Baillie Gifford graduate scheme applications: advice for each recruitment stage

12 Sept 2023, 09:58

Securing a place on a Baillie Gifford graduate scheme is a stellar start to a long-term future in the investment management world. Find out what makes a strong applicant with insights from Baillie Gifford’s early careers manager Claire Stevens.

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Jump to: Application process overview | Initial online application | The first interview | The assessment day

Baillie Gifford, a leading independent UK investment management firm, takes the same long-term approach to the development of its graduates as it does the returns on its clients’ investments. ‘We’re a long-term business and we think the same way about our graduates,’ says Claire Stevens, early careers manager at Baillie Gifford.

You don’t need a specific degree to take your place on our rotational graduate programmes – investment research or technology solutions. For Baillie Gifford, it’s about demonstrating the right skills and behavioural traits, and articulating an interest in the organisation and your programme of choice.

‘We look for candidates who are interested in our business areas and our programmes. Standout candidates demonstrate a real drive, curiosity and a willingness to learn,’ explains Claire.

The Baillie Gifford application process: an overview

The recruitment process for all Baillie Gifford graduate jobs begins with an online application . You’ll need to submit your CV and answer some initial questions, including motivational questions around what draws you to the organisation and the programme. ‘We ask these questions in place of requesting a cover letter. The number of questions you’re asked varies by programme,’ says Claire.

Successful applicants are invited to a first-round interview , which will be an online video call. During the interview you’ll meet with individuals from the department you are interested in joining. Throughout the interview they will ask you a variety of questions to gain an understanding of your interest in the role and Baillie Gifford.

If you’re successful in the first round, you’ll progress to the final stage of the Baillie Gifford recruitment process. You’ll attend a face-to-face assessment day that provides the opportunity to meet with several assessors from different departments. For all the programmes you will attend a variety of interviews; for the technology programmes you will also take part in a group exercise, and for the investment research programme you will have an article-based discussion with investors.

Meet Claire Stevens, early careers manager at Baillie Gifford, who provides her tips on how to impress during the firm's graduate recruitment process.

A portrait of Claire Stevens, early careers manager at Baillie Gifford

How to succeed at each stage of the Baillie Gifford application process

Claire has some words of wisdom to help you submit the strongest online application and to perform well at Baillie Gifford’s interviews and assessment day.

Your initial online application

When submitting your online application, make sure to pay equal attention to tailoring your CV and to answering the specific application questions. ‘Your application is a combination of your CV and answers to the questions. You need to ensure you apply effort to both parts and consider what the questions are asking,’ confirms Claire.

Crafting your CV

Think about different areas of your life and provide examples of when you’ve used the necessary skills for your desired graduate programme (which you can find on the programme’s webpage), the responsibilities you’ve held and your achievements. ‘Tell us about your studies, dissertation, any extracurriculars or creative projects, and your work experience,’ encourages Claire.

Format your CV so that it’s easy to read and have it proofread by somebody in your circle who has a good grasp of spelling, punctuation and grammar. ‘Ideally, your CV should be no longer than two pages. It needs to have a clear and simple layout. Double check the spelling and grammar and make sure you’ve spelt our name correctly,’ Claire says. Use the targetjobs big guide to CV writing to put together the strongest graduate CV.

Answering the application question

Remember that you need to highlight your skills and achievements in your answers. ‘Think about how your unique experiences can be used in your answers to differentiate what you say from other applicants,’ says Claire. Don’t discount any experiences that you think are irrelevant as these may further demonstrate that you have the skills needed for an investment management career at Baillie Gifford .

The first interview

This is where the organisation takes the opportunity to ask you questions to find out more about your experience, interest in the role and why you have applied to the Baillie Gifford programme. ‘People describe our interviews as fairly conversational as we ask questions to find out more,’ says Claire. ‘We truly want to get to know about your experiences and interests, as well as why you applied for the programme.’

Demonstrating your interest means researching the organisation as well as your programme. ‘At this stage, we don’t expect you to know everything about our organisation and the programme you’ve applied to. However, you should have an idea of who we are, the services we offer, what your scheme entails and why you want to work here,’ she adds.

You can research the latest news from the company by heading to the ‘About’ section of the website. Also look around the wider website to read about topics such as how it invests, the type of investments it makes and the organisation’s culture. What is it about these aspects that interests you and can you link it to your own values, motivations and career ambitions?

Similarly, make sure to spend enough time reading about your graduate programme. Consider the different rotations and think about the areas that you might find most interesting and be able to talk about them. ‘We would expect technology applicants to be able to talk about technology and what is it that sparks their interest. In investment research we might ask a candidates to tell us about a company that interests them – perhaps this company has recently made a creative investment or employs an innovative investment strategy,’ Claire explains.

Your interviewer will also want to know about how your experiences have allowed you to develop the right skills to be successful in the role. ‘We ask competency-based questions because they help candidates to think back to specific situations that they can call on to evidence skills,’ Claire explains.

So how do you answer Baillie Gifford’s competency-based questions? Claire’s advice is to use the STAR method, which you can learn about in our article on how to answer competency-based questions .

The assessment day

Your assessors want to see how you’ve used your experiences from the first interview to prepare for the assessment day. ‘We want to be able to see that you went away, reflected on the topics discussed, identified knowledge gaps and improved upon them in the second stage,’ says Claire. ‘For example, did the interview ask you if there was an area of the business that really appealed to you or what do you feel could be the next big change within the technology world?’

As such, you’ll need to conduct further research both on Baillie Gifford and the department to which you have applied. Revisit the organisation’s website, as well as reading further. Look into current economic news and consider the affairs that could impact the organisation as a whole. For instance, are conflicts affecting global access to gas and, if so, how is this affecting investments in natural resources?

You’ll also want to see if there are current news stories that could affect the way in which the department you wish to join may operate in the future. You may look into how artificial intelligence is being adopted by IT and investment analyst roles and what the implications of this are. Or you may research how an investment management firm can adapt its business operations to be more environmentally friendly and the costs that this may incur. Perhaps you’ll look into potential motions to propose changes to corporate taxes and how this would affect a corporate accountant’s work.

Take time over your research to arm yourself with knowledge. ‘The reason for not receiving a job offer after the assessment day can be marginal, such as not answering a question fully, with breadth or depth, or not speaking in a group exercise,’ Claire reflects

A final piece of advice: be your authentic self

Claire finishes by giving a final advice point on the importance of being yourself throughout the Baillie Gifford application process. ‘We are not looking for a specific type of person, as everyone is unique and brings something different to our organisation. Just be your authentic self throughout our process. ‘

Head to Baillie Gifford’s profile in our organisation hub to learn more about its graduate opportunities.

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