How to approach DHL’s application questions for graduates and placement students

The initial application process at DHL involves the same application form whether you are applying to its graduate programme or its student placement scheme. The online application form asks you to:

  • upload basic personal details
  • outline your work history (part-time or summer jobs and work experience)
  • upload your CV
  • answer a few application questions about why you are applying and how you are suited to the opportunity at DHL

This article will give you some starting points for writing the best answers to the application questions mentioned in the final bullet point above. We’re focusing on these questions because they take a bit of deciphering to understand them and give the best answer you can, whether you’re applying to DHL’s industrial placement programme, or its graduate scheme in supply chain and logistics, finance, HR or business technology.

Right first time, can do and passion: don’t ignore these DHL values

Each question sits under the title of one of these three DHL values. Don’t skip over them – they are deliberately included in the questions to find out if you are a good match for working at DHL.

You need to do some research into what DHL means by these terms. Admittedly, you may not find a huge amount online, but one thing you could do is watch the videos on DHL’s graduate recruitment website about the experiences of some of its current graduates and placement students. As you are doing this, think about what ‘right first time’, ‘can do’ and ‘passion’ might mean in practice for the graduates and placement students.

Having had a good look around DHL’s website, TARGETjobs thinks that:

  • ‘right first time’ is to do with being accurate in what you do, recognising that the quality and speed of your work has an impact on subsequent steps in the supply chain (even if you are in a non-logistics role) and is essential for delivering excellent customer service. You won’t be expected to have the ‘right’ solution for everything when you start as a graduate or placement student at DHL, but you will need to show the drive to learn quickly and get the most out of your training so that you can be ‘right first time’ as soon as possible.
  • ‘can do’ describes the attitude of being willing to take on tough tasks to facilitate your team and benefit the wider supply chain network and customers. Several graduates in their videos hint at having high levels of responsibility, whether they have led and managed a warehouse team or, on the HR scheme, been involved in the changes to the terms and conditions of work contracts. Finance graduate Gage talks about how DHL graduates need to show willing by managing their time well while they study towards professional qualifications alongside their full-time jobs.
  • ‘passion’ is about enjoying what you do, which in turn has a positive effect on how well you do your job and what you are like to work with. Supply chain and logistics graduate Rosa describes passion as being keen to make the most of the opportunity to learn, as she says that DHL graduates get exposed to a lot of different projects and work settings. Other graduates mention the importance of researching the company before applying, and this could be seen as making sure you have a ‘passion’ for working at DHL.

Do you agree with this?

Answering DHL application question 1: ‘Why are you passionate about a career within our organization and how could you have an impact on logistics?’

Things to think about before writing your answer:

  • What appeals to you about working for DHL, a third-party logistics company, as opposed to an employer offering a logistics/HR/finance graduate or placement scheme in another sector, such as retail or engineering?
  • How does DHL view itself and what about that appeals to you? You could look at DHL’s Strategy 2020 in detail.
  • How do you interpret having an impact on logistics? Are you thinking about how you’d have an impact on the industry as a whole or on the specific role you are applying to (which in turn will have an impact on the wider industry)? Whichever you decide, explain your thinking.

Practical points

  • Don’t mention any competitors or alternative graduate and placement recruiters by name.
  • When you get on to answering question three, which also asks about your motivations (see below), be careful to ensure that your answer doesn’t overlap.

Answering DHL application question 2: ‘Can you tell us about a time where you have had to work as part of a team and demonstrate a ‘can do’ attitude in order to meet a defined goal or deadline?’

Things to think about before writing your answer:

  • Does the example you’ve chosen fit overall with the three different parts of the question (part of a team, ‘can do’ attitude, defined goal or deadline)?
  • The question wants an example of teamwork but make sure you focus on how you contributed to the team – the recruiters aren’t nearly as interested in anyone else or what you did collectively.

Practical points

  • We recommend using the STAR structure to answer this question, focusing on the A and the R.
  • Make it obvious how your answer fits the three criteria by repeating some of the words from the question, such as ‘can do’, ‘goal’ and ‘team’.
  • You are not expected to have a bank of examples from a professional or logistics environment. You can use examples from your university course or from times when you have had to organise others, as long as it demonstrates what the question is asking for.

Answering DHL application question 3: ‘What has motivated you to apply for this particular programme (i.e. finance, HR, business technology, supply chain & logistics, industrial placements) and how will this enable you to be ‘right first time’ for our customers?

Things to think about before writing your answer:

  • Recruiters want to understand your motivation for applying, what knowledge you have of the programme and how this would enable you to do an excellent job for DHL’s customers.
  • If you’re applying to the finance or HR scheme, for instance, you could do that for many graduate employers. What is it about the DHL scheme that appeals?
  • You wouldn’t apply if you didn’t think you’d be any good on the scheme. Allow this to jog your memory about your original reasons for applying.

Practical points

  • Link your knowledge of the programme with two things: your career ambitions and how it will enable you to be great at what you do (‘right first time’) and how this could impact the customer.
  • There is potential crossover here with question one, so make sure you give different reasons for applying in each answer.

How to answer your DHL application questions in 150 words

Each question needs to be answered in 150 words or fewer. It may seem obvious, but do draft your answers in a separate document so that you can keep track of how much you’re writing and also so that you can save and print off the answers you submit – you’ll want to refer back to them if you get invited to the interview stages.

150 words is a bit more than the length of this section. If you’re finding it hard to stick to the word limit, prioritise your most compelling points (consider which point you’d include if you could only make one), don’t repeat the question at the start of your answer, and answer the question as directly as possible – cut out the ‘reallys’ and the ‘on the other hands’.

Conversely, if you find you have words to spare, check over your answer and add further detail to clarify your points.

Our 'How to get hired' articles are written by TARGETjobs editors and writers with job candidates in mind, helping you research and understand employers. Copyright of all material written by TARGETjobs lies solely with GTI Media.