Wednesday, 23 March 2016

High Fliers 2016 Research - the value of work placements

The blog article below is based on the findings from the High Fliers 2016 Research publication which is available online:

Lan Party Pictogram Clip Art
The latest findings from High Fliers research highlight the importance UK's leading graduate employers put on the value of work experience on students' CVs. This is reflected in the large number of paid work experience programmes now being offered by such companies.

This is all positive news for the students on Royal Holloway's Year in Business programme who need to secure a placement position for their 3rd year at University. Many may also seek summer internships/ taster days during their 1st year at University to establish the areas which interest them and also gain valuable experience for their CVs.

Research background: High Fliers Research, established in 1994, is an independent market research company which specialises in student and graduate research. This research study was conducted in December 2015 and reveals details of the graduate vacancies, starting salaries and undergraduate work experience programmes at the country's one hundred leading employers.  

Key Findings related to work experience quoted from the High Fliers 2016 Research report:

1. More than 90% of the UK’s leading graduate employers are offering paid work experience programmes for students and recent graduates during the 2015-2016 academic year – an unprecedented 14,058 places are available.

> At least half of UK's leading graduate employers offer industrial placements for undergraduates. (typically lasting 6-12 months as part of a university degree course such as Royal Holloway's Year in Business programme).

> Three-quarters of employers provide paid vacation internships for penultimate year students.

> Increasing numbers of employers now also have work experience places for first year undergraduates – over a quarter of organisations offer paid internships and two-fifths of employers run introductory courses, open days and other taster experiences for first year students.

2. Almost half the recruiters who took part in the research repeated their warnings from previous years – that graduates who have had no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful during the selection process and have little or no chance of receiving a job offer for their organisations’ graduate programmes.

3. Recruiters have confirmed that they expect a third of this year's full-time graduate positions to be filled by graduates who have already worked for their organisations, either through paid internships, industrial placements or vacation work.

 This High Fliers report builds on the findings from other research studies, such as the CBI survey (2015) which indicates that after attitudes/ aptitude for work, relevant work experience/ industrial placement is the 2nd most important factor considered when recruiting graduates.

Some of the employers who have visited Royal Holloway this year to talk to students about their placement positons:


Enterprise Rent a Car

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Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Interview preparation

Many Year in Business students are currently facing interviews as part of their application process for placement positions.

Interviews can be face to face, telephone, skype or video. Emma Baker, the Year in Business Careers consultant is also available to conduct 1:1 sessions with all Year in Business students to prepare for such interviews.

The Careers service provides comprehensive material & videos to help students prepare for such interviews

 Interview Without Speech Bubbles by GDJ

 Some important points to consider from the Careers' service website include:

1. Preparation before the interview is key:
> Research the Company/ role you have applied for (website/ contacts in the organisation)
> Practice with someone from the Careers Service.

Students practicing STAR examples at the Call back afternoon

2. The most common type of interview for placements are "competence based". 
> Employers decide the key competencies (skills) for success in the role - eg teamwork, leadership, problem solving, innovation - and they explore whether the interviewee has those skills.

Examples of such questions are:
> Teamwork./ interpersonal skills: "Describe a situation where you had to deal with someone who didn't like you. How did you handle it?"
> Prioritising : "Describe a situation in which a number of things had to be done at the same time. How did you handle it? What was the result?"
> Adaptability and initiative : "Describe a situation when you have taught yourself a new skill in order to complete a task."
> Proplem solving: Can you give an example of a situation in which you have had to analyse complex information in order to make a decision? How did you approach it?"

More questions are available for Royal Holloway students on the Careers moodle page

The standard way of structuring a response is for students to use the STAR approach (as taught in the Employability module)
  • Outline the Situation - the background.
  • Say what the Task was that you had to accomplish.
  • List your Actions.
  • Reveal the Result - what happened as a result of what you did.
3. Alternative interview questions are strength based questions or case study questions

 > Employers may ask strength based questions where they explore the students' innate strengths to understand how they will perform in the role. Questions may include:
What do you like doing? What things do you find easy to learn? What things are left on your to-do list?

