Graduate program and student internship applications are hugely competitive these days. There seem to be fewer and fewer programs and more and more applicants. What that means for you is that you have to really stand out as something a bit special to be in with a chance.
The application process - what to expect
For both internship and graduate applications, the big firms attract a lot of applicants so they have quite structured processes. Here is what you can expect:
- An online application form
- Submission of a resume (and maybe a cover letter)
- Online aptitude and psychometric tests
- Initial screening interviews - maybe via video call or telephone
- Interviews and/or Assessment Centres
We are covering the first two stages in this article.
The online application form
Many employers now have online application systems in order to process the vast number of applications they receive. These will start simple but probably also have a section for ‘free-form’ responses to some tricky career, study and life experience questions. Although they will vary you will need to carefully think through your answers before sending off your application.
Those tricky questions - invest time in the process
Work on your resume first and use it as a reference tool when completing these sections. Read the form carefully before you complete it – writing and editing your answers offline is a good idea. Apply to jobs that you really want and take the time to do it properly. An incomplete or weak application response will not deliver an opportunity to proceed with the application.
Identify the skills and attributes being sought
These may be clearly stated in the form or on the firm’s recruitment or carrer pages. If not, research the company and the job concerned. Your goal is to use examples from your resume that respond to the skills and attributes the employer is seeking. Where specific questions are asked or opportunities are given to impress, be sure to use relevant experiences that showcase your fit for the role. In order to do this, review the experiences you have had – whether at university of in part time jobs – that have developed the skills being sought by the employer. Look at it from the employer’s viewpoint – is what you write providing the necessary evidence they need to show you have the qualities they are looking for?
Be complete, concise and correct in your answers
Read the questions carefully and answer them all fully. Don’t waffle, quality rather than quantity is what is looked for – make every word count. Remember to express yourself in a formal and professional way. An online application form is not an invitation to answer in a casual style. When you have finished make sure you have not made any spelling or grammar errors. Get a friend or family member to check for you.
Before you submit the form
Before pressing ‘Submit’ check that you have completed all parts of the form and attached relevant additional information such as your resume (if requested). It’s also a good idea to take a copy of your completed application and file it in your job application file ready for the next stage.
We have some more help and advice in our Psychometric Tests article.
If you get through the application process, you may find yourself invited to an assessment centre. See our Assessment Centres article for more tips.