Top job application tips from EY’s Andri Stephanou

EY's graduate scheme receives thousands of applications every year. Debut spoke to their recruitment team directly for exclusive job application advice.
Brenda Wong
Brenda Wong

EY, one of the Times’ top 10 graduate recruiters in the UK, receives tens of thousands of applications for their graduate schemes every year. If anyone knows about graduate recruitment, it’s definitely them.

Ahead of the opening of EY’s graduate recruitment intake, we spoke with Andri Stephanou from the graduate recruitment team to get you some exclusive job application advice.

On standing out from the  pile of job applications

Typing out a job application

What is the one personality trait that would make an interview candidate stand out at EY? 

We hire a variety of individuals with various strengths and backgrounds, so it’s hard to pin point just one personality trait. However, strong communication skills are required in all of our service lines, so this is a great skill to have in our interview/assessment process.

EY recently announced that it would remove qualifications from its selection criteria, meaning students will no longer need a minimum of 300 UCAS points and a 2:1 degree to make an application. Why have you done this and what is the benefit for students, and the impact particularly for those who have worked hard to achieve a good degree? 

Transforming our recruitment process will open up opportunities at EY for talented individuals regardless of their background. Academic qualifications remain an important consideration, but will no longer act as a barrier to getting a foot in the door.

Candidates are assessed on their strengths and future potential by identifying what candidates do best and what they like doing most. We can help them excel in the role that’s right for them.

Being one of the best and biggest professional services firms in the UK, EY must receive a huge volume of graduate applications, how do you ensure every application receives the attention it deserves?

Our process is robust. We have a large team dedicated to managing all applications, ensuring all candidates are communicated with effectively throughout. A great candidate experience is fundamental– we provide candidates with feedback to help them in their career search and speak to each candidate before their first interview and again before the assessment centre. We also gather feedback from candidates to ensure we address and concerns and remain efficient.

Gearing up for success in the later stages of the application

job application EY board room

What part of the assessment centre is generally found to be the most challenging. What can you suggest candidates can do to prepare for this? 

Our Assessment Centre includes activities such as a group exercise, a written exercise, a presentation and a final interview. It’s worth spending time researching EY, the service lines and role applied for so that candidates can tailor their knowledge, as well as thinking through how best to engage peers in group work, and how best to communicate their strengths.

With so many variations on the modern working environment, what are the ground rules of interview etiquette at EY, i.e. dress code etc. 

As a professional services firm, our office dress code is business casual. We instruct our candidates to dress the same. A formal suit and tie is not required, but we do of course need to be aware of client preference when working offsite.

What are the most common failings of applicants to EY and how can candidates avoid them? 

One of the biggest pitfalls is when a candidate applies for a role or location which they are not truly interested in. This comes through in the assessment process and may ultimately end up in no offer! Your motivation for the role is fundamental/important.

How is Debut changing your recruitment process?

By using Debut, we will be able to access an even wider pool of talented candidates in a way that is familiar to our audience- via mobile. It will allow us to interact with candidates directly and provide a more personalised and relevant communication which is key in driving engagement.

What can students do to prepare for EY’s ‘strengths portal’?

Because an individual’s strengths are mostly natural versus learned behaviours, candidates do not need to do a great deal to prepare for the strengths test. However, candidates should practice their numerical reasoning skills for one portion of this assessment. Also, EY provides very clear directions about the tests beforehand, so candidates should be sure to read them thoroughly before sitting the assessments.

A little bit extra

job application EY

A lot of people have completely different telephone personalities to their physical presence. What advice can you give for students about the telephone screening? 

Treat the telephone interview just like a face to face interview! Find a quiet place with no distractions (and a good phone signal) to hold the interview. Prep/research as you would for an in person interview. Speak clearly and not too quickly! Don’t be afraid to take time to think and structure your answers – your interviewer will be glad of the time to mark scores!

How large and who is in the audience for the assessment centre presentation? 

Assessment centres will have up to 18 candidates who will be observed and evaluated by EY professionals at various levels. Candidates will also have an opportunity to interview with and present to a more senior member of the firm in a one on one setting.

What questions should a student ask their interviewer?

Ask questions which will help gain a deep understanding of what he/she will be doing in the role they applied for, including where this role could lead them in the future. (As a caveat, candidates are expected to have done their research beforehand, so the questions should be beyond what you would find on our website!)

Do you view social media sites of the candidate during selection? What stops a senior manager or a partner viewing a candidate’s social media profile before an interview?

At EY, we do not view social media sites as part of our candidate selection process, nor would we make an offer decision based on a candidate’s information within social media.   We don’t have a mechanism in place to prevent an assessor or interviewer from viewing a candidate’s profile, but as stated above, we would not take this information into consideration in an offer decision.

With this in mind, an easy way to avoid any controversy with any potential employers, ensure you are comfortable with all public information available on your profile!

Feature image  В© Vladimir Kudinov via Unsplash
Post originally published on the Debut Insight section.

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