Aldi is an award-winning retailer with a lucrative and competitive graduate scheme for its area manager positions.
Before beginning your application to the Graduate Area Manager Programme with Aldi, we recommend taking some time to read through this article to understand exactly what’s involved in each stage of the process.
The first Aldi store opened in Germany in 1913, as a small grocery shop. The company has since expanded across Europe and now has 750 stores.
Aldi’s UK company has 10 regions, with a head office, regional distribution centre and managing director for each one.
The company has become well respected for its products, winning the Grocer magazine’s Grocer of the Year award in 2018.
Aldi’s industrial placements and Graduate Area Manager Programme are also highly regarded, winning awards from The Times (number three in Top 100 Graduate Employers), Rate My Placement (Top 100 Undergraduate Employers 2018–19) and the National Undergraduate Employability Awards (Top 100 Undergraduate Employers 2019).
Aldi has several schemes suitable for undergraduates and graduates, including industrial placements and the Graduate Area Manager Programme.
The Graduate Area Manager Programme recruits around 100 area managers annually.
This competitive, challenging programme lasts two years, with further development opportunities after year two.
Aldi points out that many of the company’s directors, including the current CEO, started as area managers.
In the first year, participants in Aldi’s graduate scheme rotate around different areas of the business to understand how the company works. This includes:
You will also receive mentoring from a senior member of staff, attend workshops by Aldi experts in areas such as HR, and have training in a regional office to learn about the financial side of the business.
In year two, members of the graduate programme will spend most of their time:
Aldi, along with several former candidates, notes that this scheme is physically and mentally demanding.
You may be required to work weekends and evenings, particularly during your time in the retail part of the business. You may also be required to work 60 to 70 hours per week.
The Aldi graduate training programme benefits are significant, making it a lucrative option for new graduates.
You’ll receive a £44,000 starting salary plus a fully financed Audi A4.
Alongside this, you get five weeks’ holiday each year plus bank holidays, a pension scheme, private healthcare and access to Aldi’s Health Cash Plan, which gives discounts on things like gym membership.
Because the benefits are some of the highest in the sector – comparable with entry positions in investment banking – the Aldi graduate application process is challenging and the requirements are high.
Aldi offers industrial placements for undergraduate students about to finish the second year of their degree.
This is a year-long intensive training in either general management, corporate buying, logistics, ecommerce or IT.
If you are an undergraduate student, getting onto an industrial placement year with Aldi can be an excellent way to learn about the company and receive a good salary.
It will also put you in a good position to apply for a permanent role or graduate position with the organisation after your third year.
During your industrial placement year with Aldi, you’ll receive a £25,000 salary and four weeks’ holiday.
You’ll need to be predicted a 2:1 to qualify for the scheme, have a driving licence and the right to work in the UK. For the general management placement, you will need access to a car.
Applications for the placements are open from 1st June to 30th April, but places often go quickly, so apply early.
Aldi mentions that it wants placement students to be brave, passionate and curious, interested in proving their worth, and able to handle intensive training and responsibility.
The application process for Aldi’s industrial placements is the same as the process for the Graduate Area Manager Programme, with your final interview conducted by the managing director of your chosen area.
Aldi also has apprenticeship programmes suitable for individuals without any previous qualifications, or those with GCSEs in maths or English at grade C or above (or the equivalent).
There are three apprenticeship routes – Stores, Logistics and Drivers – and at the end of the three years, candidates can start a role as a permanent staff member.
Aldi asks that all applicants to the Graduate Area Manager Programme have:
The company doesn’t require you to have business, retail or management experience, as training in this will be provided during your first year on the scheme.
Aldi trains its graduates in a specific way, so that the business operates as effectively and cohesively as possible. Due to this, Aldi maintains what it calls ‘quite a specific culture’.
To be in with a good chance of getting onto the graduate scheme, you should bear in mind that the organisation is looking for specific personality traits in its applicants.
Aldi is looking for candidates who are:
Unlike some other graduate schemes, Aldi recruits for the Area Manager Programme all year round. However, spaces are limited and tend to be filled very quickly, particularly in autumn when a new academic year starts.
Depending on the region to which you’re applying and demand for those positions, application windows for the programme will open and close at different times.
If you apply to the Aldi graduate scheme and you’re not successful, you must wait 12 months before applying again.
