John, an international student in the Management Department, has had a lot of success at application stage and recently attended a number of assessment centres. Here he shares his insights into how to get through the different stages of the selection and recruitment processes and his top tips for success:

Application forms and psychometric tests

  • In applications use the full word count. If an answer says 350 words make it 350 words (or thereabouts, but not over).
  • Get your answer checked over to make sure your grammar is correct. As a non-native English speaker this is especially important to do.
  • Practice verbal and numerical tests.
  • Don’t stress about personality questionnaires. You can’t prepare for these and need to answer questions honestly. There may be questions relating to strengths so it can be helpful to know the companies competencies and values.

‘Phone and face-to-face interviews

  • Prepare – interviewers expect you to sound motivated and to understand their business.
  • Use notes in the ‘phone interview but don’t sound over-prepared. Use them as a prompt to remind you of the most important points.
  • Don’t try to memorise your interview answers. It’s not a memory test!
  • Act naturally and take time to think. Be yourself. Be authentic.
  • When doing the ‘phone interview record yourself on your mobile ‘phone. Listen back to your answers. This will help you learn/improve and will also help remind you of what you said if you get invited to an assessment centre.
  • In competency questions, interviewers will often ask you to reflect, analyse and think what would do differently. Be honest. They are not trying to catch you out but to understand you more fully.
  • Expect final interviews to be challenging and expect the unexpected. For example I was asked an estimation question in the middle of a competency interview! Don’t let this phase you. They are looking at how you respond to pressure.
  • There were a few case studies and estimation questions where I got things wrong and was corrected by my interviewers. I thanked them for their input and acknowledged my mistake. It’s important not to get defensive!
  • In a final interview in particular it’s important to make your interviewers like you! Be positive, talk about more personal things, ask them questions about their careers/roles to build rapport.

Group exercises

  • There can often be a long gap between interview and assessment centre. Read your application again beforehand to refresh your memory.
  • If offered a coaching session or to speak with recent grads before the day take them up on this opportunity and learn from it. I learned lots from these sessions such as ‘don’t use the same competency examples at this final interview as recruiters want to see different things to see that you act consistently across a range of situations’.
  • Think in advance about the questions you want to ask on the day.
  • In group exercises remember to collaborate and not compete.
  • International students can feel under additional pressure in group tasks as we often speak more slowly. Try not to let this bother you. It’s important to take control of your pace and speak clearly and confidently and make sure everyone can hear you.
  • Try to speak as soon as you can at the start of the exercise to get involved and to give you more confidence.

We’d like to thank John for sharing these insights and wish him the very best of luck for when he starts his graduate scheme here in the UK this autumn! If you have any experiences and insights you’d like to share with other students, please email us. Don’t forget too that LSE Careers is open all summer and can help you with every aspect of the job application process.