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About Sainbury's

Sainsbury's is the second largest chain of supermarkets in the UK. Their corporate branch recruits at many levels, from graduates and interns to experienced hires. This page reviews the recruitment process for Sainsbury's Central Leaders Graduate Scheme & Internship Programme, also known as the 2020 Leaders Programme. On this page you will find relevant PrepPacks™ for your application. Simply select the one you require and get practising!

Sainsbury’s Online Application

This stage is fairly straightforward as it includes filling out your background information and an obligatory personal details form:

  • Background information: General questions regarding education, work experience, among other things.
  • Personal details form: Standard form where you state your full name, address, phone number, etc.

This form also contains several fields where you are encouraged to give information supporting your application. These include positions of responsibility from prior jobs and your motivation for joining the programme. Note that these fields are where you want to give longer and more detailed answers to make a good first impression and stand out from the other candidates.

As this application form is the first impression you will make on Sainsbury's, please take into consideration the following tips to make the most out of it:

Tips for the Sainsbury's Application Form

  • Ensure your application is neatly organised and set out in a logical way that's easy to comprehend.
  • Keep a vivid picture in mind of the position you're applying for, and emphasise the skills you have that most closely match the job requirements.
  • Review your background thoroughly and mention any voluntary activity, charity work, extra-curricular activities, projects, and any other noteworthy accomplishments.
  • Go into detail about any experiences with people or customers that are relevant to the position you're applying for.
  • Sainsbury's puts a massive emphasis on customer service, teamwork, putting company interests before your own, corporate responsibility, social skills, and employee responsibility. Try to make these traits standout when attending an interview or filling out a personality questionnaire.

Sainsbury’s Aptitude Tests

There are numerous tests in this stage of the recruitment process. The three ability tests you will be taking are provided by SHL or by Saville and include verbal, numerical, and either inductive or abstract reasoning tests. In addition, you are required to take a personality questionnaire which is not timed.

Verbal Reasoning Test

Verbal reasoning tests, which can be incredibly difficult, are some of the most common tests applicants face when applying for a job. These tests require you to comprehend and analyse information from passages about various subject matter. This exercise has a 19-minute time limit and consists of 30 questions relating to 10 passages. Prepare yourself for the SHL verbal reasoning assessment or the Saville verbal test with JobTestPrep!

Numerical Reasoning Test

The CEB SHL and the Saville numerical reasoning tests can be a challenge. They require you to understand numerical data presented in tables and graphs and to use that information to answer multiple choice questions. This exercise has a 25-minute time limit and consists of 18 questions. 

Seeking to improve both your verbal skills as well as your numerical abilities? Our unique verbal-numerical bundle is exactly what you’re looking for!

Logical Reasoning Test

Logical reasoning tests evaluate cognitive abilities that are completely logic-based. Seeing as the abilities needed to successfully pass these tests are non-intuitive for most people, they are often regarded as particularly arduous. This exercise has a 25 minute time limit and consists of 24 questions. Check out JobTestPrep’s SHL-style logical reasoning practice tests or the Saville-style logical reasoning preparation tests.

Personality Questionnaire

This exercise is not timed, thus providing you with all the time you need to think about your answers in a calculated manner. Remember that this questionnaire is meant to gain an understanding of your preferred method of work and how you tackle different situations, hence it is in the company's interest as much as it is your own to answer honestly.

In this questionnaire, you will be presented with 104 blocks containing three statements each. Please visit our website for more information regarding personality questionnaires.


Gain the Skills Necessary to Prepare for Your Sainsbury's Tests

JobTestPrep's mission is to lead job applicants to the successful conclusion of their pre-employment process. Even if you see your test for the first time on your pre-employment assessment, you will know how to answer the questions as you will be up to date with the skills you need to pass the Sainsbury's tests. Our carefully selected resources will improve your skills, visual accuracy, and reasoning so well that you will pass your pre-employment assessment at the company with great success.


Sainsbury's Telephone Interview

After Sainsbury's has reviewed your application and has determined that you've done well enough on the tests, you will be invited to book a 30-minute competency based telephone interview, most likely with a member of the company's Human Resource division.

In this interview, the interviewer will put an emphasis on the skills required to be a successful worker in retail and attempt to determine whether or not you possess those skills.

In order to pass the interview, it is essential that you prepare for it. Familiarising yourself with the type of questions asked and getting to know the employer's ideology and vision, among other things, are key in making a good impression and setting yourself apart from the other candidates. Visit our website to excel your interview techniques with JobTestPrep!

Sainsbury’s Interview Sample Questions

Here are some of the questions you may encounter during the interview:

  • Have you ever worked under pressure? If so, when?
  • Do you have any experience in sales? Have you ever had to deal with a difficult customer?
  • Name a negative trait you possess. How do you deal with this trait?

Having to demonstrate your knowledge about Sainsbury's in particular and the retail world, in general, is also something you might come across. For example:

  • Who are Sainsbury's competitors? What are the major differences between Sainsbury's and the competition?
  • Sainsbury's operates with a conscious corporate responsibility. What does this mean and how is this being expressed in the company's everyday operations?

