How to: apply for graduate programs

How to: apply for graduate programs


Applying for a graduate program can be a great opportunity for any student. But what do you have to do and know before you go through that process?

The process

If you are applying for a graduate program, you will need to do more than just send in a resume and cover letter. Graduate programs involve a comprehensive recruitment process and it really pays to be prepared.

Many large organisations use some or all of the following steps, so read on to see what is needed for you to be the successful candidate.

The online application

Graduate programs attract a lot of interest, so it is important that your application shines – only 20% of applications make it through to the next stage. Make sure you research the company thoroughly and read the application instructions carefully.

Remember your login details, draft lengthy answers in Word first and save a copy of your application for future reference.

Hot tip: Around 80% of recruiters will use Application Tracking Software to look for certain criteria to make the first cull, so be thorough with your answers.

The online test

If your online application is successful, you will be emailed a link to an online test with a series of questions (or games). Employers use this test to assess your cognitive abilities, personality and situational judgement.

Hot tip: Try not to overthink or ‘beat’ the test; natural responses are best.

The video interview

This could be via Skype or a webcam recording of your responses to set questions. It’s a chance for the recruiter or employer to get to know you better, assess your communication skills and find out why you are interested in working for their company.

Hot tip: They may ask about your extra-curricular interests as they try to figure out what motivates you and your organisational fit.

The assessment centre

You will head to a central location with other candidates where you participate in group and individual tasks aimed at measuring traits such as problem-solving, teamwork, communication, integrity and ‘cultural fit.’

Hot tip: Don’t assume introverts are disadvantaged – employers are not always looking for the loudest and bossiest!

The final interview

You may receive a job offer after the assessment centre but some employers include one final step. On average, only three applicants for every graduate vacancy will reach the final interview where the employer will ask technical and behavioural questions.

Hot tip: This is your chance to ask questions too, so come prepared.

To find out more about graduate programs and how to prepare applications, book an appointment with one of CSU’s Career Development Officers.

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