With so many candidates eyeing a handful of positions, companies with management training programmes (MTP) have designed multiple stages of assessments to help separate outstanding talent from duds.
There is no specific format; each company has its own unique process, types of assessment, and levels of selection. But be prepared to go on a rigorous ride from start to finish.
Here is a look at the typical stages of the MTP selection.
Like any other job application, it all starts with a physical or online application. This is your first chance to impress so make it count! Check – and double check – your cover letter and resume before posting or clicking send.
Your resume caught someone’s eye and you’ve been called up for a phone or virtual interview, or a first-cut evaluation. Expect some basic assessments to evaluate certain competencies like language, mathematical reasoning and possibly, IQ. There might even be a brief interview.
“Back in my day, we had to come to the office and do a test using pen and paper, mind you!” laughs Mark Teoh*, a former trainee. “Now, we just ask the candidates to log on and do the test online.”
This is where things get “interesting”. You are considered for a position. At this stage, the company is looking at your personality and compatibility with the culture and team while assessing your capabilities so put on your best game face!
This might be the stage before an offer is made, or it might be the beginning of several rounds of interviews. You could also be facing more than one interviewer, usually a HR personnel and the hiring manager. The panel interview – with representatives from various departments – is also becoming common.
It is quite common for MTP selections to include a type of group assessment. Shortlisted candidates are brought together to work on exercises and activities that will spotlight certain qualities and capabilities – or lack of – such as leadership, pro-activeness, analytical thinking, enthusiasm, performance under stress, time management, ability to work in teams, and so on.
The form of these sessions is not fixed. Some companies have a rather elaborate selection process that involves multiple assessments and various levels of shortlisting. Candidates have to work on group projects, make presentations, meet senior management members, and the like.
Each stage of the selection further refines the search, taking successful candidates closer to the few coveted positions while those who do not make it are shown the door. Think The Apprentice.
In the real world: How British American Tobacco Malaysia selects candidates for its renowned Global Management Trainee programme.
Send in a resume/CV online.
Attend interview with a manager from a chosen function and a member of the Human Resources team. Some reasoning tests might be required.
Participate in group and individual exercises designed to assess a candidate’s skills and suitability.
The inside story: Jen Shin*, an MTP trainee graduate from a multinational company, shares her experience.
“I started off with an interview with HR and representatives from various departments. It was actually quite enjoyable because they were friendly and informative. I was quite charmed by how nice and professional they were.
When I got through that round, I had to attend an all-day assessment in which the hopefuls had to work in teams to solve real-life business problems. We had to come up with strategies and solutions, present them a panel of staff – again from various departments within the company – then defend our ideas.
The bigger challenge really was working with the other candidates. You have to show you’re a team player yet stand out because essentially, you’re in competition with each other. I had a real show-off on my team who talked non-stop and contributed nothing!
When I passed this, I was invited back to yet another round of evaluation – a sort of networking event with more staff members, some of them graduates of the MTP. It was a casual event, more mingling than interviewing, but we knew all eyes were on us. We had to ‘perform’.
I only got offered a position in the programme after this stage. We started out with eight, but only three of us were finally hired.
The whole process was a great eye opener. It’s not easy working here. Everyone is a go-getter, confident, vocal, and full of ideas. Without going through every stage of the interview, I would not have fully understood what was expected of me. At every round, it was clear we had to impress, impress, impress. It’s a really thorough selection.”\
* Not the person’s real name.