Tips for answering interview questions at Gerald Eve
Candidates who impress Gerald Eve’s recruiters with their online application are invited to an assessment day in January or February. In recent years candidates have said the day included an interview with a member of HR and one of the firm’s partners, as well as group and individual tasks.
Interviewers have tended to focus more than other firms on candidates’ personality and whether they’d fit in well with the ‘culture’ of the firm. But these aspects are not the exclusive focus of Gerald Eve recruiters, so candidates need to be prepared to answer questions about the property industry, too.
Gerald Eve tells TARGETjobs on its organisation profile that it looks for ‘graduates with good qualifications, personality, commercial acumen, and, not forgetting, spark’. And Heather Newby, HR manager, confirms that they are keen to find out about you as a person, rather than just a professional: ‘We understand that it can be hard to relax at interviews or assessment days, but candidates need to remember that we are hiring them for their personality and their future potential within our business. We have an inclusive culture and, while we don’t expect candidates to know everything there is to know about surveying, we do want candidates to be comfortable in their own skin and let their personality shine through.’
How to show personality and spark at interview
Interview nerves can make it difficult to relax and be yourself in front of recruiters, however well you prepare. But being genuine in your answers and not just telling recruiters what you think sounds like a good answer certainly helps show the ‘real you’ behind any anxiety. So go into the interview with it clear in your mind why you’ve applied to Gerald Eve (what appeals to you about the firm and job and how you are suited to both) and having practised explaining this.
Questions designed to find out about your personality could include:
- ‘What are your strengths and weaknesses?’ Approach this by linking your strengths to Gerald Eve’s values (trust and integrity, respect etc) or to a specific part of its business that you would like to experience during your rotations, such as planning and development. When you tell interviewers about a weakness, frame it positively by explaining how you are working on improving in this area. Find out how to answer questions about your weaknesses.
- ‘If you weren’t going to be a surveyor, what would you be?’ This is Heather Newby’s favourite question for candidates. Don’t be afraid to put forward your real answer (whether it’s a unconventional profession or closely related to real estate), as long as you give reasons for it that show an awareness of what your skills and attributes are, and of what you look for in your place of work.
- ‘What do you like to do in your spare time?’ and 'What is the next personal goal that you're aiming to achieve outside of work?' Previous interviewees at Gerald Eve have reported being quizzed about their hobbies and interests. Again, giving a genuine answer is the way to be most engaging. Showing enthusiasm about something other than property demonstrates a well-rounded character. Tell interviewers what drew you to your hobby and what qualities it has helped you develop. Show recruiters that you can approach work in an organised and ambitious way by conveying that you have a clear, defined goal in extracurricular activities.
How to show Gerald Eve recruiters your ‘spark’
This isn’t an easy characteristic to define, so we discussed it in the TARGETjobs office and decided we would define ‘spark’ as:
- being bright and quick to catch on
- having an interest in the people and things around you
- doing all the above in a way that makes you stand out from other candidates
For example, recruiters in general tell us that exceptional candidates show unmistakeable enthusiasm for working in the property industry. So make sure you know your motivation for being a commercial consultant/surveyor/planner for Gerald Eve and that you can articulate it well.
You could show an ability to think quickly by making links between industry news, current affairs and what you’ve learned on your course in the answers you give to questions. For example, how prepared would you be to answer a question about the potential impact of the EU referendum result? How do you think this could affect Gerald Eve (bearing in mind it has founded Gerald Eve International, a group of associate companies), and are you aware of some of the concerns that its clients in other industries might have? Being able to do this relies on you having good basic knowledge of industry news, wider news and your degree. Our guide to being commercially aware in property may help.
You could show you have an interest in the people around you by making a special effort to establish rapport with your interviewers. After all, ‘friendliness’ is listed as part of Gerald Eve’s company culture. Make eye contact, smile and show you’re interested in what your interviewers are saying through active listening (making a conscious effort to remember what they are saying to you, while making small signs of acknowledgement, such as nodding your head occasionally).
How to answer questions about cultural fit
These questions aim to discover what motivates you and whether you’d fit in at Gerald Eve. Past candidates have reported being asked questions along the lines of:
- ‘Why do you want to work for Gerald Eve in particular?’
- 'Why have you applied to Gerald Eve?'
- ‘What departments are of interest to you?’
- 'Why are you interested in property?'
- 'What does a partnership offer over a public company?'
Prepare answers for these questions by thinking about why you chose to apply, and work out how you can tell them this in a way that makes a clear match between the firm’s values and what you value; or between the opportunities the firm offers and your career ambitions. For instance, perhaps you value the fact that Gerald Eve says its graduates have direct access to senior employees in the business. Give weight to your answer by explaining why you value this. It could be that you appreciated being able to have contact with senior lecturers at university to ask questions relevant to your course.