Insider advice on how to succeed at CGI assessment centres and interviews
CGI’s assessment centre is an opportunity for CGI to get to learn more about you as a person and see you in action in a number of assessment exercises. They typically consist of an interview, group exercise and written exercise (though is some rare cases, you may be invited to a second interview on another day.)
Don’t forget: the assessment centre is also the best time for you to learn more about what CGI will be like as an employer. There will be times when you are able to talk and ask questions to graduates and professionals at CGI. Maria says, ‘we actually encourage people to come with any questions that they do have, so they can come away from the assessment centre knowing definitely whether CGI’s the place they’d like to work.’
The CGI writing exercise: how to succeed
The written exercise at CGI takes the form of a report and the brief will be given on the day. ‘There’s nothing that they need to, or can even, prepare in advance of the day. Candidates just need to respond to the brief within the time restrictions,’ says Maria. This exercise allows recruiters to assess whether you have the writing skills to produce formal reports and other essential forms of business communication, as well as whether you’ve understood the brief correctly. Maria adds, ‘people can get nervous about the written exercise, so it’s important to realise that it’s not there to catch you out.’
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.
A previous candidate recommends maintaining a formal tone and using academic references when writing the report, but you may receive guidance on this from CGI.
CGI’s group exercises: what does it involve?
In groups of six-to-ten, you’ll be given a brief and have around 30 minutes to prepare a response, which you’ll present back to recruiters. Maria explains, ‘we’re assessing how candidates work together as a team and how they communicate with each other. We’re looking at how they approach the brief and come to a solution.’ The problem may be non-technical or abstract, previous 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.
Expect to be assessed on elements such as:
- how you approach the problem
- how you manange 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 a response to the brief. It’s a time exercise, so make sure you’re in control of timings. A good way to approach tasks may be to split off into sub-groups and divide responsibilities between groups.
CGI graduate interviews: what will happen?
You will have a one-to-one interview with a manager from the relevant area of the business. From what we have been told by CGI and by previous candidates, you can expect to be asked competency-based interview questions, questions about yourself and your motivations for applying, and technical questions. ‘We’re looking for graduates to explain about any experiences they’ve had – any internships or placement years, for example – and for evidence of our key competencies,’ explains Maria.
Previous CGI interview questions
We’ve spoken to graduates and interns currently at CGI to get an idea of what you could be asked at interview, although there’s no guarantee that these questions come up. According to the 2017 Inside Buzz survey of CGI graduate employees, previous interviews involved the following experiences:
- ‘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.'
- 'There were mainly technical questions 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.'
- '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.'
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). Maria elaborates: ‘We would expect people going 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.’
How to prepare for interview questions at CGI
- 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.
- Make sure you know about the industry and the role you are applying for. You’ll be placed in a specific area during the screening telephone call prior to the assessment centre.
- Practise explaining your knowledge of programming languages.
- Maria advises: ‘Look through common interview questions and come up with answers. You can practice interview questions with your family and friends, or sign up for a mock interview with your university’s career service.’