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The Short Version

Regardless of your recent qualifications, John Lewis will not care if your past qualifications are not up to scratch.

If your GCSE's are below standard REGARDLESS of how long ago they were taken or any mitigating circumstances they will not consider your application. You have been warned.

I consider this especially important as the application process is by far the longest i have been through (approx. 3 hour's before you answer personal questions and submit your tailor written CV) and they will let you complete it even if they think you do not meet requirements.

My Story

Like many mature students I have returned to academia having not had a good time around my A-Levels and GCSE's. My GCSE's were taken almost 15 years ago and I got mostly B's and C's having been predicted straight A's (Quick summary here, I ended up living alone through my A-levels financial supporting myself following a family breakup).

After 7 years working, advancing to the position of Retail Operation Manager for a large international retailer, I decided it was time to come back to academia.

I completed my degree in 2012 achieving a high 2:1 (Hons.) and went on to complete a GDL, out of a general interest in the legal system more than a desire to practice.

So Degree and GDL in hand in late 2014 I started applying for jobs. I have now been through 4 assessment days all going very well and 3 job interviews which I am waiting to hear back from at the moment. However with my background in retail management I thought, 'Hey, why not try John Lewis? They are supposed to be an excellent employer'. As it turns out I couldn't have been more wrong in my dealings with this company.

The Application Process

Their application process is much like any other, you give your details and they will then ask you to complete some online assessments. There are actually 4 of these prior to you sending over your CV and answering personal questions. The first is just a general culture test to see if you would fit in taking perhaps 20 minutes, then you have the standard numeracy (45 mins + 15 mins practice question) Verbal (45 + 15 ) Management (45 + 15). This is probably the longest I have been through, having had applications with some risk management firms I am familiar with the tests however and most are 15 minutes each.

Finally on completing all of these you can submit your CV, which you will have tailor written, of course. You are asked a few personal questions on motivations, what you see as good customer service etc. and then you can finally cast your application off into the ether.

The Problem

And this is where i come to my problem with John Lewis, after waiting 4 weeks, a response comes back. In summary, my GCSE's are not up to scratch. OK. fair enough, they aren't. But wait a second these were taken over 15 years ago? Shouldn't my current qualifications override this? In short no. I have exchanged multiple emails with their graduate team and they will under no circumstance consider mitigating circumstance. God knows what happens if you come from overseas and have a non transferable higher education qualification prior to A-Level. But Apparently it would be unfair of them to consider any applications which do not meet the GCSE requirement.

I'm all for fair hiring policies, I have seen some pretty rubbish attitudes towards hiring in my time in work. But come-on John Lewis! This is not for the sake of fairness, this is because you are too lazy to read applications and want an arbitrary criterion to exclude some of the applications based on.

Well rant over, If you have stuck to reading this far, then I hope that if you are in a situation like mine you will not waste your time with John Lewis.

Wishing you all the best of luck with your job searches.


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