TfL Offer a range of graduate schemes to both fresh graduates and those with experience. While they accept applications up to 4 years after graduation, there have been cases of people with up to 6 years of work experience post-graduation attending assessment centres, looking for a career change. Schemes include:
* General Management, which has two service lines: o Delivery – Station / Train Management o Development – Planning, Project based word * Project Management * Electronic Engineering * Finance * A couple more, all listed on the TfL website
For the majority of the schemes, no specific degree is required. The general requirement is a 2:1 degree from a good university (Nearly everyone I’ve met was from a top 30 uni, with a lot of grads from top 10 i.e. LSE, York, Warwick). On some schemes, a 2:2 is also accepted.
TfL really look for people passionate about the city of London. During all stages of assessment, it is important to show you want to not only work in London, but be a part of London. Stress the importance of the TfL network – If the London Underground broke down for just one day, the knock-on effects could be tremendous (I.e. Bankers not getting into work, Stock Markets come to a stand-still).
There are a number of key areas that affect the way in which TfL operate, and it is important to show understanding of these areas. While they are not explicitly outlined till the later stages of assessment, it would show commitment to career to at least be able to name these factors:
* Commercial * External * Global * People (Staff) * Customers
The assessment process consists of an online application, a situation judgement questionnaire, telephone interview, and 2 assessment centres.
The online application is based on the usual competencies, i.e. “Why would you be suited to a place with TfL”. Stress your love for the City of London, and your passion for transport, and making TfL a world-class transport system. Remember that the majority of grad schemes offered by TfL are office-based, so you don’t need to mention exact train specifications or technical details.
The situational judgement questionnaire is straight forward, asking you to specify your response to a particular situation. It is not timed as such, but you are given a certain amount of time to complete it. The questionnaire is multiple choice, and requires more common sense than anything.
Once again this is a standard telephone interview. It was conducted by Reed when I applied, but I believe that recently TfL recruitment has changed to in-house, so it may be by a member of the grad team. No particular preparation is required, but it would be good to read up on the TfL grad site about some of the current projects (i.e. Low emission zone, the interchange, DLR upgrades). Show a bit of initiative and mention how you’d like to work on these projects, and even outline some high level methods to improve them (I.e. on my telephone interview for Service Delivery, I mentioned the Tube-Cooling project, and how regenerative braking causes long term problems).
The interview lasts 10-15 minutes and is really just a chance for the team to talk to the graduates, and make sure that are enthusiastic about TfL.
If you’re successful at the Telephone Interview stage, you’ll be invited to an assessment centre. These are held in the rent-a-office buildings in London, typically on and near the Circle Line. For those coming from outside of London, this really is an excellent centre to come to – After mine I felt like moving to London straight away.
Make sure you eat beforehand, as only tea & biscuits are offered, and the day can get intensive. For most schemes, this is only the first of two centres – however for smaller schemes (i.e. electronic engineering), there can be just one, longer assessment centre.
During this centre, the main tasks are:
* Competency based interview – 1 hour long, but time goes very quick * Fast Track test – SHL test, tests reasoning and numeric ability. A series of cards are presented to you, roughly 20 per question. The cards contain details and you have to ascertain the connection between the cards. * A crude example would be of a deck of cards, with the Ace of spades being a blank card. By looking at the rest of the deck, you would ascertain that each suite has a certain number of cards, with there being 4 suites. From here, you could ascertain that since the heart, diamond and club suites all have an ace card; the spade suite is missing this card. Hence, you could assume that the missing card is an ace of spades. The test is similar to this, but more complex – i.e. using driver profiles in a taxi firm (each card has a name, position of driver, experience, car, engine size etc.) * Group exercise – 6 members. A board meeting for the re-development of a certain area of London (the area itself doesn’t matter). Each member of the group represents a member of TfL, with their own vested interests (i.e. representing the cycling association, local residents, and local businesses). The task is to put across your argument in a coherent, professional manner, while being receptive to the other group members. It’s a good idea to take initial leadership by offering to introduce yourself. While you’re not allowed to appoint a group chairman, you can position yourself as an authority figure from the get go. Make sure you write EVERYTHING down, as you have to write a formal report in the last 20 minutes of the task, outlining the decisions that were made, and what everyone’s proposals were. * As mentioned before, try and be ASSERTIVE, while being understanding of the other members. While putting across your opinions and the opinions of the people you represent is important, you have to consider the overall success of the project in order to do well. So even if you put across an excellent argument for the cyclists association, if their interests conflict with the success of the project, it’s probably a good idea to tell the group that you recognise the cyclists requests are in-feasible, and that success of the project is the key aim.
It should be a fun and productive day, enjoy it and do your best. You really aren’t competing with anyone, but make sure you stand out – firm handshake, speak with confidence. Show passion for the role.
Assesment Centre 2 is slower paced, and you get a chance to meet some current graduates. There is a waiting area, and there will be much less people, so get to know the people your with as this stage isn’t as much about removing numbers – if all the candidates are outstanding, they will all get hired.
There is a memory test which can’t really be prepared for; you have 10 minutes to read a brief manual, followed by multiple choice tests where you have to recall the procedures in the manual. There is a competency based interview with a panel, which is almost identical in format to the first stage interview (different questions of course). Be confident, and really sell yourself.
The key task perhaps is a 10 minute presentation that you have to prepare for – this will be assessed by a HR member, and a senior line manager. They will send you details 7 days in advance, so there is plenty of time to prepare. This is followed by a brief technical Q&A about your ideas, and some general questions (mostly from the line manager). Some key points:
* 10 minutes goes VERY QUICK – 5-10 slides is plenty * Include ALL Your information on the slides, as this will work in your favour. When they ask questions, they review your slides – if you include word for word your script on the slides, it is more likely they will ask a question regarding something you’ve said (and researched), as opposed to a random technical question * Once again, try and finish within the time * Your portrayal of the presentation is important, perhaps more than content. Speak at a moderate pace, in clear English. If you feel overwhelmed, slow down, take a breath. * Questions are reserved for the end, so don’t invite them to talk to you during the presentation. However, look them in the eye, and make the presentation as personal as possible. * The technical Q&A is said to be the hardest part – however, if you’ve researched your area and the material you are sent thoroughly, it should be more enjoyable than anything – it’s a chance to put across your opinions and ideas. I had outlined a number of issues with the Bakerloo line during my presentation, and was unaware that my interviewer was a senior director on the Bakerloo line! However, since my reasons were outlined during the Q&A, and I had quoted accurate figures in my reasoning (i.e. breakdowns increased 20% in Q2 of 2007), he was very receptive to this, and had a little joke about with me. I believe this was one of the key reasons I got the job, so show initiative, no matter what your idea is, give reasons and make it plausible. Be confident.
After this, TfL should contact you within 48 hours within a response. I ended up waiting 3 weeks due to a HR manager being away, but generally the contact is very good throughout the scheme.