the genuine person behind the candidate. This is reflected by an evening of dinner and drinks after, purely to meet fellow candidates, current graduates as well as BP Managers.

The day itself revolved around group activity, no 1-2-1 competency interviews or technical interviews, no e-trays.

The day was broken into around 5 tasks which revolved around the typical business process that takes place in the oil industry, from exploration to refining and marketing the product:

Groups are allocated; we were in a group of four which we kept with throughout the day.

First was a simple group task where you needed to come to a decision about which field to explore for oil reserves. The group is given options to invest in gaining additional information to structure the decision better.

Second task was a split into two parts, in pair’s you were required to firstly review options for extraction of the oil and then question a ‘manager’ who had experience in that particular method of extraction.

The next part was to collaborate with the other pair in your group who conducted the same task for the other options and within a group assessed environment we were required to make a decision as to which method of extraction/refinement we would take.I strongly suggest the use of the flipchart that is included to review the advantages and disadvantages of all options. I found it useful to define elements or characteristics that could be compared against each other to help come to a decision.

The Third Task involved a 1-2-1 presentation. You were required to review 3 business strategy options and pick one to suggest and explain the reasons why.
The three decisions were, Diversify product portfolio (move into biofuels and diesel), Specialise in gasoline products or sell a refinery.
We were all given a long 8(ish) page brief which detailed a number of topics covering the fictional business you were ‘working for’. Topics included financial strength/balance sheet of the company, current business operations, HR statistics, market information and competitor news.
We were given 1 hour 15 minutes (I think) to read through the brief and prepare a presentation (we were given a template to utilise)
You are then required to present your decision and the reasons why over 10/15 minutes to a BP manager and answer questions/rebuttals.

Fourth Task involved another group task which involved deciding on marketing options to sell product. You were also given some brief information about the market environment of a location.
The group task was similar to the first and second except that ‘breaking news’ and new information was distributed across the time of the task which required us to review and adapt to the new information. I suggest really clarifying what these changes mean to the group and the decision to be made.

Fifth and final task involved a 1-2-1 ‘reflective review’ on how you felt the day went and certain things that went well or that you found challenging. This was conducted with a BP manager and was a nice way to wind down the day.

The day is challenging and tiring but the pace was reasonable and the tasks were logical! The assessors were all from BP and were incredibly pleasant and friendly which made a heap of difference!

I was told the following day that I had been awarded a place on the BP Graduate Scheme

For anyone who is starting with BP September 2011, do get in touch or join the facebook group – BP Graduates 2011 – UK !

For the rest of you applying- good luck! And I will be more than happy to clarify any points if they arise.

This was done pretty quickly, but I hope it helps!


Thank you so much for this! I really do appreciate this. So, you didn’t have to re-sit the tests at any of the interviews?


Fadtastico is exactly on point. I was also at the assesment centre and in all there were 26 of us for which there were 10 available roles. Statistically speaking we had about 38% of getting a job offer.

We assembled together at about 5pm, had some dinner and drinks with some of the managers and recent graduates who shared their experiences about life at BP. I must admit, that even made me more eager to land that “dream job” in IST.

On the day in question we were grouped into four at started out working on hypothetical scenarios around the energy value chain from Exploration to Marketing (see Fadtastico’s details)

Task 1: Exploration: Deciding on a block to buy (Group Work)
Task 2: Field Development: possible technologies vis-a-vis the strategic implactions on the firm. (Group Work)
Task 3: Deciding on refinery options (Invidual work consisting of written assesment + presentation)
Task 4: Marketing (selling excess gasoline in the midst of uncertaintity) - (Group work)
Task 5: Refletive Interview with BP assesor about how the day went overall.

Conclusions: I did not pas the AC but the experience is something that 's worthwhile. Many of the guys were very intellectually astute and even though u’re not in direct competition with them you should be prepared to make your voice and presence heard. I suggest you give the tasks all your attention.

Wishing u all the best…Cheers!!!


I was wondering if anyone had been through the Commercial scheme, with an emphasis on Shipping?


I met a current graduate at the two day assessment centre who had a key focus on Shipping.

