This week’s blog post is brought to you by the EY Schools Recruitment Officer, Harriet who shares some insight into the top five qualities she looks for when recruiting students.

As a member of the recruitment team at EY, I am often asked how candidates can stand out during the application process. When looking for high quality candidates to join the EY Scholarship programme, there are five key qualities that every potential scholar should show throughout the application process – don’t forget to illustrate these with examples.

1. Drive

At this stage in your school career, I imagine you will all be driven to excel in your studies to achieve the best grades you can. We look for this quality to be transferred over from your school life to your working life. Being able to focus on your goals and deliver them is an invaluable skill, and is one that will not only be essential whilst completing your EY placements as a scholar, but also whilst studying at university. Furthermore, being able to talk about why you drive yourself to achieving your goals will make you stand out in an interview. Think about a recent goal you had either at school, or perhaps during a weekend job or an extra-curricular activity. What was the goal you set for yourself? What steps did you take to complete this goal? Did you give yourself timeframes and/or deadlines? Did you come up against any challenges, and if so, how did you deal with them? Did you complete your goal in the time you had, and if not, what did you learn from the experience? In an interview, keep these questions in mind to formulate an example for your interviewer. If your answer consists of all the information above, you will be able to illustrate to your interview how you remain driven in difficult situations.

2. Commercial Awareness

As an EY employee, your role will be to provide exceptional client service. In doing so, you will need to be aware of the key headlines, not only for EY as a firm, but also our clients and their marketplace.  If you can have a solid understanding of what’s happening in the UK marketplace or in the financial services sector, you will be able to advise our clients on how to be more efficient, how to tackle risk in their sector and how to be more technologically savvy. When you are completing an application form or preparing for an interview, you could visit the EY newsroom to find out what our top stories have been over the past few months. Also, try and find a story about a project we have completed for a client that interests you, and ensure that you have researched the project to talk about in the interview. If you are able to passionately talk about why you are interested in EY and the Advisory service line, you will stand out from your fellow candidates.

A great place to start is the Financial Times – watch our video to find out how you can use this to stand out.

3. Strong Communication Skills

At EY, you will work with a variety of different types of people, whether it be within the firm and the different project teams, or the different clients you will get to meet in the financial services industry, telecommunications, real estate, media, and the public sector to name a few. Being able to confidently communicate with others, as well as adapting to your surroundings will prove invaluable during your EY journey. To showcase your communication skills, you will have the chance to take part in a group exercise as part of your assessment centre. Here, you will review information provided by your assessor and must discuss this information in your group to reach a common resolution. To ensure you are success in this group discussion, you should speak confidently and articulate your thoughts and ideas when possible. Be aware of the other members of your team and adapt your style to ensure everyone is included in the conversation – try to ask questions and summarise points so you are all in an agreement on the outcome of your topic before moving on to the next step of your task.

Watch our video to find out about other ways to perform well in our group exercise.

4. Attention to detail

Whether you are working for a small start-up, or a large multi-national corporation, it’s important that the work we complete for our clients is done so to a very high standard. Whether we are providing advice on taxation in different countries, checking the balance sheets, or recommending new software, even the smallest mistake can have a huge impact to our client and their customers. Therefore, we look for future employees who will thrive to produce excellent work and understand the importance of attention to detail. During the application process, this will be assessed in a written piece of work during the assessment centre. To complete the task to the best of your ability, ensure that you read the question fully and understand what is being asked of you. Furthermore, make sure you leave yourself enough time to complete all of the tasks asked of you – incomplete work may have an effect on your overall performance on the day.

5. Exceeding expectations

At EY we pride ourselves on providing exceptional client service. This sometimes means that we need to go above and beyond our daily duties to make sure our clients are impressed with the services we provide. This could be staying late one evening to complete a piece of work, to working in different cities and countries around the world to help our clients. We look for people who always think one step ahead, and in doing so will come up with creative and innovative ways to help our clients succeed. During the application process, you will have the chance to talk about how you exceed expectations during the interview process. Similarly to our first quality Drive, think of an example of when you went beyond the normal call of duty to provide a piece of work at school, or perhaps whilst at your weekend job or an extra-curricular activity? What was the task being asked of you? What were the normal actions you needed to take to complete this task? What were the extra steps you took to ensure the task was complete to a high standard? What did you learn from this experience? Would you do anything differently if you were asked to complete this task again? Answering these questions when giving your example in an interview will illustrate your strengths to an interviewer, and leave no doubt in their mind that you have the skills to produce excellent results for our clients.

Apply now
Applications to the EY Scholarship are now open and will close on 12 October 2014 – find out more about the programme here.

Contact Harriet
Harriet looks after recruitment for the EY Scholarship programme – you can tweet her at @HarrietLunneyEY