Just thought i’d share my experience of the M & S telephone interview, in case anyone is apprehensive like i was the other day!
The interview lasted about 30 - 40 minutes, they asked a few questions about why marks & spencer, motivation for the scheme, what you most looking forward to, have you any concerns?
Then it was the competency part, had a few of these the Q’s were alright but there were quite a few! the pace of the interview was fast, i felt like you really had to think - suppose as you would do in real management scenarios! the ones i can remember were things like, can you think of example where you: led a team, explained objectives clearly, dealt with a difficult situation, had a new idea or showed initiative, made a difficult decision … etc. think there were maybe about 10 of these.
the interviewer was really friendly, just asked the questions quickly & like i said you really had to think! just found out i have got thro’ to the final round assessment centre, which i guess could be quite tough … any thoughts, suggestions or advice about that from anyone please share!
Good luck to everyone
What scheme have you applied for? I have applied for the grad selling scheme - fast track management and have my assessment centre on tuesday. I didn’t have a telephone interview, must have done well to miss that!
Just wondered if anyone has already had their assessment centre yet, and what it was like, what you had to do etc
Hi Jen_ek, how did your assessment centre go?
I had mine last week, just wondered how long it took them to reply to you with any news about the outcome?
Went well, not heard anything as of yet… other people I was on assesment have been finding out over the last few days so I suspect it will be soon.
I thoguht I was on the last assessment day so I didnt know that they had anymore… I have been waiting a month on tuesday to hear… Was it the retail management scheme you applied for?
What was asked of you on the assessment day? Do you have any tips on how to prepare?
thought i’d share my experience here - attended assessment centre several months ago but forgot to write up after, partly i think just got distracted with other applications & everything. Anyway wikijobs has been so, so helpful with loads of schemes only i don’t think retail is so well represented as, say, finance/ accountancy. So even though it’s late, i thought, for what it’s worth i’d write up what i found just in case it could help anyone next year!
Basically, the day involved several exercises; also early breakfast (i think everyone still so nervous at that stage however!) which was useful as an icebreaker tho, also chance here to talk with a current trainee on the scheme.
After, short intro session with all candidates assessors etc, then it was straight into group exercise. This was my first AC & i did find this hard. Basically there were about 4 business issues you read thro’ in a booklet, 4 of you then have to debate each one as if it’s a real board meeting. What i found so hard about this was being launched into it straight away. you really have to be quite alert straight away - advice would be, make sure you listen to the brief; remember what type of company you are, any info it gives you at the start so you can stay focused for the discussion. A few people in my group were very confident & i don’t think i contributed well. if you’re struggling to express ideas, remember you could always summarise at each stage, what has been agreed - this can work well. Also keep track of time!
For what it’s worth, i’ve done several AC’s since & usually quite like the group exercises, i just found this one quite hard partly due to lack of experience partly just nerves! i think they are easier as you do maybe one or two - so would always recommend going along to an assessment day, even if you’re not sure about the scheme as it is worth it if you can look on it as useful practice.
Anyway, after this there was a report exercise. Basically you have to read info about this fictitous store, expanding & decide where within the store you would place this new product range. have to write report justifying your findings, then prepare to present to regional manager. here, i found the report writing hard as it was so time pressured - key i think would be just to absorb a few key points, make your decision, stick to it, find the info to back it up! my report was not well written at all. Also didn’t have time to do flip chart (everyone else in the room did, which further unnerved me!) However, the presentation i found fine - my assessor explained you can do it however you like, informal - i think its more to do with how you communicate, can you argue well he also asked a few questions following from what i’d said but these were also fine.
There was also a role play where you have to act as a store manager, reviewing the performance of one of your line managers. this i again found hard! What i found most difficult, i think was assuming the authority & confidence of a ‘store manager,’ you really have to act confident, clear. After all this was the one to one interview! Everyone i’m sure was tired by this time, but in the end it wasn’t so hard the questions were really similar to the telephone ones. Not much commercial awareness, just one or two then loads & loads of competency! Make sure you know your examples, have a good range & don’t be afraid to ask for a moment or two to think. Also during the day was lunch, several breaks & a tour of the store.
Hope this doesn’t sound too horrendous or discourage anyone from applying! I think partly why i didn’t write my experience earlier was because i didn’t want to sound too negative but then i thought, as there’s so little info on here about M & S or other large retail schemes it might be helpful to share anyway. As i’m sure you can guess i didn’t get a place, but think that was for the best really. Having said that, M & S is a great company to work for & i’m sure the grad scheme is really good - i think you do several placements & are likely to work in Food, GM and maybe a few different stores.
Good luck to anyone who does apply!
Hi dozydodo, I just wanted to say thank you so much for putting up this info about the AC day - it really is very helpful and I really appreciate it. I know it was a long time ago but I hope you were finally successful!