Transport for London

How to answer Transport for London's motivational fit question

Highlight anything extra you’ve done that wasn’t a compulsory part of your degree.

You'll need to answer TfL's motivational fit question as part of your online application for its graduate schemes.

Motivational fit question: Please tell us why you have you chosen to apply for a graduate scheme at Transport for London?

The form helpfully breaks the question down into a number of points. Cover all of them in your answer.

Why would you like to work for Transport for London?

Translates as: what do you know about us and how does this relate to you?

Does not translate as: flatter us with lots of adjectives (prestigious, dynamic, multi-million…) to make up for poor research.

You might want to mention projects that interest you and why. Do the challenges of minimising noise and vibration associated with the proposed Northern Line extension mirror a module or piece of coursework that particularly interested you? Does its programme to improve accessibility for wheelchair users on the tube network chime with your own disability rights work? Or perhaps you’re a creative type and like the thought of working for an organisation that values the arts, such as TfL’s Art on the Underground and Poems on the Underground schemes.

What is it that interests you about this particular scheme?

Translates as: do you know what the scheme involves, and how this differs from other schemes of ours, or similar schemes with other employers?

A ‘compare and contrast’ mindset will help here. Read up on all of Transport for London’s graduate schemes, and on what is offered by different employers you are considering. Think about factors such as the scheme’s structure, training, support towards professional qualification (if relevant), the types of projects you are likely to work on and the skills you will develop.

How does the particular scheme you have chosen fit with your long-term career aspirations?

Translates as: are you actually interested in this type of work, or are you just motivated by the short-term need to get a job? Will you leave before our investment in you has paid off, and/or sit around doing the bare minimum?

Continue on from ‘What is it that interests you about this particular scheme?’ to consider the type of career it is ultimately likely to lead to, and contrast this (either in your answer or just in your own mind) with where other schemes might take you.

You don’t need to pretend that you want to spend your entire career at Transport for London, or that you have a really, really specific idea of where you want to be in five or ten years’ time. But your answer to the motivation question as a whole needs to be detailed enough and personal enough to suggest that you do genuinely want a long-term career in, say, management or mechanical engineering in the transport sector, and that you’re interested enough in Transport for London to want to stay on beyond the graduate scheme. NB ‘interest in’ is likely to be judged by the knowledge of the organisation you demonstrate in your answer.

Many of TfL’s graduate schemes include support towards gaining a relevant professional qualification. This is clearly important to the organisation, so mentioning your desire to become, say, a chartered engineer, will show that your hopes for the future are in line with what it wants for its graduates.

What relevant experience do you have (in education, work or outside interests) that shows your interest/commitment to the particular scheme for which you have applied?

Translates as: give us hard evidence of your interest by showing that you were undertaking relevant activities/using related skills before you happened to read about our graduate scheme a couple of weeks ago.

Connecting your past actions to the graduate scheme in question is vital. If you’ve studied a relevant subject at university, you may think you’re sorted, but don’t just state ‘I have a degree in quantity surveying/economics/business and administration’ and leave it at that. By itself, that simply says ‘I decided to go to uni rather than getting a job and I’ve managed not to get kicked out.’ Instead, highlight relevant modules, projects or work placements (and your interest and success in them) and anything extra you’ve done that wasn’t a compulsory part of your degree.

Also draw on experiences outside your degree, whether or not you studied a related subject and whether or not they sound glamorous. For example, if you’re applying for the customer experience, marketing and communications graduate scheme, your experience on the student newspaper is very relevant – but so is your Saturday job as a sales assistant.

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