His role was as ‘Trade Operator’

As I understand it, he was responsible for logistically getting the oil from the seller to the buyer.

The trader would make the sale and the operator would physically move the commodity

Im hoping to get exposure to that side as shipping is a huge interest to me


I’m assuming this was for the graduate program Fadtastico? Did you have to do numerical and verbal tests at the assessment centre?



Yes it was indeed for the graduate program and no, did not need to do tests at assessment centre.

Good luck!


Hi guys,

I applied for the Graduate Petroleum & Reservoir Eng programme, and I have the 1st round of interviews scheduled on 24th Nov.

Would you please tell me what kind of questions to expect in the Technical + competency based interviews?

Also, do I need to revise some specific subjects for the technical interview?

Thanks for you help!


Hello stephanie

Congratulations! I thought the deadline for applications was end of December .
How did you got an interview so soon? Good luck!


I have an interview scheduled this Tuesday for commercial IST. Does anyone have an idea on what the difference is between the TDP role and Commercial IST? They both seem to fall under IST but most of the material online seems to tailor toward the traders…


Hey man. Can I ask what you’re credentials are (uni, grades, etc). I was thinking about applying to IST but thought it would be ridiculously competitive since everybody wants to be a trader. I’m probably going to minimise the risk of rejection by applying to Commercial Upstream instead.



Carrick - The TDP scheme is a specific trading graduate programme where each rotation is specific to becoming a trader and completing the “Assessed Trading Course” and ultimately become a certified, qualified trader. Its argubaly more competitive and roles are limited, i THINK they took on five this year? Saying that in IST they only took on maybe 9. The traders work within the business unit IST.

On the commercial IST scheme you garner exposure to other elements of the business, for example im on the commercial IST scheme and working within an analyst role for shipping, other elements of IST include trade and shipping operators as wll as the Chartering side. There is a possibility to still become a trader if you go through Commercial IST programme but would naturally be more challenging.

Wasted Fun - I applied to commercial upstream three time previous to aplying to cmmercial IST and getting through, not sure why. The fact remains though, regardless, I believe I was only selected for an interview having had experience running my own business within the gas and elec markets. I found many of the successfull applicants that bit extra apart from a 2:1 and some commercial experience, some had worked at other oil companies, some did a masters in energy econ., worked for DECC etc.

Key thing as mentioned in my original post - really know where you want to be and if it is the energy/oil and gas sector then commit and be able to demonstrate your passion through practical examples.

hope that helps and good luck - ps. ive been on the scheme for just over 3 months now and love it! really fantastic company to work for and im not just saying that, msg me for anything.


Hi Fadtastico, thanks for your advice but it came a bit too late- I was unsuccesful! I guess you’re right, you need to know what you will be doing and why you are interested in working in the oil and gas industry- My main interest is working in the financial industry so I found it difficult to answer several questions during the technical interview due to a lack of general knowledge about the industry. Saying that, it was very good experience and it has made me think about perhaps working in the sector at some point in the future, if possible.


Hi Fadtastico. thanks for your original post and all your advice.
Re: Candidates standing out. Would you say those with Masters, or oil specific experience were among the majority of the people you were with at assessment centre and the ones who were offered the jobs? I’ve got experience with energy/ utilities but not oil, do you think this would act in my favour?
I’m applying for HR at BP yet my degree is completely different from this commercial stream. Have you seen examples in BP of graduates entering without degrees related directly to their jobs? I couldn’t imagine working in any other sector, so any advice would be great.
Thank you.


I have been invited for the AC on 24 & 25 Jan. Anyone else in the same boat?


Is that for Commercial IST?


@cottageonrails- It is for Finance.

Does anyone have an idea about how many candidates they are looking to recruit in Finance & how many AC’s they have already done till now?


I! Had my interview last Wed and will be there on 24/25 - finance programme. Which one are you applying for? Best of luck!


Anyone else get an offer for the Commercial IST programme?


Hi All,
I will have my telephone interview this week regarding my finance programme in BP. Can anyone share some information about this competency interview? Thank you for your help~