1. Get an internship
GE has an extensive internship programme and tries to fill as many of its graduate roles as possible with interns. ‘It’s try before you buy,’ says Lorna Bullett, head of GE’s early talent recruitment team in the UK. ‘The graduate programmes are pretty intensive so find if people struggle then when they come off the programme they’re going to struggle going into the wider company.’
Around 40 per cent of engineering graduate places still go to people who haven’t done a GE internship. And the company also offers other entry-level roles that aren’t part of the formal graduate scheme.
But GE still likes these candidates to have done some kind of engineering internship. ‘Ideally we would have liked them to have done an internship for a year or at least a summer, and something that’s relevant to the role,’ says Bullett. ‘Although as long as it’s in a similar technical environment it doesn’t matter what industry it’s in.’
However, there are exceptions, she adds, particularly in roles requiring niche skills. ‘It might be we find someone who’s done a master’s in embedded software engineering and they haven’t done any work experience but actually they’re a perfect fit technically for the role.’ Sometimes, these candidates will be asked to join on an internship contract and move to a permanent role once they’ve proved themselves.
2. Make sure you CV is detailed
The first step to getting a job with the CV is ticking all the boxes with a detailed CV. This should include a detailed list of the modules you’ve studied as part of your degree course and the grades you received. And don’t forget your A-level results.
‘Software engineering, for example, is quite a broad subject area so for some of our roles we might want people who’ve done specific app development or things like embdedded systems. And sometimes a degree title is not enough to be able to drill down into that.
3. Practice online testing
After your CV is accepted, you’ll be given an online test to see if you’re the right kind of person for GE. That means your attitudes and behaviours, rather than your technical or reasoning abilities.
‘It’s a situational test judgement test and there’s lots of information out there if people want to Google them,’ says Bulllett. ‘We basically say what would be your response to this question or scenario and you’re given options to choose from. The three key areas we look at are working with people, the ability to adapt to change, and deciding and initiating action. They’re all quite critical to any role and all three are equally important so we’re looking for a minimum score across all three areas.’
GE’s operations in the UK stretch from aerospace to oil and gas.
4. Work out why you want to work for GE
Final candidates are invited to an assessment centre for interviews, presentation and group work. If you’re applying for an internship you’ll just be asked to do the interviews, one over the phone and one in person.
‘Candidates need to be able to express why they’re interested in that role and why they’re interested in GE,’ says Bullett. ‘Some people are able to demonstrate an absolute passion for the function but can’t articulate anything about why they’d want to come and work for GE.
‘Those sorts of things are very easy for people to do beforehand: basic Google searches on the company, understand who we are. If people just say it looked like a good opportunity it doesn’t really tell us much about them.
5. Prepare examples of your engineering skills
You’ll also be interviewed on your competence as an engineer. For this you’ll need to have thought of several examples where you’ve demonstrated different skills.
‘Good candidates who’ve spent time preparing will probably only need to come up with have four or five scenarios that can cover a multitude of different competency questions,’ says Bullett.
‘There’s loads of information available on the internet about interviews but reading that isn’t enough. You’ve got to take yourself back to your experience and what you want the interviewer to know about you, what have you done well, what have you not done well but learnt from.’
6. Get used to working well with others
‘The group exercise is more difficult to prepare for because you’re being thrown in with a group of people you don’t know and you’ve no idea what the activity could be,’ says Bullett.
But you can get used to this kind of experience while still at university by joining new clubs and social groups and trying new things. ‘It’s about putting yourself outside your comfort zone and doing something you wouldn’t normally do,’ says Bullett.
In particular you’ll need to develop an understanding that people from other cultures may have different ways of interacting. Some may not be used to interrupting group discussions and others may have no problem wading in and talking over people.
‘We’re not looking for somebody who’s going to manage people and be the leader,’ says Bullett. ‘We’re looking for people who understand you have to work as a team and sometimes that means you might need to not say what you want to say and give somebody else the opportunity to speak.
7. Follow instructions carefully
With the presentation you have plenty of time to practice but it’s vital you understand what’s being asked of you by following the details you’re given in advance.
‘That can be really basic things like, for example, the instructions saying the presentation must be no more than 2MB and has to be delivered by this date: if people don’t follow instructions they’ve already lost a few marks for not meeting the basic criteria,’ says Bullett.
‘But it’s also about taking the time to think through what you’ve got to do and be prepared for it, trying to think about if this is assessing my ability to present or what it is I am presenting. They’re quite two different things: sometimes it’s both and sometimes it’s one or the other.’