The key sections of the Sky application form and how to approach them

Image for The key sections of the Sky application form and how to approach them

How to answer Sky’s application form questions: What attracted you to Sky? | What appealed to you about the role? | What are key priorities for Sky? | Commercial awareness questions | Technical experience questions | Technical knowledge questions | Business questions

Before you start writing your application for Sky, it's a good idea to have done some thorough research into Sky, the graduate programme you've applied to and its graduate competencies. This will help you when it comes to the 'role specific questions' section of the Sky application form. This section includes open questions about why you have applied for the scheme and how your skills fit the bill.

Answering the ‘Role specific questions’ on Sky’s graduate application form

The majority of Sky’s graduate schemes will ask four questions in this section of the application; two of these tend to follow the same format for every scheme, while the other two questions cover a variety of scheme-specific topics.

For example, technology applicants may be asked why they think innovation is so important and which innovative Sky products are good examples of this, while finance applicants could be asked about who Sky's competitors are and which two pose the biggest threat.

All of these questions have a word limit of 250 words.

What attracted you to working for Sky and why does this appeal to you?

Here are some things that you could consider to help tailor your answer:

  • One of the key things Sky looks for in candidates is passion and enthusiasm for the company and its products, so a vague and generic response won’t cut it: you need to show that you’ve done your research. What is it about the company that most interests you? Is it the fact that it’s the fastest-growing provider of home communications in the UK? Is it its around £6.5bn annual investment in content? Or is it Sky’s £25mn investment in the Sky Ocean Rescue campaign, which works to reduce plastic pollution and improve wildlife welfare in the Earth’s oceans. Think along the same lines for its products and services too: which of its programmes couldn’t you live without – are you a keen user of the Sky Store? – and which products and services do you want to play a part in?
  • Do some research. It’s a cliché, but knowing about the company and its industry really is vital. For example, you could read up on Sky’s annual reports from previous years to see how the business and its strategy has changed, or look into what a key competitor, such as Virgin Media, has done recently.
  • How will joining Sky help you achieve your career aspirations? Think about the training options and the future career paths that will be available to you. The length of the programme you’re applying to could also have an impact: are you looking to start a permanent role as soon as possible, or do you want a number of placements first?
  • Consider what kinds of projects you might get involved with. Want to work on Sky’s smartphone apps? Got ideas for new customer service programmes? Explain what you think you can bring to the business.
  • DON’T just reel off a list of compliments about Sky – explain why its success appeals to you and how it would benefit your career.

At Sky we offer a range of programmes and opportunities for graduates. What aspects of the [programme] appealed to you and why did you choose to apply for this specific programme?

Here are some things you could consider to help tailor your answer:

  • This question is similar in some ways to the previous one, as it tests your knowledge of the role you’re applying to. Consider using similar techniques to identify what kinds of tasks you would be doing in the post and then think about the kinds of soft skills you’d need to complete them effectively.
  • What does the programme you’re applying to offer that you couldn’t get elsewhere? For example, maybe it’s the thought of honing your technical skills in a marketing environment that attracts you to the technical programme. If you’re applying for a finance scheme, explain why you’ve chosen Sky over a bank or a more typical finance employer – remember, if you’re explaining why you want to work in this particular area you need to be clear about why you want to do it. Sky has previously said that marketing is by far their most popular graduate programme for applications, but have asked that candidates research the role thoroughly, and not just focus on brand advertising.
  • On certain schemes, Sky will sponsor you through professional qualifications. Consider how this fits into your career ambitions and the potential for progression on the graduate scheme. How will the responsibilities and specifics of the graduate scheme help you to gain these qualifications?
  • Refer back to the job description to get an idea of the sorts of attributes that might be useful. For example, the project management role involves a lot of strategic thinking as well as a strong customer focus, while the marketing programme requires a great deal of creativity. Try not to just copy the person specification – the question is asking for your opinion .
  • You could use this as an opportunity to highlight how well you’re suited to the role by including an explanation of how you have demonstrated these skills in your past work experience or extracurricular activities.

What do you think are the key priorities for the [business area] department at Sky?

Here are some things you could consider to help tailor your answer:

  • Think logically. You may not know the ins and outs of your chosen area if you haven’t already studied it – after all, most of Sky’s programmes accept any degree subject, so try to think through the kinds of work the department might do. You might not include all of this in your answer, but thinking about all of the different tasks will help you to work out which sorts of projects will be a priority.
  • Look at Sky as a whole. Some of the company’s priorities over the coming years are to expand its range of offerings and to continue its ‘Bigger Picture’ sustainability drive. How will these initiatives affect individual departments? What will the finance department, for example, have to do to support these plans?
  • DON’T list absolutely everything you can think of to do with that department – the question is looking for key priorities.