> The interviewer may give a business case to analyse and discuss and will be looking to see how you discuss/ defend your ideas while also listening to other thoughts.

4. Telephone interviews are often used as the first stage before face to face interviews and have some special areas to consider.

> Use your voice to engage and show enthusiasm.
> Speak clearly : use brief notes to make sure you cover all the points you want and make sure you pause to allow the interviewer to interject.
> Choose a location where you won't be disturbed and if calling from a mobile make sure the reception is good.

5. Skype and video interviews are becoming more common and again require practice / preparation if the student is to excel.

Skype allows you to be interviewed real time whilst video interviews allow you to record your answers and send them to the interviewer. You will usually receive the employer's questions when you log on. Some may let you re record your answers but many will want you to do it in one take.
> Practice being on camera and using the technology.
> Find a place where you will be undisturbed : check the background is neutral/ clutter free.
> Always answer to the camera to give the impression of eye contact.

Emma Baker, Career Consultant is available for 1:1s with students

Detailed below are examples of recent interview questions from one of our Year in Business students.

During an interview for E.on Commercial Business Analyst (New Business) role
They started off with a motivational question : why this scheme at E.on?.

What issues (including customer service) do you think the energy industry faces in the future?
Do you know e.on's competitors and what they do?
Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to an unexpected change.
Tell me about a time when you had to change your ways to be successful.
Tell me about a time where you went out of your way to help a customer or team mate.

For Grant Thornton: Audit placement (Digital Interview)
Give a brief introduction to yourself. (1 minute answer)
They then asked a motivational question: why audit? (2 mins) and why Grant Thornton? (2 mins)

Tell me about a time where you took initiative using the STAR format. (2 mins)
Tell me about a time where you took ownership and responsibility for an activity or project using STAR. (2 mins)

Write about a time where you had to adapt to an unexpected change. (1000 characters, 15 mins)

Thank you to the student who shared these questions with us.

Wanted : Work Placements for Year in Business

Any companies with paid work experience opportunities suitable for high calibre Royal Holloway BSc Management students should contact

Our students look to spend 9 - 12 months in paid placements. They are available to start between June - September following their 2nd year. Students seeking placements have achieved at least a 2:1 in their 1st year and are looking to apply their knowledge of management theory to practical situations in the workplace.

For more information on Royal Holloway's Year in Business programme see here:

Employer Testimonials

Bill Dale  Executive Director and the Head of EMEA Product Management Nomura said of our Royal Holloway Management Year in Business student “It has been a pleasure to work with this student; his attitude and application have been really first class throughout. Over his time with my team his qualities have been very valuable to our business.”

Anne-Lise Rozies, Marketing Executive at GE Capital International said of our Royal Holloway Management Year in Business student : “All in all, this student has successfully delivered large impact marketing work streams and demonstrated a fantastic capacity to work with a large number of stakeholders to achieve a common goal.”  

Sarah Hamjah, CRM Project manager at Publics Paris, said of our Royal Holloway Management Year in Business student “I was very glad and thankful to have her with me during the internship. I think that this student grew with this internship , developing how to build a loyalty consumer programme with online couponing strategies and how to manage a big budget. This was a truly enriching experience for both of us.”

Samantha Meredith, Talent Acquisition Specialist at Enterprise Rent a Car said “we currently have a Royal Holloway student on placement who is bringing a lot from his studies to Enterprise: we really value the input from our placement students.”

Royal Holloway Year in Business students

Hippolyte Petit - placement student at The Walt Disney Company 2015/16
Gabriella Whitehead (left) - 2015/16 placement student representing IBM at a Royal Holloway YIB event

Sarah Hunt - 2015/16 placement student in the GSK offices

Royal Holloway 2nd year students, Diana Stinga and Kwok Lam, finding out more about placements at DHL from Kevin Webber, Head of Performance