Assessment centres: how to stand out from the crowd

I recently attended a Skills for Success session given by several interns from the Lloyds Banking Group. The talk was split into two parts; the first dealing with commercial awareness, and the second with assessment centres and how to handle the overall application process for banking internships. 

Commercial awareness is vital when applying for a banking internship and can be divided into different categories: economic (knowing the inflation rates and more specific reports on the industry in general); political (such as global and national government policy and legislation); industry trends (such as the main competitors of the company you’re applying to and also recent innovation in the field). Knowledge of the field you’re applying for really helps in an interview, as the other candidates will have similar qualifications to you, and showing that you understand the job you’re applying for can put you ahead of the rest. One intern giving the talk mentioned how his interview had focused heavily on just one report, so the extra knowledge really helped him to impress the interviewers. 

Although this session obviously focused on the banking industry, the ideas are relevant to other applications; in depth knowledge of the field you’re applying for will always make you stand out from the crowd. It was recommended that to keep commercially aware you should:

  • follow the news
  • research the company you’re applying to
  • research the company’s five main competitors
  • find out what makes your chosen company different
  • consider what challenges or opportunities the company is likely to face in the near future

The second part of the talk about assessment centres was far more specific to internships in the banking industry. Only about 3% of applicants are invited to an assessment centre, and around a quarter of those invited are offered internships. The main point stressed by Lloyds is that you should always present yourself as a professional, right from your attire to your interactions with the other applicants. Remember that you are always being assessed, even if you’re just having lunch or chatting to other people at the assessment centre. 

This session was really useful and, even though I haven’t previously thought about applying for a banking internship, the advice they gave about commercial awareness could be applied to any job interview. 

Ed (Student Blogger)

For more tips check out our guide to 'Interviews and assessment centres'.
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