BlackRock graduate application process: the qualities you need to succeed
BlackRock’s graduate recruitment process is designed to whittle down the innumerable applications it receives to a selection of graduates that, in the words of Felicity Brindle, EMEA campus recruitment manager, ‘meet the bar’.
We spoke with Felicity and Ola Fadipe, director EMEA Campus Recruiting, to find out what the recruitment process involves, what specific qualities graduates need to ‘meet the bar’ and how they can demonstrate that they have them.
BlackRock’s recruitment process comprises an online application form (including a covering letter and CV), an online numerical test, an interview and an assessment day that consists of two interviews, a group exercise and a presentation.
The interviews and exercises will be built around the specific requirements of the different divisions, so questions and tasks will vary to some extent, says Felicity. She adds that BlackRock wants you to feel comfortable and ask questions, including the ‘silly’ ones.
During the process, recruiters have two important things that they want to find out about you to establish if you’re the right graduate for the role: 1) whether you have the specific qualities that the firm is looking for and 2) your working style.
Competition for graduate positions at BlackRock is stiff. Felicity says, ‘Securing a job is not a walk in the park.’ So, we asked Felicity which qualities potential recruits will need to beat off the competition.
Felicity says, ‘Applicants can come from any degree background and having work experience within finance is not a prerequisite.’ However, what the investment management firm does look for are the following qualities.
- The desire to work by BlackRock’s four principles.
- Individual qualities – something that would differentiate you from other candidates.
- Understanding of the division – research the division in which you would like to work and also other divisions within the business.
- Being open-eyed about the world around you – have an interest in and understanding of financial, political and global systems and events.
- Wanting to ‘find out the why’. If you were in a technology role, for instance, you’d need to ask, ‘Why am I coding this and how will it improve the investment platform?’
- Potential – the firm isn’t expecting you to be able to hit the ground running; it wants to see that you’re capable of becoming exceptional in your chosen role.
- Fresh perspective – have ideas and views on investment management that are your own and don’t just go along with what others think.
- Be a student of the market – pay close attention to the financial markets and how different events affect the industry.
- The hunger and curiosity to learn, which Felicity says ‘is one of the key things that gets people hired’.
- Buy into the firm – believe in what it stands for and wants to achieve, and work towards that.
- Understanding of investment management – how does the industry work, what types of products and services do firms have and who are there clients.
BlackRock is interested in the needs of each graduate that applies for a position at the firm, stresses Ola. ‘Graduates are not numbers,’ she says. ‘We use an approach where we try to find out about their individual working styles.’
BlackRock wants to know:
- How you like to work
- The type of work that you prefer
- What you’re good at
This information is important to BlackRock because it both helps the business to establish which division graduates will be most suited to and encourages graduates to really consider if a career in investment management is what they want.
Referring to a past candidate, Ola says, ‘At the end of the process he decided that he wanted to be a chef.’ While reflecting on her own career choices, Ola says, ‘I didn’t want to do anything that involved spreadsheets. I wanted to work in an advisory capacity with clients.’
What you can do before applying
- Research BlackRock. Find out what makes it different to other firms within the industry and why Ola says, ‘The business has a unique story.’
- Think about where your interests in the investment management space may lie.
- Summarise your skills and strengths. Ola says, ‘BlackRock understands that some graduates may not know the particular area of investment management in which they’d like to work, so this information will help the business to decide whether you’re most suited to, say, convertible bonds rather than investing.’