How to apply to a graduate training position

Graduate students working

This article about how to apply to a graduate training position was written by our guest, StudentJob, and published by the Great British Mag content team on 14 November, 2019

Before hitting the button to send off your cover letter and CV to your dream job in the UK, there are a few things you will need to know about the application process. 

What are Graduate Training Schemes

To keep it simple. This is a work-based training opportunity given to recent graduates. Whatever degree you have completed at university, this scheme will help you find a grad job suited to you. 

A graduate scheme allows you to understand the insides of the company and gain work experience to put on your CV. 

Unlike most schemes that offer you work experience, graduate schemes are full-time paid positions, that usually lasts 1 to 3 years. This means you don’t have to worry about getting a part-time job at the same time! One of the best perks about these schemes is that at the end of it (if you do a good job), the company will most likely offer you an opportunity to stay with them, so you don’t have to job hunt afterwards.

Which Sectors Run Graduate Training Schemes?

The list is endless for the companies and sectors involved in graduate training schemes. Here are just a few of our favourites… 

  • Finance
  • Healthcare
  • Marketing and Media Communications
  • Retail
  • IT 
  • Sales
  • Hospitality
  • Engineering
  • Public Service

When to Apply for Graduate Training Schemes?

The application deadlines vary from company to company, but it is recommended to start thinking about it in the first term of your final year, as there are limited spaces. Some companies do offer all-year-round applications. However, they can only accept as many spaces as they have!  Here is a list of application deadlines for graduate schemes in 2020.  

Quite often you will find the deadline is usually the end of November or beginning of December of that year. So get applying now! Not sure of what the application process consists of? Read the following sections to find out. 

Graduate Training Scheme Application Process


First things first, start with the basics of preparation. A tidy social media presence goes a long way in graduate recruitment. You do not want to find that you get through the first few stages to then get rejected on the basis that your social media shows off everything about your drinking habits. 

Research, research, research. You know the importance of this if you have just spent the past 3 years at university. Hopefully, you know what area you would like to go into, but if you don’t, grab a coffee and your laptop to look at your options. 

Once you have shortlisted job areas you are interested in, you need to make time to find out everything and anything about the job and company. There are plenty of websites to help your graduate job search, including StudentJob

Online Application 

Like most job applications, the first stage is an online application of uploading your CV and cover letter. It is handy to check out how UK CVs and cover letters are expected to be, as there may be simple changes from your home system, such as no photos on a CV. A tailored CV and cover letter is also a must. 

Take a look at these application tips to find out more about how to structure your CV, and perfect your application process as a whole.

Psychometric Testing

This is one of the most important stages of the graduate training application process, as quite often, it requires the most amount of time spent on it. Do not worry if you haven’t heard of it – because now you have! 

A psychometric test is designed to put your mental skills and logical thinking to the test. However, it isn’t all about your academic level. They are used as preliminary screening, so they also take into account your common sense and personality to identify whether you suit the role within the company.

There are two main types to be aware of, the personality test and the aptitude test.  

  • Personality tests focus on your emotions and your character and how you handle certain situations. This is usually through statements which you will say to what extent you agree or disagree with the statement. There are no right or wrong answers; the company will just see whether you fit with their values.
  • Alternatively, the aptitude tests focus on your cognitive ability. You will have to obtain a certain score to complete this successfully. These are usually multi-choice questions; however, sometimes, you will be asked for the reasoning behind your answer.

It is advised to practice as much as you can for this stage; you can never over practice! There are plenty of websites that offer free tests which can help. 

Make sure you keep an eye on the time, have the right equipment (a notepad, calculator and dictionary are recommended), and you find a quiet and clean environment so you can read the questions in peace.

Interviews and Group Assessments

Congratulations on passing the psychometric testing! But what happens next?

The following steps vary from company to company, although you will often have a phone or skype interview, or an assessment centre day.

Before you go to your interview, be sure to read up on interview tips for students.

The interview will be pretty straight forward, just the same as applying for any other job. You may be asked why you have applied for the job, about your past experience and explain some situations where you have shown certain traits or characteristics. 

An assessment centre is usually held in a specific location over the course of a day. Once arriving, you will meet other successful applicants so far, and you will complete a combination of tasks and activities. Although quite often, this is group work, the assessor will monitor your skills individually.

The Final Stage

Once these stages are completed, you may find that you face further interviews and activities. This can be very time consuming; however, it is worth it. 

So, good luck and enjoy your graduate training scheme! And remember, you may get rejected many times, but rejection is normal. It just means you get more time to practice and see what works for you! 

Guest blog written by Rebecca Hart from StudentJob UK.