Recruiters at Alfa look for ‘evidence of outstanding talent and achievement’ in their applicants. For the best chance of securing an interview, your CV and cover letter should attest to this. There are no competency or motivation questions on the Alfa application form, so everything but your personal information, education and grades, work experience, skills and languages needs to be communicated by your CV and cover letter.
CVs and cover letters
Demonstrate your interest in technology and finance
Alfa states that it is not necessary for candidates to have a technical background, but they do need to be enthusiastic and keen to learn about technology and finance. You need to be able to demonstrate this enthusiasm on your CV: if not through your course then – most importantly – through your extracurricular activities, individual pursuits, work experience (if applicable) and skills. In your cover letter, rather than simply saying you are passionate about technology and finance, draw on these examples to back it up. You might, for example, have used your summer to learn a programming language, or been a member of a student robotics society – don't leave it there, though, you need to go deeper: tell Alfa what you have specifically worked on within that society. What elements of technology do you focus on when you're there?
Demonstrate your adaptability
The Alfa graduate role involves much client interaction and work on their sites; you will therefore be expected to work away from the office for up to four days a week, when working on client projects (as opposed to internal projects). It is hence important that you are adaptable, keen to travel and confident in new environments, as well as possessing excellent client-facing and interpersonal skills. You should emphasise your understanding of this in your cover letter, and remember to show how your previous experience makes you a suitable candidate; for instance, have you developed skills from a gap year trip that involved frequent location changes or working abroad?
Alfa’s CSR: how do you fit in?
In addition to the work itself, it is worth demonstrating an appreciation of Alfa’s values. The firm supports many charities, such as Cancer Research UK. Its CSR activities include:
- an employee volunteering scheme
- fundraising for charity partners
- the donation of equipment (such as old laptops) to local schools
- a commitment to reducing the firm's environmental impact
You might like to mention one or more of these – and if you can tie them in with any of your past ventures then do so. Have you volunteered locally or raised money for an environmental cause? You should put that in your cover letter as well as CV, making the link to Alfa explicit. Remember, however, that this should add to your cover letter, rather than being its main focus.
Uploading your CV and cover letter
Candidates complete a very simple application form, after which they upload their CV and cover letter in one document.
Before you upload, check – as always – for any spelling and grammatical mistakes: you don’t want to put in all that effort for it to get thrown out over a typo.
The interview process at Alfa
If your application is shortlisted, you will be invited to take part in a telephone interview, which will be followed by two face-to face interviews: an HR interview and a final interview with members of the operational board. Showing how you stand out from the crowd can be tough, the firm acknowledges. It is advisable, therefore, to have a think before each interview ‘about the achievements and experiences that make you the best person for the job’.
What to expect from an Alfa telephone interview
The Alfa telephone interview is used primarily to gauge communication skills. It is mainly composed of straightforward conversational questions (eg: ‘Tell me about yourself’ and ‘What do you know about the company?’).
Face-to-face interviews at Alfa
At the first round interview with Alfa, candidates will meet an HR representative and a senior manager in person, while the final interview will be attended by two members of the operational board. Unlike the telephone interview, the two face-to-face interviews are likely to involve some questions about asset finance and project development, so a basic understanding of the sector is necessary.
The company actually provides advice on interview preparation on its website, saying that Alfa 'needs to be sure you are actually interested in the different facets of the role, so researching and showing an enthusiasm for the industry and our projects is a must'.