Interviews and assessment centres

What to expect from BP's interview questions and assessment centre

26 Oct 2023, 14:47

Our advice-packed guide helps you to answer BP's interview questions and succeed at its assessment centre exercises.

A lighted gas hob. The flame is a light-blue colour.

BP's interview questions are typically split across two interviews. The first is a pre-recorded video interview. You’ll need to record your answers using a webcam and upload them to the platform. BP describes this interview as focused on your personal attributes and experiences, so you can expect some competency-based questions.

The BP video interview is followed by a second-round interview, which is referred to as a technical interview but generally includes some broader questions as well. This second interview is with experienced members of staff from the department you’re applying to and could be held via a video call or in person.

You’ll then be invited to the final stage – the assessment centre, which could take place either face-to-face or virtually. Read on for tips on how to answer BP’s interview questions and what to expect at its assessment centre.

BP advice:

BP competency-based interview questions

BP’s video interview has previously involved competency questions. These require you to draw on past experiences to show how your skills and experiences align with the graduate job requirements. It will also help to show how your behaviours align with BP's beliefs, which you can find on its website.

Past BP competency-based interview questions included:

  • Tell us about a time when you have dealt with conflict within a team.
  • Describe a time that you had to provide someone with feedback.
  • Describe a time you were faced with a challenge and how you solved it.

How to answer BP’s competency interview questions

The secret to answering BP’s competency questions well is to have a list of examples of when you have demonstrated the competencies they seek and be ready to adapt them to the specifics of the questions you are asked: for example, think about times when you worked in a team and reflect on what worked well, what worked less well and how you approached the tasks you were set.

For each experience, BP recommends that you consider in advance what the challenges were, how you addressed them, what the results of your actions/decisions were and what you would do differently if faced with the same challenge.

But what if you don’t have a specific example of the question being asked – for example, what if you’ve never experienced a conflict in a team ? Then, there are two different ways you can take this question and it’s OK to take a minute to think about your approach before launching into an answer:

  • You could give an example about a time when you demonstrated a similar skill in a slightly different situation – so you could say something along the lines of: ‘I’ve never had a conflict within a team, but I do have an example of when I disagreed with a course mate on how to approach an assignment and here’s how I resolved it…’.
  • You could say how you would handle the situation, for instance: ‘I’ve never experienced a conflict within a team, but if I did, here is how I would handle it…’. Our article answering the tricky interview question ‘ How would you deal with conflict? ’ will give you some clues in this particular case.

The ‘STAR method’ is a great way to answer competency-based questions. Use it to explain the examples you provide in your answers – including details of the s ituation, the t ask at hand, the a ctions that you took and the r esult of those actions. Our article on how to answer competency-based questions provides more in-depth advice for tackling this type of interview question and the ‘STAR method’.

BP technical interview questions

The technical interview is likely to start with non-technical questions about you, for example relating to your skills, your interest in joining BP or what you liked/disliked about your degree.

It then typically moves on to technical matters and is designed to reflect the type of work you can expect in your chosen discipline. Expect to talk through your CV before moving on to scenario-based questions to challenge some of your knowledge and shed light on how you approach tasks and challenges.

Past scenarios have included:

  • a possible expansion into a new drilling location
  • the proposed outsourcing of finance functions
  • design considerations for a new subsea system.

How to prepare for BP’s technical interview questions

First, read back through your CV and come to the interview prepared to expand on the information you’ve included – what you achieved, what you learned, what skills you developed and so on.

Secondly, revisit your company research to ensure you understand what you will be doing in the role and what the purpose of the team is and how it contributes to the success of BP, whether that’s pipelines engineering, finance or HR.

Thirdly, read up on current trends and developments in the field – even though this is a technical interview, you need to show you can consider other factors such as cost implications, environmental issues and the need to comply with legislation. If you're applying for an engineering role, brush up on basic engineering principles – one past candidate recommends fluids, mechanics and materials, but it will vary according to the engineering role.

A few graduates have reported the scenario questions that they faced at the technical interview having a similar format to assessment centre case studies. One candidate reports being given a brief, five minutes to read the information contained in it and then being questioned about the case information. They also report interviewers adding in new information as the conversation progressed. This process was repeated with two more briefs of increasing complexity.

