1) Before applying: Do your research
Do as much research into the company and its grad scheme as you can, not just so you can customize your cover letter. Make sure it’s the right company for you in terms of how the scheme is structured, the type of work, and the company’s values. With so many schemes out there, you don’t want to expend lots of time and effort on an application, only to realise halfway through that the company isn’t for you.
Post Office’s grad scheme is designed to help you find a permanent role within the business when you complete the programme, so you’re potentially committing to 3+ years within the company – it’s good to get a sense early on of whether this is something you would be interested in.
2) Video interview: Practice
Scripted video interviews can be really awkward, there’s no denying that. The best way to overcome this is to practice. Besides actually doing them, have a go at generating questions you could be asked, e.g. ‘Why do you want to work for Post Office’, and practice succinct answers, stimulating the environment of a video interview if possible.
3) At the assessment centre: Behave as you would in the job
At the Post Office assessment centre, we were tested on a variety of skills, with a people-oriented focus, e.g. teamwork, communication and leadership. The assessment process is quite holistic, with recruiters deciding if you would be a good fit in the business overall. Consequently, I think the most important thing in this part of the process is to be yourself and behave as you would in the role on a day-to-day basis.
For me, something clicked in the Post Office assessment centre that hadn’t in others – something about the people and the culture made me feel comfortable. I worked well with the other candidates (some of whom are now my fellow grad colleagues), demonstrating that I was a good fit for Post Office too.
4) Face-to-face final interviews: The best opportunity to ‘interview’ the company
Applying for a grad scheme is a two-way process: it’s as much for you to decide if the company is a good fit for you as vice versa. In my final interview with two assessors, I took it as an opportunity to ask them lots of questions about the business and what I could expect. At this stage, I wanted to make sure I knew what my answer would be if I were offered the role.
5) Final tip: Resilience
Applying for grad schemes in your final year can be really tricky. Most people will receive a mixture of rejections and success, and when the process feels so extended and competitive, it can be easy to panic and psych yourself out of applications. My advice would be to practice resilience, and to treat each application individually. Your chances of getting any one job are independent of your other application successes and rejections. If you have an assessment centre or interview, that’s because the company thinks you have real potential to get the job, so be confident to give yourself the best chance of proving them right.