For these reasons, we recommend you practise each stage of the application process thoroughly, keep an eye on the Aldi website and apply for the scheme early – so you’re in with the best possible chance of securing a place on the programme.
As well as the qualifications and personality traits mentioned, Aldi will be looking for evidence of some further qualities which will be highlighted by the application process.
The role of area manager will require you to work with people from all different backgrounds, so Aldi is looking for candidates with excellent people management and leadership skills who are outgoing, confident and ambitious.
A motivated work ethic is important, as the graduate scheme can involve long hours and demanding work.
The organisation also wants to make sure you understand the role, the company and the market, so make sure to prepare for this by doing your research before the application process begins.
There are five stages you must complete if you want to join the Aldi graduate scheme or industrial placement programmes.
The first stage of the Graduate Area Manager Programme is an online application, which Aldi will use to assess your basic skills and qualifications.
You must first select the region you wish to apply to and the specific ‘route’ (if you are applying for an industrial placement). Then you add information about your educational history, jobs and any other experience.
Bear in mind applications for the graduate scheme are open all year round – but depending on the number of spaces and the competition, your chosen region may not be available. For this reason, we recommend you apply as early as possible.
Even if you provide a separate CV, make sure to answer each question on the online application in full; do not ask the reader to ‘refer to CV’ or a similar phrase.
Part of the selection process will be based on your ability to answer the specific questions on the application form concisely and effectively, so be sure to do this.
You may be asked questions about your motivation for applying to the graduate scheme. Think carefully before answering this question. Avoid mentioning benefits or salary.
Instead, concentrate on what you want to learn from working at Aldi – and what you believe you can bring to the organisation.
You may also be asked to write about your degree with a broad, open-ended question, such as ‘Provide details about your educational experience’. Where you can, link your degree experience to the attributes Aldi is looking for.
For example, explain how specific modules in your undergraduate course enhanced your ability to work under pressure, or how your extra-curricular activities developed your teamwork skills. This will help the assessors at Aldi understand how your experience makes you a good fit for the graduate scheme.
If you have retail, business, management or leadership experience, make sure to highlight this in your application. The role of area manager will require that you lead diverse groups of people in a fast-paced retail environment, so pointing out your existing skills in this area will show you’re an excellent candidate for the role.
The second stage of the application process for the Aldi graduate scheme is a series of online psychometric tests.
The psychometric tests are provided by Saville Consulting and may include numerical reasoning, logical reasoning and verbal reasoning tests.
Each of these tests helps Aldi to understand whether you have the appropriate skills it wants in its graduate area managers.
If you are successful, you’ll move through to the next stage of the Aldi graduate scheme application process. You will be invited to record and upload a five-minute-long video, called ‘Who am I?’.
In this video interview, Aldi is looking at your presentation skills, charisma and personality, as well as your motivations and ambitions.
In your role as area manager, you’ll be required to encourage teamwork from people with different backgrounds as well as getting them to fulfil challenging targets.
This video is a good way for Aldi to test whether you have the leadership and ‘people skills’ to do that, by evaluating how you present yourself and your ideas.
Because this is a video that you will record on your smartphone, you have the opportunity to practise before you submit the final version.
These tips may help:
If you are successful after the recruitment team at Aldi have assessed your video application, you will be invited to attend a group assessment day at the Aldi Academy in Bolton.
This will take around three to four hours, and will include 10 to 12 other candidates. You should note that Aldi does not pay expenses for you to attend the assessment day.
The assessment day will include:
Listen carefully during the introduction, making notes if appropriate. This will help you during the Q&A session at the end of the day.
As with any assessment centre, remember you are being evaluated from the moment you walk in to the moment you walk out.
Dress appropriately, pay attention and remember to show your best side, whether you’re talking to Aldi assessors or the other candidates.
On the assessment day, you will be asked to prepare a two-minute presentation on something personally interesting to you.
You will be given approximately three minutes to prepare and will then deliver the presentation to a senior Aldi representative. You may also be presenting to the other candidates, depending on the structure of the day.
While this can feel like a daunting and spontaneous task, you can prepare for it. Your pre-recorded video interview is a good way to get comfortable talking about yourself, so use those same techniques during your two-minute presentation.
Think carefully about what you’d like to talk about during your presentation. Although it should be interesting to you, it should also be relevant to the role you’re applying for, and showcase your skills and abilities.
