Past questions from CGI graduate interviews and how to answer

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Here are some previous CGI graduate interview questions, with advice on how you might approach something like them. Keep in mind, though, that interview questions can and do vary from year to year.

Past CGI interview question: Why have you applied to CGI?

Try to think of things that interest you about CGI, such as its sustainability efforts or its work in a wide variety of different sectors (such as health, financial services, oil and gas, and transport, to name a few). Interviews are also an opportunity to expand and develop on the answers you submitted in your application form. However, keep in mind that, while your initial application might have been generic, you will have been matched to a specific industry within CGI during the telephone interview. As well as speaking about the company as a whole, make sure your answer reflects the role you are applying for.

As well as your enthusiasm and interest in the organisation, when recruiters ask this question they are also looking to see evidence that you have done your research before the interview. CGI often publish case studies and reports on their website, which you can read for more details about specific projects that the company has been involved in.

Past CGI interview question: What do you think you will be doing in this role?

This question is designed to find out what you know about the job you're applying for and to determine whether you've made a considered career choice. The best way to answer is to come armed with a good knowledge of the relevant CGI graduate scheme and the types of projects involved. You can find useful information in the FAQs section on the company's graduate careers website, and make use of any opportunities to speak to any current graduates at CGI, such as during recruitment fairs, networking events or assessment centres. You can read profiles of CGI graduates and more experienced professions here, and more information about the different areas of work can be found on CGI’s website.

Past CGI interview question: Tell me about a time when you have dealt with failure

Much like questions about weaknesses, this can be tricky; having to discuss a negative experience or trait can seem daunting. Notice that the question is asking about how you dealt with failure, as opposed to the failure itself – so, beyond providing necessary context, it’s best not to spend too long recounting details if it will only show you in a negative light. However, this is a good opportunity to show that you are able to learn from your mistakes and that you have the determination to recover from setbacks, which tie in closely with CGI's 'resilience and commitment to excellence' competency.

You could even use this question to show how you have developed key skills: for example, if you received a poor grade in a group project because you failed to communicate effectively with the team, you can show how the experience has changed your behaviour and improved both your communication and collaborative working skills. Above all, it's important to show that you understand where you originally went wrong and that you have taken steps to rectify the problem.

Past CGI interview question: Tell me about a time you went the extra mile for a customer

If you have an example from a job or internship, this is ideal. CGI specifies that communication (both oral and written) is a key skill for its graduates, so recruiters will be looking out for this as well examples of times you worked with customers. For example, perhaps you worked late to deal with a customer's last-minute request or change of brief, or to solve a problem for them. It’s important to remember that your example doesn't have to be technology-related: maybe you worked in a shop and had to sort out a tricky problem with a faulty product or delayed order.

If you don't have an example from working life, think flexibly about who could be classed as a 'customer'. For example, perhaps you are a member of the committee of a university society and turned out at midnight to rescue a fellow student's dissertation from a crashing computer. Or maybe you took charge of sound effects for a student show and worked flat-out to make the director's requested changes in the 24 hours between the tech and the dress rehearsal.

Past CGI interview question: Describe a challenge you overcame

Try to choose an example that was a genuine challenge for you. Your answer will give the interviewer some indication of what you consider challenging, so if you talk about something you didn't really struggle with it will give the impression that you are less able than you are.

You could talk about a challenge from any area of your life: it could be an academic challenge such as a module that you found particularly difficult, a work-based challenge such as overcoming your nerves when presenting to clients, or even a physical challenge such as completing the Three Peaks Challenge for charity.

Whatever your example, make sure you emphasise how you overcame the challenge and how this has benefited you in the long run. You could also bring in some of CGI's competencies here, for example how you applied your intellect or worked collaboratively to tackle your challenge.

Past CGI interview question: Describe a time where you made a profit for your company

You may need to think laterally and, if necessary, resort to an example from an extracurricular or voluntary activity rather than a job with a company. Remember that you can make profit either by increasing revenue or cutting costs. Have you suggested a way to increase customer spend (such as a two-for-one promotion on bar snacks or rearranging shop merchandise), cut costs (eg finding a cheaper supplier for printer paper), been part of a project to launch a new product or service (eg developing a new piece of software on an internship), or played an active part in any activity for which participants paid a fee (eg designing a webpage to promote an event or entertainment)? Just remember to select a project that resulted in a profit rather than a loss!

Other past questions on commercial acumen

CGI looks for candidates with a good level of commercial acumen and knowledge of the company. As well as asking questions about graduates' own experiences in a commercial environment, CGI has also asked previous candidates questions about its business, services, markets, and competitors, such as:

  • Name one of CGI's key competitors. How do they compare?
  • What are some of the current trends in IT?

Questions of this kind not only demonstrate your research skills and your ability to keep up to date with what's happening in the industry, but also give you a chance to show that you are able to analyse market trends and form conclusions. This is a particularly important skill for a company that specialises in coming up with bespoke solutions for its clients, so think carefully before answering.

Past technical questions at CGI interviews

If you are applying for a technical graduate scheme, you can expect to be asked to talk through your technical knowledge or skills during interviews. Some previous technical interview questions have included:

  • What is SSL?
  • What is OSI?
  • Tell me about your final year project.
  • What do you know about Oracle databases?

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