IBM is one of the world’s largest IT and consulting services companies: from helping transform healthcare to improving customers’ shopping experiences, it’s what IBMers do. Their work and their people can be found in all sorts of interesting places. Mathematicians, coders, and web designers contribute to creativity in the kitchen (check out ‘cognitive cooking’ with IBM’s Chef Watson), rerouting traffic jams… even designing the next generation fan experience in sports stadiums around the world. It’s the kind of thing they’ve been doing for more than 100 years.

Interested in any of the above? Then you’re in luck – because applications are open for graduate roles in IBM’s business, consulting and technology teams. But what does it take to bag a graduate job there – and do you have what they’re looking for? Graduate Fog asks Jasmin Curzon, graduate at IBM, for the inside scoop…

How to get a graduate job at IBM

Graduate Fog: What sort of applicants are IBM most keen to hear from for their graduate positions?
Jasmin Curzon: The best and the brightest graduates from all universities, degree subjects, diverse backgrounds and abilities. Apple, Twitter, Facebook, Hootsuite, Box… These are just a few of the global partners who work with IBM to develop powerful mobile apps and help enterprises make smarter decisions with data analytics and cloud technology. IBM wants people that will make an impact, cultivate their expertise and collaborate with some of the world’s top business and technology professionals. So you need to be someone who thinks big and isn’t fazed by the scale of the challenges we work on. In fact, you need to be excited by those challenges.

Any must-haves?
The most successful people at IBM share a distinct set of characteristics. These begin with energy and creativity, along with a clear focus on delivering exceptional service to our clients. If you’re still studying, you’ll be working hard to achieve a 2:1 honours degree. If you’ve graduated, you’ll already have one. It’s also essential you have a genuine interest in the area of IBM you’re applying to. For most of IBM’s vacancies, it doesn’t matter which degree subject you’ve studied — that’s because the graduate training scheme can be tailored to your needs. IBM has no preference about which university you’ve studied at either. A strong applicant is a strong applicant, wherever they come from.

When and how should graduates apply?
All graduates looking to work for IBM must come through our two-year graduate scheme. Whether you’ve already graduated or are about to, you should register your interest on our website for all updates regarding graduates roles with IBM. Don’t leave it until the last minute before the deadline — remember that roles are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Jazmin Curzon

FAIR ACCESS: “A strong applicant is a strong applicant, wherever they come from,” Jasmin Curzon, graduate at IBM

What stages does IBM’s application process involve?
If your online application is successful, you’ll be asked to complete an online test which focuses on numerical problem solving. If that goes well, you’ll be invited to an assessment centre at one of our IBM locations. If you pass the assessment centre you will then be matched to a role. You will interview with the hiring manager for this particular role. At this stage you won’t be guaranteed an offer but the team will do their best to match you to the most suitable role.

Does IBM respond to all applications, whether successful or unsuccessful?
Yes. Every candidate who applies to IBM will receive a response to let them know whether they were successful or not. If you reach assessment centre stage you will also receive feedback on your performance if you ask for it. The team at IBM understands how important it is for graduates to be kept informed about progress with your application.

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GRADUATE FOG CLASSIC! This super-popular post was first published in July 2014 and has been updated recently for accuracy

Any tips for standing out at application stage?
Make sure you have thoroughly researched our company. The person reviewing your application will want to see your understanding of our values, initiatives and your interest in projects we are delivering to our clients, such as data analytics, social, cloud services and security at Wimbledon. During the online application stage you will be asked to answer competencies questions. Make sure you provide very specific competency examples. The assessor will want to know what you did, how you did it and what the result was. An excellent applicant will have demonstrated they have all the required competencies, with varied and detailed examples.

What wows IBM in a graduate interview?
A passion for our company, and a detailed understanding of what we do. The interviewer(s) will be particularly impressed if you can link your passion for one of our products or projects to something in your life which you are passionate about. That is someone who really stands out.

What’s more important — knowing the right answers or handling the questions well?
Handling of questions is key. If you don’t understand the question or you aren’t sure which example to give, just ask your interviewer for clarification. It is always okay to pause and think about your answer before speaking.


What is a great question for graduates to ask at the end of their interview?
If all of your questions have been answered during the interview, ask the interviewer about their career history and what they enjoy most about working at IBM. This is a great way to finish the interview with a better understanding of personal experiences within the company, while you also continue to build rapport with your interviewer.

Any tips for impressing at assessment centres?
Be assertive and confident. Make sure you contribute to discussions within the group and don’t be afraid to ask questions to your fellow team members for clarification. Remember you can’t be marked positively if you don’t say anything! This could be your one chance to demonstrate your skills in order to land yourself a job at IBM.

What have you heard is the most common mistake that graduates make when applying for a job at IBM?
Not completing the online application form correctly, particularly the competency question section. Candidates can sometimes give very vague answers and not give any detail of what they did in their example. Be specific and remember to sell yourself.

Where are IBM’s graduate jobs based, and how much do they pay?
The starting salary for graduate roles at IBM is from £30,000. We have offices around the UK, but IBM requires its graduates to be flexible in terms of exactly where they will work. As a lot of the work is client facing you may need to be based on a client site.

What is the best thing about having a graduate job at IBM?
When our current graduates were asked what words they felt accurately described working at IBM, there were three clear winners: innovative, friendly, flexible. You’ll find yourself working in friendly environment with talented colleagues. And given the size and scale of our business you’ll experience huge variety in the work that you’ll get involved with and you’ll work with a range of clients across all types of business. Over 300 graduates join us every year, so although IBM is a huge organisation, you’ll instantly be part of a community of like-minded individuals.


Click here to register your interest now!

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