She has been a Program Manager in GN for 3,5 years working in Group HR as a Global Development Manager. She sat down with Graduateland for a dialogue on what qualities applicants should demonstrate to make the cut for the GN Graduate Program.
You offer a Graduate Program within Marketing, Finance and Engineering. What do you seek in a candidate applying for one of these three tracks, apart from a relevant educational background?
This would probably not come as a surprise, but a huge part of what we look for, besides relevant educational background, is work experience - either from abroad or as part of one’s studies. The latter should complement the candidate’s theoretical skills. As a supplement, we also look for what you’d call capacity for learning. We have different tools to measure that, such as a traditional cognitive test, for instance. That enables us to evaluate the candidates in a more wholesome way. Of course, there are additional considerations we factor in when assessing applicants’ eligibility with a view to determining if they would be able to take part in a programme marked by a lot of variation. In this context, motivation, agility, and capability to handle sudden changes are all important qualities for us that we expect candidates to demonstrate through the entire recruitment process.
How important is an applicant’s academic record when applying for a Graduate Program at GN?
What I could say with absolute certainty is that we look for candidates that are above average in every conceivable way. Having shown outstanding academic performance in university indicates that you are serious about your career. Your scores and achievements, however, need to be supplemented by experience and personality as well as a strong ability to collaborate. The latter is a competence that we really emphasise.
Being employable in the current market is not simply reliant on the qualifications one holds and their school grades (though the latter are important). We look for dependable, committed and talented people, and will, therefore take into account both their academic and personal capabilities.
What's a mistake people make in the application process all the time and don't know it?
This is probably not new, but tailormade applications are highly recommended. As a candidate, you should always do some research on the company and incorporate that into your application. We need to see the energy and depth of commitment you’d bring to your endeavours and showing us that you have done your homework is a good way to demonstrate the latter. Company websites are a great source of information. We do a lot to present who we are, so you can evaluate what it is that attracted you the most and tailor your message to the specific demands of our company, the position you are applying for and your own personality. We like to see candidates demonstrating a genuine interest in who we are and what we do.
How does the assessment process for Graduate Program applicants at GN look like?
The first step of our screening process is all about finding out whether or not the candidates have the right educational background. A shortlisted group is then asked to do a cognitive assessment and solve a case. Finally, the selected few are invited for an Assessment Day. Other than the professional requirements, there are certain behavioural traits we look for - one of them that I already mentioned is the ability to collaborate. In rough terms, that is the process that they go through. And they have a second interview as well.
What types of questions do you usually ask in the interview?
Considering the high number of applicants, the natural question would always be “why did you apply for this Graduate Program?” There are lots of Graduate Programs in greater Copenhagen and we need to know what the candidates’ motivation was to seek our program in particular. We obviously have a round of questions where we seek to explore capabilities and personality. To ascertain if a candidate possesses the behavioural traits that we look for, we have a special set of questions. Further, we enquire about your work experience, whether you studied abroad, what kind of knowledge did you extract from that, how has it helped you to grow personally and professionally - that type of questions.
What questions should candidates always ask in an interview?
Generally speaking, I’d recommend that they reflect on what motivates them and what they value most in a job. I know that most of our candidates are just about to embark on their career journey, but they typically have some work experience. Drawing on the latter and being able to identify what’s the perfect fit for them, company- and position-wise, would also help them to transform those insights into questions for us. The purpose of this exercise is to ensure that the role you are applying for matches your personal and career aspirations. As a final remark, make sure that you have all the information that you need before you leave the interview.
Can you walk us through the day of a graduate programme employee at GN?
I know for a fact that days are varied. Graduates are exposed to different work - product work, day-to-day assignments, sparing with local stakeholders, and on top of that, they meet with a mentor on a regular basis. It is really a programme where professional and personal development goes hand in hand. Besides having normal job tasks, they participate in projects and they spend equal time reflecting on what they have learned either with a mentor, as I’ve mentioned already, or with their direct manager.
Does a Graduate Program at GN lead to full-time employment in the company?
Our long-term plan includes our Graduates. We put a lot of effort into the program and our Graduates are considered to be strategically important for us - it’s a way for us to build our talent pipeline. Our contract is limited to 24 months with a clear intent to match each graduate with the right professional channel after the program.