Essential preparation for your interview with TfL
Interviews for Transport for London graduate schemes include:
- an initial telephone interview (or potentially two telephone interviews)
- a face-to-face interview as part of the assessment centre.
As with the initial application form, TfL recommends the use of the ‘STAR’ technique when approaching interview questions (particularly those based around competencies and behaviours). This involves explaining a situation you’ve faced, what your task was, what action you took, and what the end result was.
Transport for London interview topics
Be prepared to answer questions on the following topics, both during your phone interview and face-to-face:
- your competencies
- technical/specialist aspects of the specific scheme for which you are applying
- your motivation for applying to Transport for London, and to your chosen scheme
- potentially, hypothetical questions regarding potential challenges you could face.
Remind yourself of the skills Transport for London seeks by re-reading its minimum entry criteria on its graduate website, as well as any specific skills mentioned in relation to your chosen scheme. You may also find it helpful to read our advice on competency interviews and, if relevant, on technical interviews for engineering graduate jobs or technical interviews for IT graduate jobs.
Past TfL interview questions
To give you a feel for what to expect, we've compiled lists of questions that previous graduate scheme interviewees have been asked at Transport for London. However, questions will differ from year to year and from scheme to scheme.
Past competency questions have included:
- Commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion: ‘Please give an example of a time when you worked with someone from a different background, sex or age. Why do you think equality and diversity is important for everyday work at TfL?’
- Customer focus: ‘Please give an example of a time when you have gone out of your way to help a customer or client.’
- Collaboration: ‘Please give an example of a time when you worked as part of a team. What was your contribution to the team?’
- Keen to seek out new opportunities; working towards goals: ‘Please give an example of a time when you set yourself an ambitious goal and were successful.’
Past technical/specialist questions depend upon the scheme in question. For example:
- an applicant to the project management graduate scheme reports being asked about the project life cycle
- an applicant to the civils graduate scheme reports being asked about the behaviour of a structure
- an applicant to the mechanical engineering graduate scheme reports being asked about platform screen doors.
Some past applicants have also been asked hypothetical questions such as:
- How would you manage congestion on the Underground at peak times during the London Olympics? What strategies would you use to cope with this?
- What additional costs could be incurred if the Underground operating time was extended by one hour at weekends?
- What would you do if the public-announcement system broke down at a station during rush hour?
How to answer hypothetical questions at Transport for London interviews
To succeed in hypothetical questions at Transport for London:
- Keep an open mind. Don’t assume that there is one ‘right’ answer that you must produce.
- Use your common sense. Recruiters want to see if you can think round a problem that you have not encountered before.
- Think outside the job area that you are applying to. For instance, looking at the question about the public announcement system breaking, candidates for technical programmes should think beyond technical solutions (eg ways to fix the system quickly or improvise a new one) and consider other communication options too (eg getting more staff on the platforms to answer questions, tweeting updates or digging out a good old-fashioned megaphone).
- Keep the different ingredients of the transport system in mind when answering, eg staff, passengers, vehicles, buildings, infrastructure, power sources. For example, in the question about extending operating times at the weekend there would be increased staff costs, increased wear and tear on trains, tracks, station buildings etc and increased power costs.
- If the question hints at a particular time of day or of the year, consider whether this is likely to have an impact. For example, returning to the question about extending operating times, you might work on the premise that the extra hour would be added at the end of the day and that factors such as colder temperatures, the anti-social nature of the extra working hour for staff and having fewer, drunker passengers would have an effect upon costs.