DHL's graduate interview questions: how to answer them

Telling DHL recruiters about their company in your own words, rather than theirs, shows good understanding of what you've applied for.

DHL’s current graduates have used Inside Buzz to tell us what happened in their DHL assessment day interview. Here are some past questions – you’re unlikely to be asked exactly the same ones, but you can use our advice as a good starting point for your interview preparation as they may be similar.

Past DHL interview question no. 1: ‘Tell us about a time when you were pushed out of your comfort zone. How did you deal with the situation?’

It doesn’t matter whether your example comes from a work situation, your university course or an extracurricular activity, but the situation you choose to talk about should ideally show that:

  • you are willing to be stretched – as you would be if you joined one of DHL’s schemes
  • you meet the requirements of the role, such as ‘people management skills’ or ‘experience of working in fast paced environments’

Perhaps you worked for a catering company and at the last minute had to be lead waiter on the top table at a wedding. How did you cope with the pressure and manage the people in your team so that collectively you worked to a good standard? You could use ‘STAR’ to describe the Situation you faced, your Task or goal, the Actions you took, and the Results. Give the most detail to describing the Actions and Results, as your interviewers are most interested in the ‘How did you deal with the situation?’ part of your answer.

This is a competency-based question. DHL has also asked candidates for examples of other skills, such as leadership and dealing with conflict.

Past DHL interview question no. 2: ‘What do you know about DHL?’

DO have a good browse of the company’s website and read the ‘This is DHL’ section, but DON’T stop there. If you can tell recruiters about their company in your own words, rather than theirs, it shows good understanding of what you’ve applied for. If you can find out more about DHL than is on its website, it shows you’ve taken an interest and shown initiative.

Good things to research on DHL’s website and in its annual report include:

  • its UK customer base – eg is it mainly business or household?
  • whether it reached its financial targets last year

Good things to research on news websites, in national newspapers and elsewhere include:

  • DHL in the news over the last 12 months
  • its competitors – who they are and any major news concerning them
  • its share price on the day of your interview and any recent fluctuations

Past DHL interview question no. 3: ‘How would you go about making a change to a warehouse and get colleagues on board who have been working there for 20 years and don’t accept change easily?’

It may be useful to have a pen and notepad to hand during the interview for longer questions like this as it means you can take notes.

Answer the question by addressing its three parts, one by one:

1. How would you go about making a change to a warehouse?

You may find it helpful to ask your interviewer what sort of change they have in mind, if they don’t specify. In each case, however, outline the steps you would take to introduce the change. Who would you consult before making it? Who would you need to communicate this change to and how would you do this? Would you make the change straight away or give advance notice? For each step, explain why. For example, you might think it wise to bring in the change gradually to make it easier for warehouse colleagues to adapt.

2. How would you get colleagues on board who have been working there for 20 years?

Graduates may be worried that they won’t be received positively by colleagues who have been with the employer much longer, particularly if the graduate manages the older employees in some way. It’s very important to respect older employees’ experience and knowledge of the company and be sensitive to how they may feel about change. How would you show consideration for them when bringing in the change? Would you just tell them what is going to happen, or would you explain why the change is happening and give them a chance to voice any concerns? What are the advantages of listening to what they have to say?

3. How would you get colleagues on board who don’t accept change easily?

It’s common for people to be unhappy when faced with change in their workplace, often because it is not known what the impact will be. How could you deal with your colleagues’ concerns and minimise any negative effects of the change?

Types of question you may be asked in your DHL interview include:

  • Competency questions (such as question no. 1)
  • Hypothetical questions (such as question no. 3)
  • Motivational questions – your reasons for applying to DHL and the specific scheme; what your career plans are
  • Commercial awareness questions – your knowledge of the company, the logistics industry and how it is affected by events in neighbouring industries

Look at what the original DHL job advert asked for when you applied and, for each of the above question types, think about what questions interviewers might ask you. You can also make the most of our tips on answering some common interview questions on the TARGETjobs website.

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