By the day of the interview and despite the usual ‘this is an important day’ nerves, I was feeling quietly confident with the presentation I had prepared, not exactly dreading the group interview as I’m a pretty good talker (so I’ve been told!) and a little unsure what to expect from the ‘buyers exercise’. With it being a department store I had envisaged some sort of ‘best sellers’ identifying tasks or a discussion of the company’s product ranges.
The presentation went well and I felt I had given my best during the group interview. Then came the buyers exercise. This was not a ‘spot the best-sellers’ task as I had hoped. It was a maths test. A heavily percentage-based maths test. We were each given a booklet and asked to independently complete the task in 45 minutes – panic quickly set in! I was NOT prepared for this – all knowledge of GCSE maths on percentages was absent from my mind, stored somewhere in the ‘I’m 15, when am I ever going to need to know this?’ part of my brain. Even with the calculator provided, vague guesswork was the best I could offer.
As expected, I did not get through to the final stage of the application process. It’s just as well because the dealing with numbers aspect of a buyer’s job had sunk in since the interview and I was pretty sure that this was not my dream job after all. Still, I think going through the application process was massively worthwhile and beneficial - it taught me that things aren’t always what you expect them to be, even if you think you’re prepared.
1) Background Research – know as much as you can about the company you are applying to work at, specifically for retail. They will expect you to know who their target audience is, what products and brands they sell, which products or brands are selling well at the moment and who are their major competitors.
2) Revise your weakness – this is what caught me out! Most business related scheme will require some mathematical knowledge, so if you know your no good with numbers spend a few hours going over some of the basics you think the job might involve. That extra effort might make the difference between getting through to the next stage or not.
5) Leave ‘The Big One’ till last – if you have your sights set on a dream graduate scheme I would advise you apply for a similar scheme that’s less popular first. It’s likely that their application process will be similar and it’s great practice towards getting the one you really want.