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McDonald's trainee manager application process explained

If you are applying to be a trainee manager at McDonald’s, you can expect the recruitment process to typically last between four and eight weeks. There are five stages:

  1. The online application
  2. The personality questionnaire
  3. The assessment centre
  4. The on-job evaluation (OJE)
  5. The final interview

Throughout the selection process, McDonald’s recruiters will be assessing you against the key behaviours listed in the ‘What we look for in our future leaders’ section of the trainee manager job posting on this TARGETjobs employer hub  and against the five values they expect all employees to uphold, which are known as the ‘vital ingredients’:

  • Value and respect
  • Friendly and fast
  • Make it special
  • Be you
  • Enjoy what you do

Keep these in mind throughout the process and, whenever you are asked to give an example, try to give one that also shows how you meet the behaviours and vital ingredients.

Stage 1: What does McDonald’s online application involve?

The online form asks for personal details, two references, educational history and some short answers (no more than 500 words) to six competency questions. The six questions are delivered under four headings – teamwork, leadership, customer service and career choice.

McDonald’s teamwork application question

As a McDonald's Manager you will be responsible for the direction, development and results of your team. Tell us about a time when you had your greatest success in building team spirit. What specific results did the team accomplish? (max 500 words)

McDonald’s leadership application question

A successful McDonald's Manager will consistently re-evaluate the business, providing solutions to problems they encounter and looking for new ways to develop the business. Describe a time when you have encountered a problem and implemented your ideas to overcome this. What was the outcome? (max 500 words)

McDonald’s customer service application question

Exceptional Customer Service is a core company value and vital to a successful McDonald's Restaurant. Describe a situation where you have exceeded what was expected of you. What did you do, and what was the end result? (max 500 words)

McDonald’s career choice application questions

  • What appeals to you about Restaurant Management and what qualities/experiences make you suitable for the position? (max 500 words)
  • Which of your past jobs have you enjoyed most and why? (max 500 words)
  • What were the negative aspects of this job? (max 500 words)

What are the best examples to use to answer McDonald’s application questions?

Jess Wheatley, talent acquisition officer at McDonald’s, has told TARGETjobs: 'Simply stating that you enjoy and are good at working in a team, being a manager or working with the public won’t be enough. We’ll want to see that you have demonstrated these skills and that you’ve achieved a positive outcome.’

Examples should demonstrate the key behaviours and vital ingredients, but in reality are some examples better than others? ‘Although it would be great if you can show us that you’ve used these skills in a busy commercial environment, we know that, as a student or graduate, you may not have had the chance yet to manage people or work as part of a large team,’ says Jess. ‘So, if you were lucky enough to be left in charge of the bar at university then you could mention how you organised the staff roster to arrange constant cover, ensured that you never ran out of stock and came up with loads of ideas that kept the tills ringing – that would be perfect.’

However, don’t worry if you weren’t. You can still make the most of your other experiences. As Jess says: ‘If you were in charge of anything from a sports team to a drama group or have undertaken voluntary work, don’t just tell us about what you achieved – show us why you did what you did, how you helped and coached others and how you went about doing it.’ Ultimately, it is how you went about achieving your goals that McDonald’s recruiters are interested in: it is this that will tell them whether you are capable of demonstrating the key behaviours and vital ingredients.

What does McDonald’s want to see in your career choice application answers?

To answer these questions, you need to have a good understanding of the day-to-day work of a trainee manager and have the skills needed to succeed. ‘Tell us why you think you’ve got what it takes to join our business and be a successful manager,’ advises Jess. ‘This is your chance to show that you’ve done your research and understand what the role involves – and what it is about you that makes you perfect to be a manager in one of our restaurants.’

When writing about the job you most enjoy, stress how the aspects you enjoyed the most align with the trainee manager role. Writing that you enjoyed decision-making and reacting quickly when you were, for example, a pool lifeguard – and that you enjoyed the interaction with the public, providing good service – would impress because this would indicate that you would enjoy the work at McDonald’s. Similarly, when asked to outline the negatives, it would be advantageous if the negatives weren’t something that you would face on a daily basis at McDonald’s. For example, if you felt isolated when completing a role in which you worked on your own, it would imply that you would appreciate the teamwork offered by McDonald’s. However, if the negative aspects of the job do coincide with some of the challenges you might face when at McDonald’s, you could also state how you have made those negatives bearable or how the positives outweigh them.

Stage 2: What does McDonald’s personality questionnaire involve?

Following submission of the application form, candidates are asked to complete a personality test, designed to evaluate their personal values and suitability for the role. Its main focus is on leadership qualities and the ability to work well in a team.

Stage 3: What does McDonald’s assessment day involve?

McDonald’s assessment day is held in its UK head office in East Finchley, London, between 11.00 am and 4.00 pm. You can expect to be one of approximately 15 candidates. The assessment day consists of a number of exercises that would be expected at any assessment centre – don’t be surprised if you are given a presentation, a group exercise, a case study and/or an interview.

‘The purpose of the assessment day is for us to find out more about you,’ says Jess. ‘It sounds a cliché, but we honestly want you to be yourself. You will have lots of opportunities over the day to talk about yourself, your interests and what motivates you: be authentic.’ It’s a good opportunity for you to find out whether McDonald’s suits you. ‘A wide range of staff will be on hand to answer questions, give advice and talk generally about the organisation. Make the most of the opportunity to find out what you want to know,' Ilona adds.

However, to impress, your questions do need to be based on some knowledge. 'Some people come to us having not read anything we’ve sent them, but the more you know, the more likely it is that you will have informed questions to ask,’ Jess says. Your preparation should go beyond reading the information given to you. You should have a good look around McDonald’s recruitment website and its videos on YouTube. Look further afield for mentions of the company across other media and business-related websites. Read about how its competitors are doing in the market place and their business strategies, too.

What areas of the assessment day do candidates tend to struggle with? ‘Some candidates can panic at the idea of presenting to an audience,’ says Jess. ‘I suggest taking every opportunity to practise speaking in front of different people, whether that is through going to a coaching session or workshop at your careers service or speaking up at a student society or in a seminar.’

You should also brush up on your numeracy skills, as, ultimately, you are applying for a business management role and so need to be comfortable with numbers. ‘You won’t necessarily be given an aptitude test, but we may include percentages, ratios and other numbers in case studies or in information about us,’ says Jess. If it has been a while since you have had to work out percentages and similar, do some revision so that you are unfazed by any calculations that may be required.

Read TARGETjobs’ advice on handling different elements of an assessment centre.

Stage 4: What does McDonald’s on-job evaluation involve?

The on-job evaluation (OJE) is an assessment lasting from 11.00 am to 6.00 pm, in which candidates try out various tasks on the shop floor. Candidates join a restaurant crew, learning about customer service, cash-handling, equipment maintenance, food hygiene and health and safety, complaint handling and shift management.

‘This is an opportunity to really experience what it is like to work a shift, so that you know what to expect in the role,’ says Jess.

Get more advice on the OJE and how to impress on the day.

Stage 5: What does McDonald’s final interview involve?

The final stage is an interview with an operations manager. This may cover educational and work history, your motivation to join the company and basic competencies. It’s also an opportunity for candidates to ask questions about the job and future prospects.

Get more advice on how to succeed at McDonald's final interview.

The company usually contacts candidates within ten days regarding job offers once the assessment process is complete.

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