“I always ask them, ‘why do you want to apply to IBM?’ because it’s easy to get started. But I like to ask them if they have any questions for me,” Jenny Taylor, graduate, head of learning and student program for IBM UK, told Insider. “That tells me a lot about what they thought of the company.”
Taylor joined IBM in 1985 and leads its early career recruitment in the UK. Over the years, she said she’s developed her own technique for spotting candidates’ interest in a position and in the company.
Many of the questions people often ask are pretty common, Taylor said. For example, terms and conditions, where they will work or what their role will entail. However, she said it was even more impressive when contestants asked her a question she couldn’t answer.
“The ones I like is when they read, so they quote something our CEO [Arvind Krishna] said strategically and then ask me what I think about it,” Taylor said.
“These questions are much more difficult to answer, but they are very good questions and show in-depth research.”
Taylor said she would often ask candidates probing questions, to determine the depth of their knowledge.
“They might say, ‘oh, well, I know, IBM is AI and cloud [computing] business’. So I might ask a probing question about AI and for a specific example of what IBM did,” Taylor said.
Likewise, if they say they like IBM’s ethos, or the fact that it’s a diverse company, can they point to anything specific they’ve read, adds Taylor.
IBM UK is currently hoping to recruit 150 interns and 150 apprentices as part of its next cohort. Applications for graduate positions will open in the fall, Taylor said.
This becomes clear during an interview when a candidate has read about a company, Taylor said.
“Do some research on the company because we definitely check that people apply to IBM because they know IBM and not because it’s just a company they may have heard of or they’re just going through a list of businesses, cutting and pasting the same app,” she said.