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ICAP graduate interviews and assessment centre: recruiter’s five top tips

Get across as much of your personality as you possibly can. ICAP is looking for personable characters. – ICAP graduate recruiter

Graduates who pass ICAP’s online application stage will have to make it through a telephone interview, assessment day and a final round interview to land a job.

TARGETjobs caught up with ICAP’s resourcing manager, Laura Howlett, who told us what her five top tips are to help you increase your chances of getting hired at the end of the process.

ICAP graduate recruiter’s five top tips

  1. Get your personality across. Laura says: ‘My best advice to candidates throughout an interview stage is to always try to get across as much of your personality as you possibly can. ICAP is looking for personable characters.’
  2. Keep up to date with financial news and anything that’s impacting ICAP specifically.
  3. Go the extra mile during the assessment day. Laura says: ‘Build rapport with the recruiters in the room. The candidates that stand out are those who make the effort to engage at the assessment centre.’
  4. Ask questions at the end of your interview. Laura says: ‘What I always like to see at the end of an interview is someone asking questions.’
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask ‘out-of-the-box’ questions. Laura says: ‘Someone asked me recently if it’s acceptable at the end of an interview to ask a more personal question about the interviewer’s opinion of their role, such as, “Do you enjoy working at ICAP?” My response was, absolutely! I love to hear those questions. It gives me a chance to say why I enjoy certain things at ICAP, why I think it’s a different company and what I see the future for ICAP being.’

ICAP telephone interview

Your first interview will be done over the phone and will last around 20 minutes. The recruiter will go through your application form in more depth and will be looking to find out three things:

  1. Why you have chosen to apply to ICAP
  2. What attracts you to the role to which you have applied
  3. If you have the competencies that are relevant to the industry and ICAP’s culture and values

To prepare for your telephone interview, visit ICAP’s website and familiarise yourself with what the company does, what makes it different, and its culture and values.

Re-read the job description and make notes on how your skills match the selection criteria. Also list other relevant competencies you have that aren’t included in the person specification.  

Read our guide on how to handle a telephone interview for more information on what you should do to prepare.

ICAP assessment centre

Your assessment day will kick-off with a numerical test and a quick-fire trading simulation, which is unique to ICAP. These are designed to test your numeracy skills and gauge how well you perform when working with a time limit within a pressurised environment.

You could prepare for the numerical test by doing some practice tests online. Beware, however, that some online tests aren’t free, so you might have to do a bit of digging to find those that are if you don’t want to fork out the cash.

Group exercise

Many past candidates have had to do a group presentation, so it’s possible that you will too – but there’s no guarantee. Whatever the group exercise is, Laura says: ‘It’s purpose is to see how you work as a team and the performance that you put in individually.’

To strike a balance between effective teamworking and individual performance, you’ll have to ensure that you support your colleagues, listen and observe, but also participate, generate ideas, and show that you have drive and ambition.

Read our article on group exercises for more information on what to expect and how to excel in a group exercise at an assessment centre.

Face-to-face interview

Laura says ICAP is very much a relationship-driven business. When you have your face-to-face interview, the interviewers will be judging how well you build a rapport with them.

‘People skills are very crucial for us,’ she says. ‘We’re looking for graduates who have the confidence to build rapport with people they don’t know from the get-go.’

How you behave in your interview will be just as important as what you say. Read our article ‘Body talk: the right moves for graduate job interviews’ for tips on how to use effective body language in your job interview.

Types of questions

Laura says: ‘As well as assessing your technical knowledge of ICAP and financial markets, a member of the HR department (possibly me) and a previous graduate will also see if you meet the firm’s core competencies.’

To prepare for the technical and competency-based questions that you’ll be asked, expand on the research that you carried out for your telephone interview. Re-visit ICAP’s website and the job description to get a better understanding of what the business does and what the job will entail.

Also spend a good amount of time brushing up on your financial knowledge by reading news stories about ICAP in the press. Financial News, published by eFinancialNews and owned by Dow Jones & Company, is a good source of information.

ICAP final interview

You will be invited back for a final interview with a senior manager from the business division to which you applied if you pass the assessment centre. The format of this interview will vary across divisions. Laura explains: ‘Some areas of the business introduce shortlisted candidates to more members of the team, while others just do one final round interview with senior management.’

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