CushWake’s graduate schemes and work experience: interview and assessment day advice

Be able to talk about recent stories in the property and business press.

Whether you’ve applied for a place on the Cushman & Wakefield graduate programme, a business placement or a summer internship, you’ll follow a similar interview process. Once you’ve successfully passed the application form and online psychometric tests stages, you’ll face a first-round interview. After this, the final recruitment stage is an assessment day, which includes:

  • an interview with a partner
  • group exercises or a case study – graduates may have more to complete than interns
  • a presentation, probably based on the results of one of your group exercises.

In the past, candidates have also attended a networking lunch or were given other social time to talk to members of the firm.

Cushman & Wakefield puts work experience students through the same process as graduates, and expects a similar level of interest and abilities, because interns and placement students who impress are offered graduate jobs.

Throughout the process, demonstrate that you are driven, well-researched, articulate and commercially astute. You can do this via your interview answers, the judgments and contributions you make during your group exercises, and the conversations you have with fellow candidates and recruiters.

Cushman & Wakefield interview questions

Both interviews at Cushman & Wakefield will cover the same territory, but you can expect the second interview to be more probing than the first. The questions may focus around:

  • your skills and the experiences on your CV
  • your reasons for wanting to work in property and applying to Cushman & Wakefield
  • your knowledge of real estate, the commercial markets and deals Cushman & Wakefield has been involved in – you’ll be questioned on these in detail, particularly during your second interview.

Cushman & Wakefield’s graduate interview questions about you

Cushman & Wakefield's questions about your CV aren’t unusual for a graduate or internship position. You might be asked to tell the interviewer about yourself or to expand upon things you’ve written in your CV and on your application.

Previous candidates have been asked both wide-ranging questions, such as ‘What do you like to do outside of your university studies?’, and specific questions about times when you’ve demonstrated the skills that the firm seeks or completed tasks related to the job. For example, one candidate has reported being asked to describe a time when they’ve dealt successfully with clients.

To prepare for these types of questions…

First review what you’ve written in your CV and application form. Practise summarising your experiences and achievements to date, preferably on in front of someone else. Our advice on ‘perfecting your elevator pitch’ may help you with this. 

Second, mindmap times when you demonstrated the skills that Cushman & Wakefield seeks; these are detailed on the firm’s job and internship postings on TARGETjobs. Think especially of times when you demonstrated drive, tenacity and ambition. To do this, identify a time when you have achieved a goal, despite encountering setbacks and challenges. Then analyse your example: why did you want to achieve this goal? What planning did you do to ensure you achieved it? What made you persist instead of giving up? How did you solve problems and react to unexpected setbacks?

When mindmapping your examples, consider all of the experiences in your life – not just your university studies. ‘Candidates need to give examples of when they have displayed their qualities through work experience, volunteering and mentoring activities,’ advises Charlotte Di Talamo, graduate programme officer at Cushman & Wakefield. You can also call upon your part-time job, involvement in student societies or gap year experiences. A former graduate programme officer at Cushman & Wakefield shared an impressive example with us. ‘One candidate I interviewed explained how they she had displayed flexibility on a trip abroad. She had lost documentation while in South America, couldn’t speak the language, was travelling alone and had no money. How she overcame all of this made for an impressive answer. She was offered a job, although – not just on the basis of this – all her examples were strong.’

Come up with a number of examples, if possible; Cushman & Wakefield likes you to have different ones for each interview.

Third, practise explaining your examples when answering questions about different skills. (The candidate above could have used her gap year example to have answered questions about resilience, problem-solving, initiative-taking or proactivity, among other skills.) The STAR technique (as described in this article) can help you structure your answers.

Cushman & Wakefield’s interview questions about the firm, the real estate industry and the commercial world

You’ll be asked about your knowledge of the firm, events in the industry and how economic and political factors are affecting the property markets.

Questions about your motivations for applying might include:

  • Why do you want to work in property?
  • Why do you want to work in commercial property?
  • What do you know about what a graduate in our business does?

Bear in mind that your interviewers are looking for genuine enthusiasm for the industry and the firm. You should have enough facts about the industry and the firm to back up your reasons. If you want to apply for a graduate role with CushWake because of the support it gives you while completing your APC, go into detail about how its rotational placements differ from those of other firms and say why that would help you attain your career ambitions.

Questions about the industry might include:

  • What are the biggest challenges facing Cushman & Wakefield and its competitors at the moment?
  • How do we differ from our competitors?
  • Name a recent business story that interests you. How would that story affect the property owner? If they were a client of ours, how would that affect the advice we give them?
  • What business and property publications do you use? What's the most interesting story you've read in them recently?

Keep in mind that Cushman & Wakefield is interested in your opinions on the news and commercial issues. Its recruiters want to know how you think. ‘The most revealing question is when you ask candidates how they keep up to date with current affairs,’ says Charlotte. ‘They usually say Estates Gazette, Property Week and The Times, but if you then ask them to tell you about a recent story in one of the publications, they can look a bit panicked!’

Read the property press, such as Property Week, and the business pages of the broadsheets. Consider how the news would affect a property firm’s bottom line and the advice they would give to clients. For example, if a retailer announces that it will be expanding its online shopping division, how would this affect its property portfolio? Would it need more warehouses or distribution centres? Would it need to cut back on any of its stores in order to expand its online business?

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