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Graduate career at Shell

The Times: Inside info: Shell: Erum Loan, the Shell recruitment manager for the UK, Ireland and Southern Europe, tells us what is needed if you want to get a graduate career with the oil giant away from the oilrigs and forecourts

Posted 18 Sept 04

What jobs might graduates be doing if they join Shell?

Graduates can begin their careers with Shell in a wide range of either technical or commercial jobs. On the technical side, it could be as a geologist, a production or field engineer. Graduates who join the commercial side of Shell could be market analysts, human resources specialists, coordinators or marketing advisers.

How many graduates are recruited each year?

UK university leavers are included in the recruitment for graduates in what Shell calls the Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia region. Naturally it is a large catchment area from which we recruit about 250 graduates annually.

Where would they be working – London, abroad?

They could be working in any location, but UK graduates are usually based in Britain for the first assignment, either in London, Manchester, Aberdeen or Cheshire.

How does the application process work?

The Shell graduate recruitment process is fairly straightforward and follows the same pattern as many other corporations.

Anyone interested in applying to Shell will need to fill out the Global Graduate Application Form on our jobs and careers website. The completed application form, along with the individual’s CV, is then reviewed by Shell’s human resources department.

If successful at this initial selection stage, they will be invited for an interview. The interview is either done face-to-face or by telephone if the applicant cannot make it to the interview location. If an applicant has done well in the interview he or she goes on to the final selection stage – the recruitment day, which takes place at an assessment centre in London or in The Hague in the Netherlands.

A whole day of assessments, activities and tests can sound a little daunting, but those who make it through to the recruitment day should bear in mind that it is not necessarily about being better than the other graduates there. It’s not a gladiatorial competition between graduates. If all the participants at the recruitment day are successful then we try to find suitable positions for all of them.

Following the recruitment day we invite individuals to a “Get To Know You” meeting with a relevant business manager and, if the meeting is successful, a formal offer is made.

How long does it take from initial application to being offered a position?

The application process can take anywhere from two to six months, so it is important to apply early.

What is expected of candidates in an interview?

The golden rules for answering interview questions are to speak clearly and confidently. Stay relaxed and don’t try to answer a question that you have not understood. No one minds if you ask for a bit of clarification. It’s also good if you can talk openly and with enthusiasm about your achievements. Don’t ramble on about something that isn’t relevant to the initial question or pretend to know something that you don’t – you won’t do yourself any favours.

Is looking smart for the interview important?

We’re not assessing your style of clothes, but you should be dressed for business, so for men, this usually means a suit and tie.

Who conducts the interviews?

A Shell assessor or trained business manager will conduct the interview.

What kind of questions can candidates expect to face?

A sample of the questions applicants could expect are:

Why have you applied to us?

What do you know of our business?

What qualities/skills do you have which make you suitable?

Tell me about your extra-curricular activities. Can you give an example of when you worked in a team/led a team?

Describe a time when you were under great pressure. How did you cope? What was the outcome?

If applicants have never been to an interview before and are unsure what to expect, how best can they prepare themselves?

Preparation is very important before an interview. Find out as much as possibly about the organisation. Take a look at our website and read company reports and case studies of employees. Take some time to recall your experiences and achievements (academic and non-academic) and how they could demonstrate your personal qualities and the challenges you faced.

Is the type of degree and classification received important? Do you look back to A-level results as well?

Applicants need to have a degree, but we don’t specify which subject it has to be in if they are joining the commercial side of the company. For a technical career, the applicant will need to have a technical degree.

Is it important for candidates to have demonstrated a broad range of activities outside university life?

They are certainly encouraged, but they are not essential for applying to work for us. We have found that such activities best enable candidates to demonstrate the skills that we look for throughout the selection process.

How does Shell look upon students who have taken gap years?

Gap years do not affect the recruitment process, but can be a useful source of experiences for candidates. and its also non-profit sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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