BP interview questions about you and the company

Although BP’s interviews tend to focus on your competencies and behavioural traits, you will also face questions that assess your motivation for wanting the role and your wider knowledge of BP. These questions can be asked at either or both of your BP interviews.

How to prepare for BP motivational interview questions

BP’s motivational questions will assess your level of interest in the role, your reasons for wanting to secure it and your enthusiasm.

Previous questions included:

  • Why do you want to work for BP?
  • Why have you applied for this role at BP?
  • Which other companies have you applied to?
  • Why do you want to work in the oil and gas industry?

Your answers to BP’s motivational interview questions will need to demonstrate compelling reasons for wanting the role and to work at the organisation. Consider, for example, what it is about the role that most excites you in terms of responsibilities and what kind of opportunities for career progression exist at BP.

Bring your knowledge of BP, including its beliefs, into your answers where possible. For example, you can mention projects that your prospective department has worked on that interest you.

Head to this advice feature on answering motivation questions such as ‘Why do you want this role?’ and ‘Why do you want to work for us?’ for more help.

How to prepare for broader questions about BP

BP may ask you wider questions to further test your understanding of the business, the role and, potentially, the industry.

Questions could include being asked about your understanding of how the department you’re applying to contributes towards the overall aims of the business.

To prepare for broader questions about BP:

  • ensure you understand the basics of what BP does and what its competitors do (Hint: research 'supermajors' such as Chevron, Shell and ExxonMobil)
  • clue yourself into BP’s three strategic pillars: ‘resilient hydrocarbons’, ‘convenience and mobility’ and ‘low carbon energy’ and how the organisation is enacting these
  • read up on BP's three main business groups and what they do: production and operations, customers and products and gas and low carbon energy
  • be aware of the company's brands in addition to 'BP' (eg Castrol, Wild Bean Café and Aral)
  • ensure you understand the job role you are applying for – revisiting the job description is a good start as that will help you explain how you feel it contributes to the business
  • think of ways to show links between your experiences, interests, values and the job in question, and BP more generally.

Answering broader questions about the business as well as its motivational interview questions requires sound commercial awareness of BP. We have dedicated guides on how to research an employer for a graduate job and how to build commercial awareness for further help.

Answering BP interview questions on the day

BP specifically encourages candidates to relax, not rush their answers and feel free to ask for questions to be repeated if they don't understand them the first time round. It also stresses that it likes candidates to have questions for their interviewers, to help them decide whether BP is right for them. This is another opportunity to show you are keen and have prepared in advance. See our article on good questions to ask at interviews for help crafting a list of questions.

The BP assessment centre

BP runs an assessment centre for all of its graduate programmes. It typically doesn’t include any interviews. Activities have previously been reported to include:

  • Group discussions – according to previous attendees, the group discussions are centred on a business case. The groups are typically fairly small, with around four people in each. Subjects have reportedly included: choosing the most appropriate exploration site from a number of options; selecting the most suitable technology for oil extraction; and exploring product marketing options. See our article on assessment centre group exercises for more help.
  • A presentation – candidates will each be given a brief relating to their chosen area of business and will be asked to prepare a 10-15-minute presentation based on the information. Usually this will involve deciding between several options, explaining the reasoning and answering any follow-up questions. Discover how to deliver a graduate job worth presentation here .
  • A reflective review – usually the final task of the day, the review takes the form of an informal chat with an assessor about how the candidate felt about their performance during the day. The key here is to show the right amount of self-reflection. Don’t talk yourself down, focus on your mistakes or say that you don’t think you could’ve done anything better. Instead, focus on what you wish you could do again and consider what you’d change the second time round.

Boost your graduate career prospects with targetjobs

A targetjobs graduate profile gets you recommended careers advice content tailored to your career interests and the stage of the application process you’re at.

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.

Related careers advice

undefined background image

We've got you

Get the latest jobs, internships, careers advice, courses and graduate events based on what's important to you. Start connecting directly with top employers today.