Interviews and assessment centres

CGI assessment centres and interviews tips for graduates

16 Feb 2023, 12:42

Our comprehensive guide supplies the advice that you need to succeed at CGI’s graduate assessment centre and interviews.

A candidate looking pleased after attending a CGI assessment centre.

CGI recruiters use the exercises in their assessment centre to learn more about you as a person and to see your skills and abilities ‘in action’.

The exercises in the assessment centre typically consist of an interview, group exercise and written exercise. Alternatively, in some rare cases your CGI interview may be held on a separate day or you may be invited to a separate second interview.

Read on for guidance for each stage of the CGI assessment day or use the jump links below if you’re looking for help for a specific stage.

CGI Advice : What CGI recruiters look for | Writing exercise | Group exercise | Interview | Interview questions | Asking your own questions | Final touches for your CGI prep

What do recruiters look for during the CGI assessment centre?

No matter whether you're applying for a technical or business role, recruiters will be looking to see whether you have the soft skills you will need in the workplace. whether you demonstrate CGI's values and whether you are genuinely interested in starting your graduate career at the employer. As such, throughout the day, you'll be assessed not just on your interview and the 'content' of your answers, but your enthusiasm, how you behave with other candidates and assessors, and how you approach the tasks.

How can I perform well at the CGI assessment centre writing exercise?

The written exercise at CGI typically takes the form of a report and the brief will be given on the day. As the report is not provided to you before the assessment centre, there aren’t any specific measures you can take to prepare. Instead, on the day, focus on responding to the brief within the specified time restrictions.

This exercise allows recruiters to assess whether you have the writing skills to produce formal reports and other essential forms of business communication, and whether you’ve understood the brief correctly. However, this does not mean that there is a sole ‘correct’ answer that recruiters are looking to see.

The written exercise is timed, so it's important that you manage your time effectively: you don't want to run out of time and only be able to submit a half-finished answer. It's worth spending a couple of minutes planning out your answer before you start writing. Make sure to leave time for a final check too.

Here are a couple of tips for succeeding at CGI’s written exercise:

  • Spelling and grammar are important.
  • Have a clear, coherent structure.
  • Ensure that each sentence and each paragraph flows on from the previous one in a logical manner.
  • Be concise.
  • Elements such as headings, graphs and diagrams can help to add clarity.

Find more advice for succeeding at your assessment centre written exercise here.

What does the CGI assessment centre group exercise entail?

Previously, candidates in groups of six-to-ten have been given a brief and around 30 minutes to prepare a response, which they’ve then presented back to recruiters. The exercise assesses how candidates work together as a team and how they communicate with each other. CGI will be looking at how groups approach the brief and come to a solution. The problem may be non-technical or abstract and no prior knowledge is necessary.

Past candidates have indicated they’ve been asked ‘how would you survive on a desert island?’, but there’s no guarantee that something similar will be asked at your CGI assessment day.

Expect to be assessed on elements of effective groupwork such as:

  • teamworking
  • communication
  • how you approach the problem
  • how you manage group dynamics
  • how you break up areas of responsibility within the team.

Avoid staying quiet, but remember that the goal here isn’t to be the loudest in the room or to force your point of view onto other people – it’s to work well together. Make sure you listen to everybody in the team and work together with the other members of the team to think of an appropriate response to the brief. You may be able to volunteer for a specific role in the group, such as being a scribe.

Like the written exercise, the group task is timed, so make sure you’re aware of, and in control of, your timings. A good way to approach tasks may be to split off into sub-groups and divide responsibilities between groups. If you're required to present ideas back to assessors, it's a good idea to leave time to do a practice run-through.

We’ve got an article that covers graduate assessment centre group exercises in depth for more guidance.

What will happen at my CGI interview?

You will have a one-to-one interview with a manager from the relevant area of the business. From what targetjobs has been told by CGI and by previous candidates, you can expect to be asked competency-based interview questions, questions about yourself, technical questions and your motivations for applying.

CGI’s recruiters will be looking for graduates to share examples of experiences – such as internships and placement years – that evidence the employer’s key competencies.

How to prepare for a CGI interview

Use these next tips to approach your CGI interview preparation.

