Waitrose IT Graduates – Top Tips for the Assessment Centre

Enthusiasm, drive and passion for technology are key attributes that you need to join the John Lewis Partnership IT graduate scheme but how about technical experience?

Some of these questions may be on your mind as you think about your assessment centre –
Do I need a technical background to be on the IT Graduate Scheme?
My experiences are not IT-related but I have a passion for technology – will they be relevant?
How technical are the IT Graduates in Waitrose?

Even though I was aware that any degree discipline is considered, I entered my assessment centre wondering if I would be at a disadvantage as I didn’t have the traditional IT degree with years of technical IT experience behind me.  However, this didn’t hold me back!  I made it onto the scheme and so far, I have found that no question is too silly or ridiculous whether I’m talking to a Systems Developer, Infrastructure Engineer or anyone else that I’ve encountered in the Partnership.  Everyone has been so approachable and happy to help plus, any technical training required is provided by the Partnership to ensure that we receive a solid foundation in the various rotations that we do.  If you do have technical IT experience, this is excellent but if not, don’t let it trouble you.  Remember, it is all about you and your experiences and how you can demonstrate your potential as a future leader in the Partnership, so don’t be put off by your competition and how suitable you think they might be – you could be the one that they’re looking for!

There are four Waitrose IT graduates in the 2014 intake and we all have different backgrounds, levels of work experience and IT knowledge which has contributed to an interesting mix of ideas as well as different perspectives and points of view when working together.  Just to show you how diverse we are, below is a brief insight into who we are, why we applied and top tips for the assessment centre.

Here we are - from our Induction in Sept to our Christmas Party in Dec

From our Induction in September to our Christmas Party in December

Anna Hayman
Business and Accounting with International Study at University of Exeter

Why did you apply for the Partnership IT Graduate Scheme?
Given my limited experience in IT, I was looking for a scheme which would allow me to develop both technical and non-technical skills and complete rotations across a variety of departments. The Partnership scheme offered this and more.

What’s your top tip for the Assessment Centre?
Be prepared, be business-appropriate but most importantly, be yourself. As well as assessing your performance on the day, the team will be thinking about how you will perform day-to-day in the office and whether you will be a good match for the Partnership. Be genuine – don’t put on an act or tell the team what you think they want to hear.


Claire Sinker

Information Technology at University of Leeds

Why did you apply for the Partnership IT Graduate Scheme?
The Partnership combines my love for shopping, my knowledge of IT and my passion for farming. I applied for the Partnership IT Graduate Scheme as I wanted to be at the forefront of new and emerging technology, which are used to enhance the customer experience. Throughout my degree at the University of Leeds and during my 14 month Placement at Vauxhall Motors, I was able to see at first hand how the use of IT can completely change a business for the better. From these experiences I knew that I wanted to continue to be involved in the new and exciting technologies that are being continuously developed, which will ultimately change the future of shopping.

What’s your top tip for the Assessment Centre?
Take the time to get to know everyone at your assessment centre. This could be as simple as learning everyone’s names or remembering a small piece of information about each candidate on the day.


Elize Clark

Business and Management at Oxford Brookes University

Why did you apply for the Partnership IT Graduate Scheme?
I applied to the IT Graduate Scheme as I wanted to be a part of what the Partnership stands for.  I want to learn, challenge and be challenged whilst gaining experience not only on the IT Graduate Scheme, but across all parts of the business to understand how Technology affects and impacts all aspects of the Partnership.

What’s your top tip for the Assessment Centre?
The recruiters are looking to gauge your future leadership potential so research the John Lewis Partnership Leadership Behaviours and use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) technique to structure examples and align your experiences in advance – you’ll feel much more at ease if you’re prepared.


Hardeep Bahia

Computer Programming and Theoretical Maths at Coventry University

Why did you apply for the Partnership IT Graduate Scheme?
I have been passionate about IT almost my entire life, from an early age I helped my father build and maintain computers at home and his work. I am always following the latest trends in IT in the mainstream and beyond. I feel that with the reputation the Partnership possesses and the values that are apparent at its core would fit in well and aid in bringing value through my personal skills and IT to the business. Having spent many years in the retail sector thoroughly enjoying meeting new people on a daily basis, and expanding my own horizons, I feel that the time is right to merge that with my unrelenting passion for all forms if IT.

What’s your top tip for the Assessment Centre?
Go in with an open mind, its not a competition. The people who i felt were being super competitive at the assessment centres aren’t here today in my opinion.

Good luck for your upcoming assessment centres – if you have any questions, feel free to comment below.

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