The nature of a Jaguar Land Rover interview

'Describe a situation where you have been particularly persistent.'

Jaguar Land Rover interviews candidates as part of the assessment day. Past candidates for graduate programmes and internships have faced a competency interview, with some (such as engineering applicants) also having a technical interview.

Other assessment centre activities reported by past candidates at JLR have included:

Competency-based interviews at Jaguar Land Rover

Competency-based interviews are structured interviews based around the candidate’s previous experiences. In previous years JLR has recommended the use of the ‘CAR’ approach when answering competency questions. This means explaining the context of the situation, the action that you took, and the result you achieved.

The competencies tested are likely to be linked to the company's eight ‘high performance behaviours’. These are:

  • 'My business' (ensuring JLR's continued success by, eg, taking up business opportunites and focusing on customers' needs)
  • 'Clear direction' (both in terms of your ability to make sensible business decisions and whether your career aims tie in with what Jaguar Land Rover does)
  • 'Effective relationships' (not only working well with others, but also sharing your skills and knowledge)
  • 'Strong teams' (including making the most of working with colleagues whose skills and talents are different from your own)
  • 'Efficient delivery' (delivering a quality product or service on time and in a cost-efficient manner)
  • 'Agility and flexibility' (innovating, and responding well to challenges)
  • 'Positive impact' (influencing others while acting with integrity)
  • 'High performance' (developing yourself and others to deliver the best for the company)

The following give a feel for questions that previous candidates have been asked and how you could approach them. However, don't assume that you'll be asked the same thing this year.

Past question: Why do you want to work for Jaguar Land Rover?

The trick here is to do your research into Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), then link what you find out to your own interests.

If you’re applying for an engineering role, perhaps you’re attracted to Jaguar Land Rover’s description of itself as ‘The UK’s biggest investor in manufacturing research and development’. Maybe you are interested in its developments in powertrain, hybrids, electronics or entertainment systems? Or in its use of 3D design rooms and printers? But don’t just say ‘This interests me’ – back up your claim by linking it to something you’ve done in the past, such as a university project, personal project, work project or favourite module that involved the relevant technology.

Maybe you’re attracted to Jaguar Land Rover’s technical innovations aimed at reducing the environmental impact of its vehicles. These include developments in use of aluminium to produce lighter cars that are more fuel-efficient and have lower emissions, plus a commitment to using recycled aluminium where possible. If you’re an engineering graduate, perhaps you could link this to your enjoyment of an environmental engineering module or involvement with the relevant technology. If you’re from a non-technical background, you could show your interest in environmental issues at a broader level by discussing your involvement with, say, a recycling project or a conservation charity.

Jaguar Land Rover is also particularly proud of its ‘Inspiring Tomorrow’s Engineers’ programme of work with schools and colleges, its ‘Improving Lives’ activities (which support charities in the UK and worldwide, including the Born Free Foundation) and its employee volunteering scheme. Has it been important to you during your time at university to help out at a local school, raise money for charity or work as a volunteer? Do you like the idea of working for a company that shares these values? This is your opportunity to say so.

Applying for a sales or marketing role? Perhaps you have experience of finding innovative ways of ‘selling’ a vision of a product or service to potential customers and love the fact that JLR has developed its Virtual Customer Experience. This allows customers at dealerships to put together a vehicle to their desired spec, then have it projected full size onto a screen. Maybe in the past you have attempted to attract a broader group of people to a product, service or university society, and would enjoy the challenge of encouraging more female customers to buy JLR’s vehicles. Or it might be that you pride yourself on your language skills or cultural awareness and are interested in the company’s expansion into emerging markets such as China.

Past question: Tell me about a time when you have helped someone or corrected someone who was doing the wrong thing

This question ties in with a number of Jaguar Land Rover’s high performance behaviours.

The first is ‘effective relationships’ – did you have a good enough relationship beforehand for the person in question to be open to your advice or guidance? How did you manage to share your knowledge or skills to help them achieve their goal?

The second is ‘positive impact’. How did you communicate with or inspire the person to change their approach? Was it your sense of honesty and integrity that led you to take action – or did these inform the way you approached the situation?

You may also be able to bring in ‘agility and flexibility’, if you needed to respond quickly or think of a new approach, and possibly also ‘efficient delivery’, if you were attempting to ensure that a product/service/event was delivered on time or to the right standard.

‘Doing the wrong thing’ doesn’t have to mean ‘behaving badly’. You could have helped someone who was failing to follow a process or to apply a particular technique, which would have led to negative consequences for themselves or others. Have you dealt with someone who was making technical or mathematical errors on an engineering project? Getting a sporting technique wrong or using gym equipment incorrectly and risking injury? Or perhaps making an admin task more long-winded that it needed to be by not following guidelines?

Past question: Describe a situation where you have been particularly persistent

‘Persistent’ needn’t mean ‘annoying’. Think instead about whether you have been able to keep working towards a goal in the face of obstacles.

You may have been persistent by yourself, for example to master a skill that you were struggling with or to improve a product that you were designing or building that you weren’t happy with. Or you might have been persistent with a client while on internship to provide you with information you needed while keeping him or her on side. Think about why you felt the need to be persistent (which will help you demonstrate that you value ‘efficient delivery’ and ‘high performance’) and any interpersonal skills you needed in order to achieve this (which may help you to demonstrate ‘effective relationships’, ‘strong teams’, or ‘positive impact’).

Past question: Tell me about a time when you had to make a quick decision

This question can help you to demonstrate your ‘agility and flexibility’, particularly your ability to ‘react to new challenges in a quick and positive manner’, and also potentially your ‘clear direction’. It could potentially also tie in with ‘My business’ by indicating that you would be able to ‘Seize positive opportunities for the business’.

Have you had to make a quick decision to solve a problem, for example to deal with a particularly angry customer or to keep a performance of a university musical running when the lighting board suddenly died? Or maybe you’ve had to react quickly to take up an opportunity, such as a last-minute offer of summer work that clashed with other plans, or the chance to take over as president of a society when your predecessor stepped down suddenly at a time when you already had heavy academic workload. Be prepared to talk through the factors you needed to consider, how you prioritised them and what you considered to be the most important goal to achieve.

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