How to impress at Shell's graduate recruitment day

In the past, Shell's graduate recruitment day has taken the following format. However, use this FYI only, as it's likely that some elements will change.

Previous candidates have typically attended a pre-assessment event at the Shell Centre in London (where the assessment itself has been held) the day before the recruitment day. This has included:

  • briefing on the assessment (including timetable information)
  • presentation about Shell and its CAR criteria
  • some case study practice
  • informal dinner with current Shell employees and other candidates

The dress code for the pre-selection day event has tended to be smart-casual, so jeans and trainers are best left at home. Candidates who needed to travel have been provided with hotel accommodation.

What to expect from the Shell recruitment day (aka assessment centre)

Each assessment has typically been attended by between five and eight candidates (who, the company stresses, are not competing against one another) and four assessors. There have also been some HR professionals running the event. The dress code has been business wear.

Over the course of the day, exercises have included:

  • written exercise
  • case study
  • group exercise
  • interview or technical presentation (depending on role)

Note: Candidates interested in pursuing a career in trading have sometimes been asked to complete a numerical reasoning test, but have been informed in advance if this is the case.

The case study and group activity at the Shell recruitment day have been based around a fictional company, which candidates had to imagine that they worked for, or a fictional new project that Shell was looking to undertake.

What is Shell looking for at its recruitment day?

Candidates are assessed against the company's core competencies, so candidates should keep these in mind when approaching each task. Assessors will also be looking at how candidates behave in different business situations, whether they are able to analyse information to reach logical conclusions, how they work with others and whether they are able to deal with change. See Shell's own website for more information.

Shell assessment case study

The case study has involved sifting through a pile of documents and making a short (five-minute) analytical presentation based on the information. The documents have included emails, newspaper clippings, letters and maps, among other things. Candidates have been given an hour to prepare (more if English is not their first language). After the presentation, there has been a 20- to 30-minute question session with the assessors.

Although the exact nature of the case study varies, it has generally been focused on the fictional company's business activities and candidates have been expected to give a recommendation for future actions. It's a good idea to consider any immediate issues involved (such as health and safety or budgetary concerns) as well as the longer term implications of the situation.

Group exercise at the Shell assessment day

The topic of the group discussion varies, but groups have usually been required to talk through various business proposals (such as where to allocate funding or where to locate new facilities) and agree on a course of action. This has been discussed in pairs or small groups for a short period, before the whole group has reconvened for a 30-minute discussion. There has sometimes also been a mock press conference at the end of the group discussion in which candidates had to answer questions about their decision.

As with any group exercise, it's important to get involved and get your point across while respecting other members of the group.

Shell business scenario interview

Candidates applying for commercial roles have typically had a business scenario interview. This has involved analysing a business scenario with regard to risks, potential courses of action and the likely strategy impact. Candidates have usually been given 15 to 20 minutes to prepare before discussing the scenario with assessors. This has been followed by an interview lasting up to a further 20 minutes, which has included competency questions on the candidate's previous experiences of teamwork and learning new skills.

Technical presentation or interview

Candidates with a technical (engineering or scientific) background have typically had a technical presentation or interview. The assessor in this case has usually been from the relevant business area and has asked questions about the candidate's technical knowledge.

Technical presentation: The topic of the technical presentation has tended to be chosen by the candidate in advance of the assessment day and be based around a relevant research or work experience project. Presentations have usually lasted around 15 minutes and been followed by 30 minutes of questions. Facilities for using PowerPoint or overhead projection have been available, but those wishing to do so have been advised to limit this to 12 slides.

Technical interview: Technical interviews have usually been used for candidates with no prior experience of independent research. The topic of the interview has tended to be set before the selection day and has usually covered one or two relevant projects the candidate has worked on. The task has typically started with a 30-minute discussion, followed by a shorter question session of around 10 minutes.

Both activities have been designed to give the candidate an opportunity to display their technical skills, particularly those relevant to the area they wish to join.

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