How to ace your application with WTW

21 Jun 2023, 15:42

How do you go from graduate hopeful to high flying analyst at WTW? Early careers recruitment manager Cathryn Rousell gives an insider view of the path to success at this global financial services company, and lead actuarial consultant Roopal Beriya describes finding her perfect niche at WTW.

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Authenticity and commercial awareness

‘We are looking for candidates to be as authentic as possible. There’s nothing wrong with saying “I want to work at WTW because it has a great working environment and a wide range of projects and I really want to speak to clients,” but I would see that as a standard application,’ says Cathryn.

Instead you might say: ‘I met someone at an event and they worked for WTW and…’ or ‘I read something about WTW and that sparked my interest to find out more about…’ or ‘I want to work at WTW because I’m part of the LGBTQ+ community and WTW has an inclusion network so I can be myself at work and that’s really important to me’. All of those come across as genuine and authentic motivations.

‘We don’t expect you to know all the ins and outs of a particular business area by any means, but we do look for a level of commercial awareness – and that comes back to your genuine motivation for applying,’ adds Cathryn. ‘Show that you want to work in our insurance consulting, investments or other teams, and why. Use examples to demonstrate the “why”. Why have you applied to WTW? Why do you want to do this or that as a career? What has motivated you?’

Must I have an internship/work experience on my CV?

Cathryn explains: ‘An internship will give you an extra layer of experience to draw on from a competency basis, and by extension an insight into a corporate world. But everyone has a different background and reasons why they have or haven’t done an internship – the pandemic had a major impact and we know students feel concerned they’ve missed out on this part of their CV.’

You may be a carer – that experience makes you empathetic and highly organised; if you have worked in a fast-food outlet you can relate that to customer service skills.

‘If you feel comfortable talking about it, tell us,’ says Cathryn. ‘We are interested in other ways you have developed and we appreciate how tough some educational paths can be: to us, managing other events shows a level of resilience. We want to employ people from diverse backgrounds so we have cognitive diversity drawn from different degree subjects and are not just focused on one particular degree subject. It’s important to our diverse clients that we provide a diverse range of thinking and problem solving. We don’t just specialise in one industry in terms of our client base.’

Prepare for the challenge ahead of the process

The initial application process for WTW is short and consists of filling in personal information and uploading a CV, plus a couple of questions around eligibility.

If you meet the initial criteria, you will be invited to complete the online testing and two assessments – one relates to numerical, the other to cognitive ability. Then it’s on to the video interview, and in this you can draw on experiences from all parts of your life. It doesn’t have to be from work experience; it could be a project at university, a part-time job or volunteering, or being part of a sports team.

Roopal explains how she prepared for the process: ‘I used my university careers service and besides helping with interviews they had insights into interviews and companies’ application processes. You pay a lot of money for your university education and the careers services are there for you.’

She adds: ‘It took a lot of practice interviews before I believed that I had the skills and personality a company was looking for. The hardest challenge was to relax and look at the bigger picture – recruiters are just trying to find the perfect person for their organisation. They know you are in your early 20s and don’t really have any experience.’

What support and resources can students tap into before they apply and during the application process?

Cathryn explains: ‘We run webinars about our culture and sessions detailing skills you might need ahead of applying, then online coaching sessions on a variety of topics as you are going through the process. If you are invited to an assessment centre we provide a briefing and clear guidance about how to prepare. We can usually tell who hasn’t made use of the resources.

How can an applicant increase their chances of success?

Cathryn’s top tips

  • Make the most of the guidance and/or support sessions that employers offer during the process.
  • Take the time to prepare for interviews and assessment centres. If necessary, make a list you can refer to during the process because it’s not a memory recall test and we don’t mind notes.
  • Be authentic and genuine in your responses. We’re looking for people who bring something different to the discussion, so don’t be tempted to fit a particular mould.

Roopal’s top tips

  • Awareness, awareness, awareness. Awareness of yourself, the company and the market. This is a key skill that we look for.
  • Be aware of your strengths; think about what you are good at and how you utilise that. For example, one of my strengths is knowing when to hold my silence and when to get people to work together. We are a consultancy and making people comfortable enough to speak up – whether that’s a client asking for clarification, or a colleague – is key. People presence is a very big part of our role.
  • Also be aware of your weaknesses; think about how you can fix these, to show development and growth.
  • Use the internet and research the company/companies you are applying to. This is not just to do well in an interview – you want a company to be a good fit for you. Research all the competitors too.
  • Keep up to date with the news. Stop your social media scrolling and replace it with a news app. Yes it’s complicated and we don’t expect you to have the answers, but market awareness is crucial.

What is a typical role at WTW?

Roopal describes her job: ‘I started at WTW as an actuarial training consultant, which essentially entails learning everything there is to know about pensions in bite-sized pieces. My normal day job is pensions funds and dealing with clients, looking at liabilities and figuring out what we can do and how best to advise them in the face of new legislation, for example. I love that the pensions industry is ever-changing and you keep learning and growing.

I am a study mentor and support and guide graduates as they gain their professional qualifications. I’ve recently joined a team to connect talent, because pensions are so niche and it’s good to know what other colleagues are doing.

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