Answering commercial awareness questions

Some schemes will directly ask you about the industries that Sky operates in, such as by asking: ‘Who are Sky’s competitors? Which two do you think currently pose the biggest threat and why?’

Here are some things you could consider to help tailor your answer:

  • Again, doing your research in advance of answering this question is key. Think about what sets Sky apart from its competitors – what are its USPs (unique selling points)? Conversely, you should also think about some of these competitors’ own USPs and how they may do certain things better, or differently, to Sky.
  • Sky has its fingers in many pies (such as broadcast television, on-demand television, internet service provision, mobile telephone networks, etc), so consider Sky’s competitors throughout these sectors.
  • Make sure to expand on your points and properly answer ‘Why?’, rather than just regurgitating facts about Sky and its competitors. Your analysis of why these other companies is what will distinguish you from other applicants. Some questions may ask you to expand on who you think is a ‘biggest threat’. What constitutes a ‘big’ threat may be subjective, so make sure to explain your reasoning.

Questions about your technical experience

If you are applying for a technical graduate scheme, you will likely to encounter a question that gives you the opportunity to expand on your own experiences. Questions on this theme include: ‘Have you ever developed a software application?’ and ‘Have you contributed to open source projects?’

Here are some things you could consider to help structure your answer:

  • Make sure to highlight your own involvement in these projects and the result of this, as opposed to talking about the generalities of the project as a whole. A good way to structure your answers is by following STAR – outline the S ituation, the Task , your A ctions and the R esults of your actions.
  • Go into detail about the methods you used in these examples: for instance, talk about which coding languages you used, how many people your worked with and how you worked with them. Collaborative work is extremely likely in a workplace scenario, so this is something recruiters want to see that you have experience of.
  • If relevant, don’t be afraid to include links to websites you’ve worked on or examples of your involvement in open source projects (such as your GitHub profile).

Answering questions about your technical knowledge

Some of Sky’s graduate programmes, especially its Software Engineering Academy programmes, will ask more general questions about technology as a whole. These can be on topics such as cyber security or public WiFi. These questions are designed to assess your knowledge of the latest goings-on in your chosen field.

How to approach these questions:

  • Make sure you have done your research and are able to articulate your thoughts clearly.
  • Rather than trying to fit an exhaustive account into the 250 word limit, you’ll be better served by picking out one or two examples.
  • Recruiters want to see your insight. Go into detail about ‘why’ you picked the examples you picked. If you can pick out a distinctive example and back this up with solid reasoning, you’ll be sure to impress.

You may also encounter questions which are more specifically about Sky’s role in technical fields (such as questions similar to: ’Why do you think innovation is so important and which innovative Sky products do you think are good examples of this?’ Similar to the above questions, demonstrating your reasoning and your insight is key for this question. You need to pick an aspect of Sky’s products and place this within the context of your knowledge of technology. Explaining the ‘why’ behind your choice and ‘why’ it helps Sky stand out from its competitors is key.

Answering role-specific questions for business programmes

If you’re applying to one of Sky’s business or finance graduate programmes, the role-specific questions you’ll encounter will assess your knowledge of general business practice, as well as how well you understand how Sky specifically operates.

For instance, finance applicants have previously been asked: ‘what are three key priorities of finance at Sky and why?’ ; while other graduates have previously been asked: ‘What do you think makes a great customer experience and why?’

How to approach these questions:

  • Draw upon your knowledge of the sectors that Sky operates in, so as to narrow down your answer and help you to make your answer specific to Sky. For example, a positive customer experience in a retail business is probably different from a positive customer experience in a technology and media company.
  • Think about the specifications for the role you are applying for and apply the skills that are being asked for to potential workplace scenarios – why might they be useful and how might this reflect the response that recruiters are looking for. For instance – and purely as an example – if technology skills are asked for in finance roles, you could focus your answer on technological developments in finance.
  • Back up your answers with reasoning. Make sure to explain ‘why’ you have answered the way you have. Due to the word count this may be tricky (especially if you are asked to offer three examples), but you need to back up your knowledge to show that you understand it.

Don’t forget!

It is always advisable to type up your answers into Microsoft Word or Pages (or other word processing software) and then copy and paste them into the application form, rather than typing directly into the form. This way, you won’t be at risk of the web page timing out or unexpectedly refreshing. You’ll also be able to pay close attention to the word count, to make sure you don’t stray over 250 words.

Always read over your answers and check them thoroughly for spelling and grammar mistakes. However much you claim that you have ‘a strong attention to detail’, it won’t mean much if your answers are full of errors. One or two small errors won’t be the end of the world, but you want to present the best possible image of yourself as possible.

Spotlight organisations

Get inspired