This week’s chat is with James Baker-Ray, currently on the Morrisons People Graduate scheme, who was representing Morrisons at the Graduate Jobs and Placements Fair last year.
Can you give us an idea of what Morrisons is looking for in in a strong candidate?
We know that our graduates are coming straight from University so we’re not going to say they need loads and loads of experience, but it looks good if they’ve got work experience from part-time jobs and other interests, but that’s not the be all and end all of our application process. We’re mainly recruiting people on attitude, so we would look for if they aligned to our company’s culture – we call them our 5 ways of working:
The first one would be customer first – our main business is retail so we’re looking for that customer orientation – did you go the extra mile? – that kind of thing.
The next one is teamwork: with 110,000 colleagues, you’re never going to be working on your own whichever department you’re in so we’re really looking for strong team players, a key skill that we want candidates to demonstrate at interview and on their CVs.
The third one is our freedom within the framework – that’s looking at whether people can use their own initiative. We are a big business with lots of different areas, so we want people to be able to come up with their own solutions and have that freedom within the framework to feel empowered to make any changes to improve the business themselves.
The fourth would be listening and responding, so being able to communicate properly is a big thing that we look for.
And the fifth one would an interest in controlling costs and removing waste – as I’ve mentioned before, we’re a massive organisation so if we’re spending a little bit just here and there it adds up massively, therefore we’re looking for people who know how to be efficient. can you get things done the quickest, cheapest or most efficient way? we’re looking for that kind of initiative.
As well as the five ways of working that we look for generally we’re looking for attitude so willingness, a person who can create a positive environment, that’s who we’re going for.
Have you got any general tips about what makes a stand-out application?
First impressions do count – are you tidy? are you presentable? that’ll be the first thing that I would say and then the next thing would be what I’ve just talked about: have you researched the company culture? Can you provide examples of when you have put customers first? When have you used your own initiative in previous roles or University assignments?
In the assessments for our graduate schemes we’re looking for teamwork – we’re looking for people that can communicate and bring quieter team members into the conversation – good leadership, not someone who will just boss everyone around.
Also learn about the company, have solid reasoning behind why you’re applying – a lot of people applying stumble on the question “Why do you want to work at Morrisons?” This helps make a good impression if you can show you fit the company’s culture.
You mentioned the Morrisons Assessment Centre, can you tell us a bit more about this?
First you will apply online and do an online assessment, if you pass this you be invited to an assessment day which involves a group task to assess how well you can collaborate with others, how well you can communicate and influence others. Then there’s analytical task and then a face-to-face interview.
Can you tell us about your career journey so far?
I did my degree in Psychology, but I didn’t want to go straight into the world of work so I did a bit of travelling in the ski season in France just to build up a bit of life experience. I applied for the People graduate scheme which is a two-year HR based scheme and I’ve been on that for just over a year. I’ve trained in store, I’m now training in Manufacturing and then I might go to Logistics or Head Office so it’s a really varied scheme. Although I’m in the People programme I get the opportunity to travel around the business which keeps it from getting boring and gives me a good insight to the whole company.
Did you find that the travel and work after you finished your degree helped in your application for Morrisons?
I was working in a hotel in France and the bar was my responsibility, and I used this experience to demonstrate that I could sell, I could manage waste and look after products. It also showed the face-to-face interaction that you need for this people-based role, so while it wasn’t direct experience. it did show that I had the first qualities needed for that career.
My advice would be if you don’t necessarily know what you want to do, there’s no point rushing into anything because you will be working for the rest of your life, so take all the opportunities to have fun while you can.