  • Read up on CGI’s core competencies on the application hints and tips section of its website. The best thing is to consider how you used or developed those competencies during your course, internships, employment history, gap years and extracurricular activities.
  • Research CGI and make a note of your sources. Look outside of the business, too, and see what other companies are doing. Be aware of some of CGI’s projects and the industries it works in.
  • Look up CGI's corporate values and culture – recruiters will be using the assessment centre to see whether you will fit into its working culture.
  • Make sure you know about the industry and the role you are applying for. By the time of the assessment centre, you’ll have already been placed in a specific area during the screening telephone call. Your interview answers should reflect the role and industry that you are applying for.
  • Practise explaining your technical knowledge and skills, such as your programming language skills – specific examples will always help to illustrate examples.

It’s a good idea to practise answering common interview questions to come up with answers. You can practise interview questions with your family and friends, or sign up for a mock interview with your university’s career service. You can also check out targetjobs’ article on the top nine tricky interview questions and how to answer them .

Will there be a technical interview?

If you are asked technical questions, they will be based around the area of the business you have applied to and the skills listed in the job description (eg Java programming). CGI expects candidates for technical roles to explain the technical knowledge and skills they have, how they learned these skills, how they’ve used these skills and whether they know the theory behind their knowledge.

Previous graduate CGI interview questions

Here are some previous CGI graduate interview questions, with advice on how you might approach something like them. Keep in mind, though, that interview questions can and do vary from year to year.

Past CGI interview question: Why have you applied to CGI?

Try to think of things that interest you about CGI, such as its sustainability efforts or its work in a wide variety of different sectors (such as health, financial services, oil and gas, and transport, to name a few).

Interviews are an opportunity to expand and develop on the answers you submitted in your application form. You will have been matched to a specific industry within CGI during the screening telephone interview before the assessment day. As well as speaking about the company as a whole, therefore, make sure your answer reflects the role you are applying for.

In addition to ascertaining your enthusiasm for the role and interest in the organisation, when recruiters ask this question, they are seeking evidence that you have done your research . CGI often publish case studies and reports on its website, which you can read for more details about specific projects that the company has been involved in.

This advice piece on researching graduate employers will give you more detailed advice on building your employer knowledge.

Past CGI interview question: What do you think you will be doing in this role?

This question is designed to find out what you know about the job you're applying for and whether you've made a considered career choice. The best way to answer is to come armed with a good knowledge of the relevant CGI graduate scheme and the types of projects involved. You can find useful information in the FAQs section on the company's graduate careers website. Make use of any opportunities to speak to any current graduates at CGI, such as during recruitment fairs, networking events or assessment centres. You can also read about CGI by visiting its targetjobs organisation hub.

Past CGI interview question: Tell me about a time when you have dealt with failure

Much like questions about weaknesses, this can be tricky; having to discuss a negative experience or trait can seem daunting. Notice that the question is asking about how you dealt with failure, as opposed to the failure itself – so, beyond providing necessary context, it’s best not to spend too long recounting details if it will only show you in a negative light.

Instead, show that you are able to learn from your mistakes and that you have the determination to recover from setbacks, which tie in closely with CGI's 'resilience and commitment to excellence' competency.

You could even use this question to show how you have developed key skills: for example, if you received a poor grade in a group project because you failed to communicate effectively with the team, you can show how the experience has changed your behaviour and improved both your communication and collaborative working skills. Above all, it's important to show that you understand where you originally went wrong and that you have taken steps to rectify the problem.

For more insights into tackling this CGI interview question, see our article about answering the tricky interview question ‘what has been your biggest failure? ’. This question draws similarities with CGI’s and provides more in-depth advice on answering.

Past CGI interview question: Tell me about a time you went the extra mile for a customer

By ‘extra mile’, CGI are asking for an example of when you went above and beyond your contractual expectations and not just for an example of when you displayed good customer service. If you have an example from a job or internship, this is ideal. CGI specifies that communication (both oral and written) is a key skill for its graduates, so recruiters will be looking out for this as well examples of times you worked with customers.

For example, perhaps you worked late to deal with a customer's last-minute request or change of brief, or to solve a problem for them. It’s important to remember that your example doesn't have to be technology-related: maybe you worked in a shop and had to sort out a tricky problem with a faulty product or delayed order.

