How to display Swiss Re’s graduate requirements throughout the recruitment process
The qualities Swiss Re (Swiss Reinsurance Company Ltd) looks for in graduates are summarised in its graduates@swissre brochure and revealed in past interview questions. Here’s how you can show you meet these requirements at different stages of the recruitment process.
Swiss Re is a global reinsurance organisation that’s based in Zurich, Switzerland, with offices in more than 25 countries, including the United Kingdom, Slovakia, United Arab Emirates, Barbados and the United States. The reinsurer stipulates in its graduate brochure: ‘We’re looking for successful graduates who distinguish themselves not just in terms of academic excellence, but in international experience.’
If you have gained any international experience, such as the examples listed below, you should summarise it in your CV with a few bullet points on the knowledge and skills that you developed. If you have any international work experience, ensure you include it in the employment section of the online application form.
Swiss Re also requests a covering letter; you could outline your international experience here as well. Make sure you mention the other attributes you developed through the experience that are relevant to the role – such as communication, research and teamwork – to pack your covering letter with other qualities sought by Swiss Re.
- Extensive travel
- Study or voluntary/paid work abroad
- Clubs, societies or community involvement
- Research involving foreign countries or international communities
- Projects exploring a multicultural or international topic, or involving an intercontinental team
The business language across Swiss Re is English, so speaking another tongue isn’t a prerequisite unless this is indicated on the job posting. However, one Swiss Re human resources associate told TARGETjobs being fluent in an additional language is an advantage due to the global nature of the business.
Include your language skills in your CV under an ‘additional skills’ heading if you’re fluent. The language skills section of the application form asks how proficient you are, so you’ll be able to state whether you’re a native, advanced or basic speaker.
Swiss Re is curious about your pursuits outside university and work. Past applicants have been asked at interview something along the lines of, ‘What do you like to do outside work?’. It’s essential that you have one or two examples that you can discuss, and if you’re able to relate them to your desired position or the business – all the better.
For example, if you intend to apply for a graduate position in the risk management division, which would see you working with colleagues from different nationalities, you could mention an interest or activity that involved engaging with a wide range of people. Perhaps you had an international experience similar to those mentioned above?
The brochure says: ‘You must be able to analyse and think conceptually.’ This is because roles across Swiss Re’s eight business areas require analytical skills. Julia Bartelt, a junior actuary at Swiss Re, told TARGETjobs City & Finance: ‘One of the main tasks of my team is to estimate ultimate losses, premiums and costs every quarter. These calculations lead to the reserves needed to pay the future liabilities of Swiss Re, which represent an important part of the organisation's balance sheet.’ The team will have to analyse data to be able to make such estimations.
Past graduates have been asked about their degree course at interview. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate that you’re analytical, as many of your assignments will have involved a level of analysis. Alternatively, interviewers may ask you a competency question, such as ‘Tell me a time when...’ or ‘Give me an example of...’, to establish if you have this aptitude – you can discuss your degree here also.
Swiss Re says in its brochure: ‘You must be able to... accept responsibility for your own decisions and actions.’ This means understanding the requirements of your role, taking ownership of your responsibilities, and making informed choices that you believe in and will stand by.
If you were in the team mentioned by Julia above, Swiss Re would expect you to be accountable for your contribution. But the team’s estimations wouldn’t be made lightly; they would follow thorough analysis, research and discussion.
The assessment day, which will include a group exercise and a presentation, is a good opportunity to demonstrate this quality. Do this by identifying your role and responsibilities, and working with colleagues and the available information to ensure you meet your objectives, both as an individual and as part of the group.
Deliver results (or solutions)
Swiss Re wants you to be able to ‘deliver high-quality solutions, even under pressure’. Interviewers may test you on this competency with questions such as ‘Where did you encounter difficulties in your professional life and how did you deal with them?’.
You should focus your response on how you dealt with the challenge and the subsequent result. Make sure you take into account that delivering results encompasses other competencies, such as problem solving, initiative and effective communication.
Past candidates taking part in the group exercise at Swiss Re’s assessment day have been presented with additional information halfway through the task. This is a great opportunity for you to show that you’re able to deliver results and achieve solutions, even under pressure.
Swiss Re graduate employees who responded to the organisation’s Inside Buzz survey said they were asked a commercial awareness question at their face-to-face interview, such as ‘What do you know about Swiss Re and reinsurance?’ or ‘Can you give us any relevant statistics on our company?’. It’s highly likely that you will be too.
Conducting thorough research is the only way to prepare for commercial awareness questions. Begin your research by reading Swiss Re’s organisation profile and watching the short video clips on its TARGETjobs employer hub. These will give you an overview of what the company does and an insight into the social and environmental issues that influence its business decisions.
Our article ‘What does Swiss Re do? Make sure you know' is also a great resource to help you develop your understanding of the business, as it simplifies the company’s structure and operation, and the industry to which it belongs. The article also advises you on how to apply this knowledge through the different stages of the recruitment process.
However, you must venture beyond the employer hub to deepen your commercial awareness. Swiss Re’s website is an obvious stop-off point. Its ‘about us’ and ‘media’ sections contain a huge amount of information – the latter, for instance, consists of news releases dating back to 2004 about the reinsurer’s activities across the globe.
There’s clearly a lot of information available about Swiss Re and the reinsurance industry. So that you don’t end up flummoxed, define topics for your research, such as: Swiss Re, reinsurance, my chosen division and recent events. As you conduct your research, note down what you believe are key bits of information under the appropriate heading.