As graduates or current students, we (recruiters and graduate managers) don’t expect you to know all the answers, but we do expect you to have done your homework on the company and ask insightful and considered questions.

We can’t imagine you didn’t research before you chose which university/ college you wanted to attend, so that’s why we expect you to know about the company and role you are asking about or have applied for.

We want to be impressed when engaging with you- not be concerned that you don’t know a thing or are asking questions we know are answered on our website or graduate pages. Let us give you a few examples of what we’re talking about.

As Graduate Recruiters and Managers, we have all sorts of queries come our way, in many mediums, including social media, emails, on live chat, at careers fairs, throughout the recruitment process and even at interviews. We love questions and inquisitive minds, however we also love it when you have done your homework, so questions like the ones below really make assessors concerned and unsure if you really are the right person for the role.

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(tip: you will see UCGR thoughts to questions written in italics to let you know what we are thinking)

» So- what does your company do?

» What industry are you in?

» Are you an international or domestic company?

» Do you have a Graduate program? If you are at a graduate event or talking in a forum called “Graduate Program”, we would safely say yes… don’t allow yourself to look silly!

» So, I have a Bachelor of Engineering and want a job with you, what’s next? We honestly expect that you would do some research first and ensure that you know what’s next (ie, applying for the job by completing an application form!)

» How do I apply? (Really? With today’s connected lives, you would presume the company’s website or job board will take you straight there – or else google will).

» Am I eligible?- ALL graduate programs state their eligibility pretty clearly in either the job advert or their website, you just need to do some investigation. IF it’s really not available- fair enough, ask the question.

» What does your program offer? Again- the same as above, research FIRST and if you can’t find what you’re after, then ask, but UCGR is pretty sure this will be posted everywhere.

» List what your qualifications are and ask would I be successful? Without knowing rest of your background, work experience, drive, motivators, extra- curricular activities, academic history and career goals, it’s simply too hard to make that call.

» State “I am really keen to join your company and would love to work there, tell me what should I do be successful in the process?” Broad sweeping questions like this one is hard to answer and often, if you need to ask that question, it means you have not done any research on what the company is looking for in a successful graduate. We love to be helpful, but poise specific and deliberate questions to help you get insightful answers, such as “Can you please list the top 3 qualities your company looks for in a successful leader?” This will give you great insights into what talent looks like for that organisation and what you need to aim for in order to get there.

» Once I join, what can I do to get ahead and get promoted quickly?  As a graduate, we expect you to have drive, however we also expect you to focus on the current and your program and becoming CEO is a long way off! You need to prove yourself, your skills and drive in order for anyone to answer that question!

» Can you move me to an international role as I really want to work overseas? In some cases, the answer may be yes, but usually not in the first instance. Have a look at what the company offers before asking these type of questions, as it just sounds like you are using the company to get anywhere that’s not where you are.

» Finally – If we ask you a question like, what are you looking for in your career? What type of job, stream or area do you want to get into- you have to be able to give us some sort of answer. The amount of times we have heard “I don’t know, ummm, or I haven’t thought about it yet” is staggering. In the end, it’s a two-way street and you have to put in as much effort as the so companies do for you.

Other general things to watch out for if you are communicating with us in written format, such as email or a blog forum:

» Watch your grammar and spelling

» Don’t use abbreviations like ‘dis’, ‘dat’, ‘wld’ ‘b’ ‘vry’ ‘u’- it’s simply not professional.

» Use capital letters after a full stop

» Don’t finish your question with 2 or 3 question marks- such as ?? or ???, you aren’t asking your bestie for an update.

» If you are in a forum or live chat room, please read the other posts as often the questions are the same and you will find your answer there already, saving everyone time.

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» Questions with substance and depth that can lead you to powerful insights.

» Can you please list the top 3 qualities your company looks for in a successful leader? This will help you understand what attributes you need to display and develop.

» I can see your companies listed values are XX and XX, how does that reflect in the culture? This will help you know if the company is really somewhere you want to work.

» What does the Graduate program mean for your company?

» What are some of the challenges or complexities I may find in joining your companies graduate program? This answer will help you prepare mentally AND also help you answer any curly challenge questions that may come out in the final interview.

» What are the top 3 soft skills you recommend a Graduate to focus on and develop prior to starting in order to be successful? Again- this will help you prepare exactly what the company is after.

» What extra-curricular or volunteer work could I undertake which would broaden my scope and horizon? A great insight into what the recruiters are looking for in your resume.

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» Can you please tell me about a few graduates in my field of studies XX that have already completed your program and the type of work they are currently involved in?

» What competencies do you measure your graduates on throughout the recruitment process? You may not get an answer here, but it’s worth asking! Another one to help you understand what you will be scored on and how to ensure you display the competencies strongly. For example, a typical graduate competency is ‘the ability to solve problems and think strategically’.

» If you are concerned about 1 particular part of the recruitment process, such as assessment centres- you can ask a question like: “What do you measure candidates on during assessment centres and can you please list for me the top 3 tips you have to be successful on the day?”

» How long have you been with the company? AND what roles have you been in during that time?

» What do you enjoy most about working for XX?

» I have heard about your competitor is bringing out the new product XX, will that have an effect on your business and are you looking to compete and develop something similar?

» What would current/ past Graduates say about your program?

» What does your company’s development program involve and what are the modules? This will help you see what areas you will be developed in.

What we are trying to get across to you is that ALL interactions matter. At a careers fair, those students who STAND out from the crowd ASK valuable and CONSIDERED questions are highly likely to be taken notice of. You will find the recruiters may and will take your name down, ask you extra questions and want to spend more time with you. If your name is noted- that’s a definite bonus as you are most likely in the hot seat to have your name flagged as a great potential once you apply- (yes, this really does happen).

Remember that ALL interactions mean all stages of the recruitment process, including email, phone conversations, assessments, face to face, the walk from the lift to the interview room as well as careers fairs, live chats, blog forums and university engagements. These are all potential interactions and trust us, recruiters remember the GREAT students and the ones who asked the questions that DIDN’T IMPRESS.

UCGR’s suggestions from here:

  1. Review and remember the ‘do not ask’ questions and DON’T ask them.
  2. Prepare and practice (our motto) intelligent, insightful and considered questions from the ‘do ask’ questions list as well as create some of your own.
  3. Research and write out a list of graduate program and company offerings of the companies you want to apply for and use them in every interaction. Tailor your questions to each company for super brownie points!
  4. Don’t let lack of preparation catch you out.
  5. Use each interaction to impress & to your advantage by asking the right questions in order to gain the knowledge you are after.
  6. Remember every interaction is measured, so don’t be one of those students who don’t impress!

Undercover Grad Recruiter is here to help- feel free to ask us any questions you want to know the answer for!

Happy job hunting!

UC Grad Recruiter.

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