Insider advice on how to succeed at CGI assessment centres and interviews
CGI assessment centres for graduate jobs consist of an interview, group exercise and written exercise. There is an SHL induction reasoning test to complete before the day.
Assessment centres held in one of CGI's UK offices. Past applicants have been invited to Reading and Leatherhead or Aberdeen for positions that will be based there.
CGI writing exercise
In the past, the exercise has involved writing a 500-word report about technologies that interest you. This has allowed recruiters to assess whether you have the writing skills necessary to produce reports and other essential communications when in the workplace.
Alexandra Hopkins, head of learning and development at CGI, encourages candidates to keep the following in mind:
- 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
- If you include a reference to something, give details in a bibliography at the end
- Elements such as heading, graphs and diagrams can help to add clarity
Think about making life straightforward for your reader. The writing piece is likely to be read by a member of the CGI HR team and by a manager from the relevant business area. Don’t assume that they will be familiar with the topic you choose to write about. Alexandra recommends: ‘It’s a good idea to ask a friend who’s studying a different subject to do a sense-check.’
CGI graduate scheme interviews
You will have a one-to-one interview with a manager from the relevant business unit. Expect to be asked competency-based questions, questions about your motivation and technical questions.
CGI's core competencies for its graduate schemes are:
- communication skills
- collaborative working
- applied intellect
- resilience and commitment to excellence
- commercial acumen
- knowledge of CGI
For more detail of what CGI means by these, see the 'application hints & tips' section of its careers website.
You will be asked technical questions based around the business unit you have applied to and the skills listed in the job description (eg Java). You will typically be asked these questions in a format such as ‘What do you know about X?’, rather than having to solve technical puzzles.
Alexandra also advises applicants: ‘Be able to name some competitors to CGI.’ A surprising number of interviewees can’t.
You can find past CGI graduate interview questions and advice on how to answer them in our separate article.
The group exercise at CGI’s assessment centre
The group exercise takes place in groups of two to six people and normally lasts 30 minutes. It is typically assessed by the HR team only, although interviewers (managers from relevant business units) will sometimes sit in. You will be given a non-technical problem to solve.
Expect to be assessed on elements such as:
- how you approach the problem
- how you manage group dynamics
- how you break up areas of responsibility within the team
Alexandra’s hints and tips include:
- Avoid staying completely silent – this gives assessors nothing to mark
- It’s a timed exercise, so take control of the timing
- Think about dividing up the task
- Think about how you will solve the problem first (rather than immediately jumping in to try to solve it) in case you have an additional challenge thrown at you
How to be an exceptional CGI candidate
Want to go further and be an exceptional candidate? Alexandra has the following advice:
‘An exceptional candidate tries to communicate and engage with us throughout the process. For example, we had one candidate who communicated with us throughout the process via our Facebook page and via email to ask sensible questions about the assessment centre (eg how she could prepare) and whether she could talk to a current graduate.
We put her in touch with a graduate and she gained extra information through this that was useful to her at interview. As a result, she was more confident on the day, felt prepared, had done her research and knew that CGI was right for her. She clearly wanted to engage and wanted the job. She had a strong academic record and technical skills anyway, but this set her apart.
We are happy for candidates to get in touch even before they apply. They can use any channel of communication. We even have the recruitment team phone number on our website. I’d like more candidates to make contact!’