Prepare for John Lewis and Waitrose Assessment Centre Exercises and Interviews

Once you have passed the online tests, the JLP recruitment process moves into interviews and assessment centres. Find out more about what these stages entail, and how to prepare for them on this page. 
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The John Lewis Partnership assessment process contains several types of interview, including video, telephone and face to face interviews as well as an assessment centre in some cases. We will go into more detail on all of these below.

John Lewis Partnership Interviews

There are a range of different interviews across the John Lewis Partnership interview process. All interviews are competency based, with emphasis placed on how well you demonstrate that you have the desired skills of a John Lewis employee.

There are three different types of interview, outlined below. Read on for advice on how to prepare for these interviews. The John Lewis Partnership telephone interview is scheduled to last just 15 to 20 minutes. This interview is competency based, with the interviewer looking to get a good basic knowledge of your skills. Prepare examples and common questions using the STAR method (situation, task, action, result).

The JLP video interview was first introduced in 2013 and is becoming more widely used. In this interview you have to record your answer to six pre-recorded questions. You can only record your answer once, and you have a time limit per question, so ensure you don’t ramble. The questions in this interview focus on your knowledge of the business and your suitability for the scheme you have applied to. Make sure that the technology works before the time you have set aside to record your interview, and practice giving your answers into a webcam.

JLP face to face interviews are a feature of almost all recruitment processes, in both assessment centres and as final interviews. These interviews are designed to assess your skills, and to allow your future managers to examine your fit for their teams.

Preparation for all the interviews is the same. Before you start, read up on the job description, department you are applying to and about the Partnership itself. Refresh your memory of the John Lewis competencies. Prepare examples from your previous experience to use to answer questions. Rehearse the STAR method for each answer. Prepare answers to questions such as the common questions below, or consider others, such as the sample questions in our free guide to interviews (PDF). In most interviews you will have the opportunity to ask questions, so don’t forget to prepare a couple of questions beforehand.

Once you have completed your preparation, the final stage is to rehearse giving over your answers in mock interview conditions. Our Skype based interviews can give you just that rehearsal that you need, with helpful feedback as an added bonus.

Some JLP interview questions include:

  • What is your knowledge of the company?
  • Tell me about a time when you have led a team.
  • Tell me about a time when you have helped someone achieve a personal goal.
  • What do you think is the single biggest factor that could adversely affect the business?
  • What qualities can you bring to John Lewis?
  • What’s the difference between a leader and a manager?
  • Some Waitrose specific questions asked to candidates include:
  • Why do want to work for a supermarket?
  • How do you interact with a team?
  • Do you like helping people?
  • Who are our main competitors?

John Lewis Assessment Centre

If you have impressed at the earlier stages, you will next move on to the JLP assessment centres. For some applicants this is the final stage of the recruitment process, others will still have interviews to come. The assessment centres are specific to the job or scheme you are applying to. The assessment centres are a mix of group and individual exercises including team activities and discussions, a presentation and an interview.

You can expect up to four group exercises designed to test leadership and group working. Whilst these are difficult to prepare for, it is worth taking time ahead of your assessment centre to consider the core values as well as some strategies for how you want to come across in the group.

Some examples of previous exercises include:

  • True/ false - given cards with statements to identify what is true or false.
  • Group discussion - you are given a brief to work out, discuss and come up with an action plan. An example is of an event held in store, and the best way to action it.
  • Store related tasks - for example visit a department and collect as much information as possible in ten minutes.
  • Rank a series of values from best to worst and why.
  • Sell a John Lewis item to the recruitment team.

Individual exercises include:

  • Interview - see above.
  • An exercise related to the scheme or job you have applied to, for example a written exercise, or a role play of how to deal with difficult customers.
  • Business presentation - at the assessment centre you are given six options and a short timeframe to prepare a ten minute presentation to give to assessors. You are expected to prepare materials using a flipchart and pens, and following the presentation you will be asked questions on what you have said. Gain tips on how to prepare and deliver an interview presentation on our site.

In Summary

The John Lewis Partnership is a top UK employer, incorporating John Lewis department stores, Waitrose supermarkets as well as other services. Regularly voted one of the best places to work, a great reputation as an employer, not to mention the unique Partnership structure allowing employees to “own” a part of the business, all lead to high levels of competition for each job at John Lewis and Waitrose. Prepare to be one of the best and get the job that you desire with our preparation resources, highlighted throughout this article.

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