The M&S graduate application form explained

Applicants must complete online aptitude tests at the end of the online application form.

There are two stages to the Marks & Spencer graduate application process:

  1. online application (which includes uploading a CV) and aptitude tests
  2. assessment centre

Filling in Marks & Spencer's application form

The form contains the following sections:

  1. Personal details
  2. Secondary education
  3. University education
  4. Work experience details. This includes for each listed experience the question, 'What did you learn from this experience? If this influenced your choice of career, please explain how.'
  5. Upload your CV: as there are no sections of the online form noting your higher education qualifications, it would be wise to detail them here.
  6. Miscellaneous questions – such as your preferred start date, any allergies or dietary restrictions that should be taken into account if working in The Food Group and any disabilities.
  7. Where you heard about the vacancy – we recommend you choose from the menu!
  8. Equal opportunities.

Applicants must complete aptitude tests at the end of the online application form. In the past, these were an untimed ‘talent screening’ test and timed numeracy and verbal tests.

Use the work experience section and CV to show that you have the skills Marks & Spencer’s wants

Marks & Spencer outline certain skills that they are looking for in their graduate candidates, which can be found on the individual graduate scheme descriptions. Marks & Spencer also told TARGETjobs’ sister publication, The Guardian UK 300, that some of the core skills that they look for include: the ability to work under pressure, commercial awareness, motivation, teamwork and problem-solving skills. The work experience section of the application form and your CV are your opportunities to demonstrate that you have these skills – it will impress if what you’ve learned tallies with the skills and knowledge required for the role you are applying for. Even seemingly unrelated work experience can help demonstrate relevant skills. If you temped as a receptionist, for example, this will have helped you to develop the ‘crystal-clear communication skills’ that Marks & Spencer are looking for. Working as part-time sales assistant in a busy store will have helped improve your ability to work well under pressure.

Writing about how your work experience has influenced your career choice

Marks & Spencer recruiters want to know how self-aware and analytical you are. When you write about how it’s influenced your choice of career, don’t just think about the nature of the work itself. Also consider factors such as:

  • the type of working environment, eg office-based
  • whether you worked individually or in a team
  • any training you received
  • whether you worked in a client-facing role.

What you enjoyed and didn’t enjoy – what you found easy and challenging – about these factors are likely have influenced your career choice.

Things to remember when writing your Marks & Spencer graduate CV

  • Marks & Spencer emphasise a commitment to being a sustainable retailer in their ‘Plan A’ business strategy (which is worth reading). Including any examples you have of being involved in voluntary work, charity or environmental work on your CV will indicate to M&S recruiters that you share the retailer’s values
  • As you are not asked to write a covering letter, you could include a short personal statement/career aim at the top, explaining the type of role you are interested in, the career path you want to take (eg eventually become a buyer) and why you want to work for M&S. If you choose to do this, ensure it is very focused on the role at M&S. Read our article on whether to include a personal profile.
  • You can find tips about writing a great graduate retail CV here.
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