Some of the things that might be a good choice to talk about are:
Take time to structure your interview presentation clearly, thinking about what you would like the assessors to remember about you.
Speak clearly and concisely – it’s better to say less than it is to take up too much time.
As with the video interview, having a strong ending is useful as it can make you more memorable to the assessors.
Next is a timed group exercise with other candidates.
This exercise will likely be focused on an imaginary high-pressure situation, such as going on an Arctic mission or surviving a plane crash. You will be presented with a list of items or asked to generate your own, then you will be asked to prioritise which items you will save or take with you.
These imagined situations are designed to test your ability to think under pressure. The prioritisation task is to see how you make difficult choices within a group setting.
The Aldi assessors are not necessarily looking for the ‘right’ answer but, rather, how you and your group decide on those answers.
The assessors will also be evaluating how you work in a team and your communication and listening skills, alongside your leadership qualities – whether you can delegate, manage time, consider other people’s opinions and make decisions.
At the end of the exercise, you may be asked to provide reasons for your choices. Be prepared to discuss your ideas openly and listen to feedback from the assessors and other candidates.
After the group exercise, you will be required to take verbal and numerical aptitude tests similar to the psychometric tests you completed during the second stage of the application process.
These tests contain problems that are at a GCSE level in maths and English. However, they are timed and you will have only a few minutes to complete each one.
Some previous applicants to the scheme have noted the Aldi assessors seem more interested in how you deal with taking the test than whether you get all the answers right.
The Graduate Area Manager Programme is a high-pressure scheme where you may be required to work to tight timescales and solve difficult problems. As such, these aptitude tests are a good way for the company to evaluate your ability to do that.
Try to remain calm when completing the tests, focus on each question and complete it to the best of your ability. Remember that this is only one part of the whole application process.
Finally, you and the other candidates will be asked to join a question-and-answer session with a senior Aldi staff member.
This is an excellent opportunity to ask questions that highlight your interest in the programme, and set you apart from other candidates.
Because Aldi is clear on the benefits of the area manager graduate scheme and the hours and effort that are required, we recommend not asking about these.
Instead, use the opportunity to ask more personal questions which show you understand the company and the retail environment. For example:
You could also ask questions which connect topical events or retail news with the company, by researching what’s happening nationally and globally before you attend the assessment day.
For example, you might like to ask how Brexit will affect how Aldi operates. Or how the company’s relationship with farmers in the EU and UK will change over the next few years.
For each question you ask, be prepared to answer it yourself – as you may be asked what your opinion is.
Thinking ahead and preparing some pertinent questions – and answers – before the assessment day will help you stand out.
The final stage in the application process is an interview with the regional managing director at the regional distribution centre to which you applied.
If you are successful in getting onto the Graduate Area Manager Programme, you’ll be working closely with the regional managing director. Therefore it’s important you make a good impression.
This one-to-one interview will last around thirty minutes and will focus on personal questions as well as those which demonstrate your competency.
Try and think of a few examples from your experience that showcase the skills Aldi is looking for: leadership, motivation, ambition and a strong work ethic.
You are likely to be asked some of the following questions:
There is likely to be quite a bit of time put aside for you to ask questions so prepare these in advance. You can use some of the questions you thought of for the assessment day as a starting point, and take inspiration from our article on good questions to ask your interviewer.
Remember to dress smartly and appropriately for this interview, as you want to make a good impression.
Our article on general interview tips has plenty of advice for helping you make the most of this final stage.
If you successfully complete all the stages of the Aldi graduate scheme process, you’ll be offered a place on the Graduate Area Manager Programme.
As Aldi recruits all year round, you may start working with them relatively soon after receiving your offer, depending on the area to which you have applied and the number of individuals who have submitted an application.
Due to the comprehensive benefits and training Aldi’s Graduate Area Manager Programme offers, the application process is rigorous and competition is high.
Aldi is most interested in ambitious, motivated individuals who can effectively lead a team and get stuck in, so keep this as your focus at each recruitment stage.
Take time to research the company, read through its graduate recruitment web pages, watch the case studies of former Graduate Area Manager Programme candidates and understand the business so you are prepared as possible for the application process.
We also recommend practising aptitude tests before you apply so you feel comfortable and confident completing them, even within a short time frame.
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