Experiences with the first (and arguably most difficult) stage of grad applications


Following a long period of being rejected by “lesser” ranked graduate schemes, I’ve recently had a swing of luck with 5 highly reputable schemes (including GSK, BT and 2 IBanks).

Most grad scheme competencies are similar, despite any superficial differences they demonstrate on their websites; they want future leaders with analytical, leadership, communication and innovation skills. While my application technique has improved vastly, I still find that answering seemingly identical competency questions with similar answers will result in success with one scheme, and rejection from another.

I think interview technique is a far more reliable indicator of skill. While I consistently fail to succeed at application stage (in part due to my mediocre A-Level results), I’ve been offered a job following every interview I’ve ever attended (6 part time roles, 2 grad schemes).

Could this be a result of bias on the part of the screeners? I’ve found that a large proportion of recruiting is outsourced, in some cases so well that it’s impossible to distignuish if your dealing with HR or an agency. From experience, I believe that agency recruiters apply less weight to the competency questions, and more to academic results. When the organisations HR deal with recruitment, I’ve experienced the opposite.

Any thoughts on this? What are peoples personal experiences? Does anyone have the opposite problem? (great at applications, poor results at interviews).


So far I’ve been good at both: I take a long time to write each application, and I’m lucky to have all the desired traits on paper. I made it to one assessment centre and failed (but found out from inside that essentially recruitment is frozen anyway due to mass redundancies!! Who knows?!), and have always made it to an interview (for around 6 positions). It’s going pretty slow so far so I don’t know where it will take me. I’ve been rejected too due to lack of experience in some cases (they took someone with 1 year of experience or more after graduating), but always made it to the last stage.

The key in my eyes is to user “Power Language”. Make a list of the language a recruiter uses on their website, and each have their own preferred vocabularies, then try and reflect this when talking about your skills. If you’ve got poor grades at A-Level, consider adding supplementary material about why this happened and what you learned from it, or put it into extenuating circumstances. It’s worth a shot!

Also, I do agree that dealing with call centres in India regarding my application is incredibly dissatisfying. Having non-UK qualifications, I have had to explain in great lenghts what my grades meant to some of these centres, and send them supplementary material, despite having the equivalent of at least AAA.


i agree with you both. i find the recruitment procedure to be long and tiresome, my advice is to do some of the minor requirements prior to applying, e.g. passports, driving licence, location selection.

ive also had 2 take drastic measures which are.

  1. do maths a-level, gcse maths & stats in june next yr

this will b after i graduate in jan!!!


also lesser companies tend to be more strict on grad applications as they have a small margin of error, meaning cant afford to make mistakes.


i find interviews with big companies a lot easier than smaller companies cos there aren’t as many resources out there such as wikijob!