If you don't have an example from working life, think flexibly about who could be classed as a 'customer'. For example, perhaps you are a member of the committee of a university society and you turned up at midnight to rescue a fellow student's dissertation from a crashing computer. Or maybe you took charge of sound effects for a student show and worked flat-out to make the director's requested changes in the 24 hours between the tech and the dress rehearsal.

To read more detailed advice on demonstrating sound customer service skills, see our article on what customer service skills are and how to show them off to employers .

Past CGI interview question: Describe a challenge you overcame

It’s important to understand that the word ‘challenge’ means overcoming a stretching ambition and that it is not synonymous with the word ‘problem’.

Try to choose an example that tested you and required perseverance. Your answer will give the interviewer some indication of what you consider challenging, so if you talk about something you didn't really struggle with it will give the impression that you are less able than you are.

You could talk about a challenge from any area of your life: it could be an academic challenge such as a module that you found particularly difficult, a work-based challenge such as overcoming your nerves when presenting to clients, or even a physical challenge such as completing the Three Peaks Challenge for charity.

Whatever your example, make sure you emphasise how you overcame the challenge and how this has benefited you in the long run. You could also bring in some of CGI's competencies here, for example how you applied your intellect or worked collaboratively to tackle your challenge.

Other past CGI interview questions on commercial acumen

CGI looks for candidates with a good level of commercial acumen and knowledge of the company. As well as asking questions about graduates' own experiences in a commercial environment, CGI has also asked previous candidates questions about its business, services, markets, and competitors, such as:

  • Name one of CGI's key competitors. How do they compare?
  • What are some of the current trends in IT?

Questions of this kind not only demonstrate your research skills and your ability to keep up to date with what's happening in the industry, but also give you a chance to show that you are able to analyse market trends and form conclusions. This is a particularly important skill for a company that specialises in coming up with bespoke solutions for its clients, so think carefully before answering.

Be sure to bring your CGI commercial knowledge up to speed with our dedicated guide on developing commercial awareness.

Past CGI technical interview questions

Some previous CGI technical interview questions have included:

  • What is SSL (secure sockets layer)?
  • What is OSI (open systems interconnected)?
  • Tell me about your final year project.
  • What do you know about Oracle databases?

Further examples of past CGI interview questions

Graduate employees of CGI have shared with targetjobs their interview experiences with the company. Here is what they have to say:

  • ‘We talked about my previous work experience and what I had learned from it. There were also questions around what I knew about CGI.’
  • 'There were questions about my course, skills and hobbies listed [on my application].'
  • ‘There were the normal competency questions about teamwork, leadership and my past projects and experience.’
  • 'I was asked situational questions based around various desired qualities. An example would be: tell me about a time when you disagreed with a co-worker and how you went about resolving it.'
  • 'I was asked about my previous employment and volunteering activities. I also had to provide examples of my experience in conflict resolution and meeting deadlines.'
  • ‘I was mainly asked about the types of technologies I had used, the projects I had worked on and what they involved. There were also some general questions about my work experience outside of university and there was some general chat about me as a person.'

Asking your own questions at the CGI assessment centre and interview

The assessment centre and its interview aren’t just for the organisation’s benefit; it’s also the best time for you to learn more about what CGI will be like as an employer. Arriving to the day prepared with considerate questions will allow you to leave the assessment day feeling confident about whether CGI’s the place you would like to work.

Think about the elements of the job and CGI that you want to learn more about to come up with questions. What specific aspects of the role responsibilities would you like to know more about? Or perhaps you want to learn more about a specific project? Just make sure to revisit your research notes first, to ensure that you haven’t already found the answer to one of your questions.

Having effective questions lined up before your CGI assessment day is essential and targetjobs advises you on good interview questions to ask in this article.

Add the final touches with a targetjobs graduate account

Want more from targetjobs? Then set yourself up with a free targetjobs graduate account . You’ll get tailored advice content recommended to you based on your careers interest and the stage of the recruitment process which you’re at!

And remember: you can find more information about CGI including job opportunities within its organisation hub on targetjobs.

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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