How to succeed in the gradireland National Student Challenge – by our winner

David Galbraith

David being interviewed at the gradireland National Student Challenge 2012.

David Galbraith was the winner of the gradireland National Student Challenge 2012 and the TARGETjobs Universities’ Brightest Business Brain 2011 (a similar contest run by our sister company in the UK). He has given us his tips and tactics on how to do well in the Challenge. Much of this advice is also relevant if you are taking part in an assessment centre for a graduate job, as the exercises – and the approach you should take to them – will be very similar.

David writes:

First the online part… Know what to expect. It’s probably a numerical, verbal and in-tray exercise. They are not similar to SHL or Kenexa tests. They are much quicker and much less complex. Last year’s didn’t require a calculator. Following on from this – if you are not confident about hitting the top 60 on the online tests, leave it as late as possible to enter. If you hit the top 60 early, you just raise the bar of what other competitors will need to get to beat you – which they will strive further than before to do.

At the event… don’t be ‘that guy’ trying to lead the group just to lead the group. Consider what you can do best to ensure your team reaches victory. Fill in the gaps. Allow people to do what they do best, and facilitate them in doing this. If someone is doing well as leader, let them get on with it and reassign your attention to the stuff that may come. I made this top priority, and in both Universities Brightest Business Brain and the gradireland National Student Challenge, the first, second and third placed in the competition were all from my group. I can’t say this was anything to do with me, but I like to think this attitude and ‘group culture’ gave breathing room in the group for everyone to flourish.

Remain calm in the exercises and show your working out. Voice your thought process. The judges are marking you on how you get to the end result and not what the end result actually is.

Finally – be nice. Get along with everyone. Include everyone in the exercises. I guarantee there will be quiet people in your group and most people will be celebrating this as it is one less person to compete against. You need to be the one facilitating their interaction and encouraging the best from them with the aim of successfully completing the task.

David Galbraith graduated in 2012 from Queen’s University Belfast. He blogs at

Entries are now open for the gradireland National Student Challenge 2013. The online stage of the Challenge runs until February 2013.

2 Comments on “How to succeed in the gradireland National Student Challenge – by our winner”

  1. C says:

    Will there be a Student challenge competition this year?

    • gradireland says:

      Hi Ciara,

      Yes, there is one for 2013, we should be announcing more details on it towards the end of the month.

      Keep an eye on for more details.



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