For answers to the common questions in competency-based interviews, please visit our dedicated page.

Here are some extra tips to take into consideration when preparing for the interview:

  • Know your application form inside and out so you can talk about it confidently.
  • Research the position you're applying for, and list the skills required. Review your own background and find examples that will show why you qualify for this specific position.
  • Conduct rigorous research about the retailer in every aspect (e.g. company values, competition, what are the products it offers, business structure etc.) to learn as much as possible about Sainsbury's from the internet, newspapers, business articles and any other medium you find relevant.
  • Prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewer. Note that not only does this show seriousness, it might also assess whether the position you're applying for, at Sainsbury's, is the correct choice for you.
  • It is better to take your time to answer questions fully and thoroughly. Try to avoid giving prompt answers as these responses tend to be emotional.
  • Speaking about yourself for an extended period of time can be exhausting and not intuitive for some. Consider practising speaking at length about yourself in front of friends or family.
  • Thoroughly review your own background before filling out any form or participating in any interviews. This is to ensure that the answers you provide display your experience in the most appealing way possible.

Please visit our website for more information regarding interviews and how to prepare for them.

Sainsbury’s Assessment Centre

The assessment centre stage is a much livelier segment in the recruitment process and gives you a chance to make your skills shine over the other candidates present. The activities in the assessment centre put a stronger emphasis on qualities such as leadership and presentation abilities, but you might also encounter cognitive tests, such as verbal or numerical reasoning. The Sainsbury’s assessment centre includes role-playing, a presentation, a group exercise, and an interview.

Role Play Exercise

The role-playing exercise involves placing candidates in a difficult work-related predicament to see how you approach the situation. One common role-playing exercise involves acting as a manager who has to notify a subordinate that he will not be promoted because his performance at work has plummeted. In a more complex exercise, you may be required to act as a Human Resources manager who is taking charge of a failing department. In this case, you need to analyse a vast amount of information to explain why the department's performance is underwhelming, and pitch short and long-term plans on how to improve performance. A good preparation for roleplay is training using our free situational judgement tests.

The desirable outcome of this particular exercise is to show that you can be understanding and can re-motivate the subordinate. In most role-playing exercises you are required to demonstrate qualities such as responsibility, leadership, and assertiveness. Does the sheer thought of role-playing make you nervous? Afraid you won’t have anything to say during your session? JobTestPrep is here to help!


As part of the assessment, you must make a 10-20 minute presentation, which you will be informed of ahead of time in order to have time to prepare. The presentation is delivered without PowerPoint and requires you to demonstrate your knowledge about Sainsbury's and its competition; therefore, it's a good idea to research the company well and put an emphasis on customer satisfaction. An example of common topics for the presentation is "methods to improve customer service" or "ideas to make the stores a place where people love to buy".

The presentation is followed by approximately 20 minutes of both competency and ability-based questions from the assessor; you can expect them to explore everything you have talked about (for example: what impact would your ideas have on the average Sainsbury's salary, and how will you justify these alterations to upper management). Therefore, having substantial knowledge about Sainsbury's in general and more specifically about your topic is essential. If you’re having trouble formulating your presentation, please visit our dedicated page.

Group Task

Another part of the assessment day is the group exercise in which you, along with several other candidates, will participate. The objective of the group task may vary, but in most cases, you are required to take part in a group discussion about a certain dilemma and have to reach a consensus about it. For example, you could be asked to analyse a large amount of data, such as cost and revenue, and decide what products to place in a promotion. Remember that you must work quickly in this exercise as you are only given a short amount of time.

Making a good impression in group tasks requires you to display a healthy amount of team working skills, open-mindedness, creativity, and dominance. Explore our group exercise page for more help.

Sainsbury’s Final Interview

The final interview with Sainsbury’s takes place either at the assessment centre or afterwards at one of their offices and is one hour long. The interview is conducted by one of the company's Business Directors so you can expect more position-focused questions. Review the job description beforehand and be ready with a few questions of your own, as this shows the interviewer you have done your research.

For more information regarding interviews and how to effectively train for them, please see our dedicated pages. Interviews can be stressful and nerve-racking and if you are looking for further help, take a look at our interview preparation pack to eliminate the fear and pass all three interviews!

In Summary

As you can see, the Sainsbury’s recruitment process is a long and tedious one in order to ensure that only the best applicants are accepted into the programme. Taking the time to develop the relevant skills to do well on the ability tests, ace the interviews, and pass your assessment day with flying colours is imperative to your success and eventual integration into the expanding Sainsbury’s family. Our Saville-style and CEB SHL-style tests help you do just that since "practice makes perfect". We sincerely hope that you’ve found this article helpful, and look forward to assisting you in any future endeavours.


Sainsbury's, CEB SHL, Saville, and other trademarks are the property of their respective trademark holders. None of the trademark holders is affiliated with JobTestPrep or this website.

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