How to impress in JLL's graduate interviews

Beware paying lip service to something that appeals to you at JLL without researching it properly.

JLL puts candidates for its graduate programme through two interviews. The first is usually conducted over Skype, while the second is part of the assessment day. Amelia Dowty, emerging talent acquisition manager, helped us put together this advice on what to expect from JLL’s interviews and how to be a stand-out candidate.

What happens during the interviews?

JLL’s first-round graduate interview lasts around 30 minutes and is either conducted by a member of JLL’s HR team, or any staff member from associate level upwards. Skype is used for this interview, although some smaller, regional offices may choose to interview candidates in person.

The second interview is usually with two director-level team members. They will be from anywhere in the business if the candidate has applied to a rotational programme, whereas if you have applied to a team that’s recruiting an individual into its programme your interviewers are likely to be from that particular business area.

How are candidates assessed?

In both interviews candidates are assessed against JLL’s ‘graduate competency framework’. As a candidate you won’t have access to this framework, but with a bit of common sense you can prepare for the right things. ‘The competency framework is a standard set of behaviours that underpin all of our graduate assessment processes,’ says Amelia. ‘It’s not something we publish, but it’s not a huge mystery either, and nothing you wouldn’t expect of a graduate.’ From talking to Amelia we can tell you that it includes competencies along these lines:

  • working well with people and as a team
  • showing effective communication
  • being agile and adapting to change (find out what JLL means by being agile)
  • working under pressure

It would be reasonable to assume that courage and trust also feature in the framework, considering that JLL’s online application involves answering a question about how you have displayed courage, trust and agility.

Amelia explains the difference in how candidates are assessed in the first and second interviews: ‘We only cover half of the competencies during the assessment day interview because we study them in a bit more depth than the first-round interview. We’ll test different competencies at different stages of the assessment day, so some at interview, some at the group exercise, some at the presentation, and so on.’

What types of question do they ask?

The types of question you are likely to be asked in either interview include:

Motivation questions

‘We generally open the interview by asking about the candidate’s interest in the scheme and the business,’ says Amelia. What has made you want to be a surveyor/analyst/business manager at JLL and can you articulate this clearly? Have you given thought to explaining why you chose that particular graduate scheme out of the eight that JLL offers? Amelia points out that her firm publishes a lot of information on how the schemes differ and what opportunities each one could present, so don’t trip up on a question about your scheme when information is easily available.

Competence-based questions

Questions in the ‘tell us about a time when you’ve demonstrated’ format will form a major part of the first interview, so that your interviewers can assess you against JLL’s competency framework. Come prepared with examples of how you have demonstrated the ability to adapt to change, work under pressure and the other competencies listed in the above section, and see our advice on using the STAR approach.

Technical questions

Amelia explains: ‘There may be some technical elements to the interview for roles that are a bit more technical – I’m thinking specifically of roles in our buildings and construction division, such as building surveying. We might ask those applicants about what they’ve enjoyed in their degree or about a piece of work they’ve done.’ Whether or not you’ve applied to the building surveying scheme, it’s good to prepare some things to say if you’re asked questions along these lines. Think what your favourite modules have been and why, and what you’ve learned about property during your course that has surprised you or influenced your career plans. When choosing a project or piece of coursework to talk about, choose something that informed your career plans and ambitions.

Commercial awareness questions

Your interviewer is likely to want to test your knowledge about JLL as a business. ‘It’s not uncommon to be asked JLL’s share price on the day you’re interviewed, and you absolutely should have done your homework on our business today, what’s happening in the news and in property, and what’s new to JLL right now,’ says Amelia.

What impresses JLL’s interviewers?

For both interviews, Amelia is impressed by well-researched candidates who can sum up exactly what appeals to them about working for JLL, and why. But, she warns, ‘It’s not just about parrot-fashion repeating what we’ve set out in our marketing literature. What’s more important is someone being able to tell us why the work that we do resonates with them.’ For example, if you have chosen JLL because you find its global opportunities an attractive feature of the firm, you need to explain exactly why this ‘resonates’ with you. How does working for a firm that operates in 60 countries link in with your own values, ideals and ambitions as a graduate? Perhaps you have a particular interest in an Asia Pacific language and culture and would like to experience business there later on in your career. Or perhaps you’ve studied a business module and particularly enjoyed learning about European market trends.

Amelia also reveals what can distinguish the stronger candidate when two appear the same on paper. ‘In an interview we don’t just want to hear about one arena of someone’s life, but examples drawn from work experience, as well as academia, extracurricular activities, hobbies and part-time work. It doesn’t all have to be about property or surveying. Actually, the more variety, the more interesting it is for the interviewer. It’s like any conversation: you want to be interested and engaged by what someone is saying.’ People are engaging to talk to when it is clear they have a genuine enthusiasm for what they’re talking about. What are your interests and how have you actively pursued them?

Making a good performance on Skype

Worried about how you’ll come across to your interviewer on camera? There are certainly differences in how you should approach a Skype interview compared to when you meet recruiters in person, but we’ve put together some practical advice to help you.

What DOESN’T impress JLL’s interviewers?

Beware paying lip service to something that appeals to you at JLL without researching it properly. ‘I had a few people last year who mentioned their real interest in our sustainability agenda at JLL on their application form, but when we pushed a bit deeper in the final interview they didn’t really know much about it. I’d say that come the assessment day, anything you put in your application is fair game, so make sure you’re familiar with it before you go into final interview, because you will be asked about it in depth again.’ It’s all very well being able to state the five main issues outlined in JLL’s Global Sustainability Commitment, but which of them interests you the most, and why? And how have you furthered your interest in, for instance, green buildings?

A final piece of advice

According to Amelia, during the assessment day the interview is what candidates tend to find hardest. ‘Perhaps candidates feel they have twice as many people to impress, but our interviewers are all pretty nice people.’ Her advice? ‘Know your stuff and remember they’re just people. They might be asking some tricky questions, but they’re just trying to get the most out of it and will never deliberately trip you up.’

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