Whitbread Interview Questions & Reviews
Getting an Interview
Finance Interview (Neutral Experience; Average Interview)
I applied online and the process took a day - interviewed at Whitbread in June 2014.
Interview Details Saw an ad on my university careers service and applied directly via Whitbread's website (which wasn't the smoothest or well laid-out recruitment website I've come across, but try not to press the back button and be very patient while the page and the boxes load). The online form was very simple, just needed to fill in some personal details, university grades and upload your CV. Nothing in the form of motivation questions.
Submitted the form in early February 2014, got an email in April inviting me to an online numerical and diagrammatic test. Compared with the Big 4 professional services firms and banks, the test was very very easy. Just to put things into perspective, I failed the numerical test for Deloitte but still got over 90% in both tests for Whitbread. However, I suspect that the deciding factor in hiring you is your CV and not how well you performed in the tests, as my more intelligent friend from the same uni applied but got rejected due to his lack of extra-curricular activities.
Found out I was successful 2 weeks later when HR called me and asked when I would be available for an AC (as most people would be having their June exams at uni). Found out the date 4 further weeks later via an email, which told me about the AC (no first interview for me, although I found out at the AC that other candidates had a first interview via telephone).
The AC process is as follows:
1. Arrive the day before at their Premier Inn hotel near their HQ in Luton. They provided overnight accommodation and breakfast (very generous of them and the candidates where also treated as if we were customers who have paid for the services). In the evening, there would be a drinks reception followed by a meal in the hotel restaurant to get to know the other candidates and the staff. Many high ranking people were in attendance as well as graduates who have just joined the firm. Great opportunity to find out more about their business operations and some trivial facts you may not know about. Make sure you know your CV inside out as ALL the staff seemed to know who I was and the things I said I had done on my CV (which was quite flattering as everyone took time to look over each candidate's background, so it seems like they are trying to find a long term employee who will be loyal to the firm and would fit in comfortably with the firm, rather than what most big city firms do: hire loads, give them the training they need and at the end, if the graduates don't like the firm, let them leave). A few had been working in the Big 4 and one had even been working at an investment bank, but because they didn't like working there, they chose to work for Whitbread so it seems like it treats its staff well.
2. AC started at 9pm. The day was organised by HR and the staff you met the night before will be assessing you.
3. Started with a presentation by the head of finance about Whitbread's past, present and future. Memorising this information won't really help you later on in the interview as it's mostly about yourself.
Then we were split into 2 groups (there were about 14-16 candidates in the AC, selected from 300+ applicants, we were told. Whitbread only runs 1 AC and 2014 was the first time Whitbread has offered a finance internship). My group had a group exercise, in which we had to outline the pros and cons of a project relating to one of the chains owned by Whitbread. After 20mins of discussion, we had to present these to the staff. Make sure you do some research on the economy relating to this industry. There was a Q&A session at the end.
4. Then we had an individual exercise where we were required to compare 3 projects and were given some data on projected income as well as the situation surrounding the options. The task was 45 mins long and we had the option of skipping part of lunch to complete it. We had to present our findings during the interview after lunch.
5. Tour of their HQ.
6. Lunch with the staff.
7. Interview: Most candidates had 1-1 interview, but I had 2 interviewers for some reason. Mostly based on my CV, as well as some standard interview questions like 'where will you be in 10 years time'.
8. Finished with re-testing the psychometric tests. The day ended at 4pm.
All in all, I'm very grateful that Whitbread had given a 1st year uni student like me to experience this process. It's the first time I've ever gone to an interview and the staff were very friendly and very approachable, and from the atmosphere in their offices it seems like a very nice company to work for. Sadly, I was rejected after the AC (was informed 3 days later) but like I said, I'm just grateful for the opportunity.
Interview Question – What will you be doing in the finance department as an intern? (my uni course is specifically designed for its students to work for an audit firm, so I had no exposure to what a finance department in a firm would do) Answer Question