Bright Network alumni member Josh secured a role at a world leading technology consulting firm. After a year into the job, we caught up with him to discuss the industry and how to ace the application process.
What initially drew you to tech consulting?
The role was the most important factor to me – I wanted a client facing role with plenty of customer interaction. Having an interest in technology advancement made me feel like a good fit for the sector, plus it will give you the skills to equip you for the future.
What was the application like?
There were a number of stages in the application process, which were about two to three weeks apart from each other. Here’s what it entailed.
CV and Application Form
As with many graduate scheme applications, you were asked to submit a CV, alongside some application questions. There was the standard “why do you want to work in the firm/role?”. They also asked about how the firm compared to their competitors and commercial awareness surrounding the tech sector. You need to show a strong awareness of the sector, but also show how commercial you are, especially in roles which aren’t directly technical.
The initial screening was followed by a telephone interview. All the questions were competency based and they actively encouraged you to use the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action, Result) and spell out each part in your answer. Make sure you have thought about examples in your academic life and extra-curricular which show common competencies – in a telephone interview, you can have some notes in front of you, which helps. My interviewer was keen for candidates to be as concise as possible, so you’re likely to get marked down for excess waffling. Read our advice for acing telephone and virtual interviews to give yourself the best chance at success.
This was the most enjoyable part of the process for me, as it gives you a real chance to prove yourself across multiple tasks or exercises. I actually had the last assessment centre the firm did that year, which could have worked against me, as the firm said they only had two roles remaining between the eight candidates there on the day – it really is important to apply early.
The morning started with introductions to the firm and the assessors. The group exercise followed, which was a 45 minutes long and the scenario was highly technical. I don’t come from a tech background, so this was a challenge, especially as half the 16 candidates on the day were applying for the software stream. They had a better idea of possible solutions, but it was important to contribute ideas, build upon their thoughts and turn them into a coherent plan. They weren’t looking for my technical skills, but my ability to communicate and find solutions for the client.
We presented our findings for ten minutes and then had five minutes of questions. Everyone had to contribute to the presentation, so we split it equally and took responsibility to present and answer any questions on our given part. Some people tried to impose themselves on areas which they weren’t covering, but this didn’t appear to go down well with the assessor. Getting a balance between showing your skills and not taking over is essential to success.
Assessment centres consist of presentations and interviews
There were two interviews on the day, both about 20 minutes long. They were again competency based, but more in depth and reflective. You were only asked to give two examples of competencies in one of the interviews, and it was more of an explorative discussion about how you dealt with the situation and the outcome. The other interview was challenging and put you on the spot – they asked what made me a stand out candidate, which is always a trickier question than it first appears. I accepted my limitations, but highlighted my people skills and the potential I had to develop – something every graduate employer is looking for.
The final part was the Case Study, which was a prioritisation exercise. You were given a list of issues a client was having, both technical and business problems. The assessors wanted you to work out what should be focused on and why, and what could be outsourced. The presentation was around 15 to 20 minutes, so it was quite in-depth and you had time to create slides beforehand. My recommendation is to keep the slides as simple as possible – I only did one for the whole presentation to remind me and the assessors of the key points.
A debrief rounded off the day, in which the company told us a bit more about their current position and the aims for the future.
Use Bright Network’s guide to assessment centres to learn more.
What are your top three tips?
- Smile and be enthusiastic – it’s a long day, but it’s so important to be positive at all times
- If you don’t know, just ask. Don’t lie or try to blag anything. If you’re unsure, ask people to explain and show a real willingness to learn
- Bring your assessors into the conversation during interviews. Try to make it a back-and-forth discussion – it’s much easier to relax that way, as well as building rapport
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