Caitlin Pickford is currently on placement at Monmouthshire Building Society as part of her journey on the Welsh Financial Services Graduate Programme.
With the recent launch of the Fast Track Graduate Programme, Caitlin has put together a guide for graduates to support them through the application process having gone through it herself.
Step One: CV and Cover Letter
As a graduate, you may have little or no experience to refer to when applying to the programme, so drawing from other experiences such as any part-time jobs or university achievements is key. Most universities offer career services, so reach out to them if you need help with your CV.
Your cover letter is important as it allows you to go into more detail and showcase your ability. It’s important to tailor your cover letter and explain what it is about the graduate programme that appeals to you and why you’d make a good fit. The structure and readability of your cover letter are crucial so if you’re unsure of how to write an effective one there are lots of resources available online.
Don’t be let down by silly errors, make sure you proofread it before sending it!
Step Two: Online Tests
The online tests are a series of English, Mathematical and Situational Judgement tests. These are timed so it’s important to get the balance right to ensure you answer each question to the best of your ability.
While you cannot necessarily revise for these tests, engaging with example tests online may help you prepare before taking the tests provided by the programme.
The video interview is informal, and your interviewer will make you feel at ease. You will be asked about your experience, skills and what you want to achieve on the programme.
Consider having your CV and cover letter to hand, as this may help prompt you when answering questions during your interview.
Another tip is to make some post-it notes featuring some key points you want to include and have them close by so you can reference them when it’s most relevant to do so.
The main aim of the video interview is for the programme to get to know you better, so be professional but also be yourself!
An assessment centre is generally designed to see how you respond in a group scenario. Usually this stage of the process would be hosted by one of the employers and a group of graduates would face a couple of challenges while being monitored by multiple employers. This year however the assessment centres will be held virtually.
The assessment will involve three sections: a group exercise, an individual technical test and an interview with one of the employers.
During the group exercise, the assessors will be looking for the following abilities/ skills:
– Effective Communication
– Intellectual Curiosity
– Critical Thinking
– Problem Solving
– Ability to work in a team
During the individual test, you will be tested on your communication, numeracy, and analytical skills.
You will be presented with a simple set of data, which you’ll be asked to analyse and interpret in a short briefing paper (1 side of A4). You will have the opportunity to discuss this analysis during your interview sharing how you approached the task and the conclusions you came to.
There will also be opportunity to do some virtual network working. This segment will allow you to hear from a range of employers and find out more about the types of placements they offer. There will also be a chance to ask questions. This is a great opportunity to get a feel for the organisations you may be placed at and what you could expect from a placement with them.
It’s really important to make a good impression on all of the employer as you could be on placement with any of them.
Thanks for your advice Caitlin!