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Frequently Asked Questions

If there’s something you still want to know, take a look at the answers to our FAQs below:

How many graduates will we recruit this year?

We are taking on 20-25 graduates for the 2018 Programme.

Do I have to choose between Bus and Rail when I apply?

Our bus and rail schemes are very different so do some research to see which suits you best. They have separate application forms so apply for whichever one you feel you have a closer match to.

If I don't have exactly the right qualifications will I still be considered?

Unfortunately, we won't be able to accept your application unless you have or are expected to receive minimum qualifications required.
For Operations the minimum is 2:2 in any degree discipline.
For Engineering, the minimum requirement is 2:2 in Electrical, Electronic, Mechanical or Aerospace accredited by the IMechE or IET.
For Finance at least a 2:1 in Accounting, Finance, Economics, Business Administration or any other relevant university degree.

What happens after I apply

Once you have submitted your application as the first part of our selection process, you will undergo a further three stages. If successful at each stage, you should find out if you have a place on the programme you applied to by March 2018. To learn more about selection go to our 'What happens and when' page, where you’ll see an outline of the selection process.

Can I defer my start date?

We’re afraid this isn’t possible. Like all of our other graduates, you’ll need to be involved in our graduate induction, which takes place at the beginning of September. As well as a professional welcome to FirstGroup, you’ll get to meet senior managers and take part in valuable management modules that will help you throughout your graduate programme. Similarly, if you wanted to defer by a year we would not be able to accommodate that as every year our needs are different

What will I do on each placement?

All of your placements will be very different. In some you’ll get hands-on or be on the frontline. Other times, you may get involved with big projects. The duration and location of your placements will also vary – you could be at HQ, a station or in a depot. That’s the great thing. You’ll get to experience lots of different aspects of FirstGroup and our industry. Please see the programme tab for more detailed information.

Can I transfer from one scheme to another?

Unfortunately, once you’ve accepted an offer on a scheme, it’s not possible to transfer. The logistics of arranging placements, line managers and mentors is a lengthy one and involves a lot of work with various stakeholders.

Where will I work within FirstGroup?

Operations Management graduates - During the 2-year programme you will go on various rotations within our Bus or Rail teams to get a real flavour of our diverse business. This means you will need to be flexible with travel and relocation as you will need to move around to gain the most out of your placements. Placements usually last for around 8 months but can vary based upon the business needs.
Engineering Management graduates – As per operations, you’ll spend 2-years in Bus or Rail (whichever scheme you choose) joining one of our different Bus or Rail operating companies. This will involve spending time on rotations at various depots and sites to give you a good understanding of our business, projects and day-to-day delivery.
Finance - Management- During the 3-year programme you will go on various placements within our Bus and Rail Finance teams to get a real flavour of our diverse business. This means you will need to be flexible with travel and relocation as you will need to move around to gain the most out of your placements. We’ll also arrange for you to complete a placement in one of our US businesses if you show consistent high performance, exceed expectations in performance appraisals and there is a business need for you to go.

Will I be provided with a uniform?

No, you don’t need one. As a management trainee you should wear smart, business dress.

What equipment will I be provided with?

You’ll receive a laptop, mobile phone and relevant safety and other technical equipment required for you to complete your placements.

What job opportunities can I expect after I finish the programme?

It all depends on; the programme you have completed, our business needs and your skills and ambitions. However, our graduates typically start their careers in these areas:
Rail - Station Management, Contracts Management, Operations Management, Project Management, Train Planning, Train Crew Management or Finance Operations.
Bus - Service Delivery Management, Operations Management, Staff Management, Project Management, Depot Management, Engineering Workshop Management or Finance Operations.
Finance - The Finance programme will give graduates a good broad range of experience which will enable and facilitate the graduates to transition to other career directions and opportunities within FirstGroup - this could, for example, be in one of our 5 divisions, Group Finance, Internal Audit or Tax & Treasury.

Do I have to pay for my professional training?

No. We’re committed to supporting the professional development of all our people. So, we’re happy to fund any qualifications or training that will accelerate your career with us, as long as you show the commitment to delivering the expectations that will be set for your role.

I did not graduate recently - can I still apply?

We welcome applications from graduates of any age, as long as you meet the minimum qualification requirements for the scheme you’re applying for.

I’ve a disability - can I still apply?

We welcome applications from people with disabilities. And like many companies, we’ll ask you to pass a medical before starting the scheme, as for safety reasons we need to make sure you can carry out certain tasks depending upon your role in the business. . If you’ve colour restricted vision, you may also find that you won’t be able to progress to certain roles within the business.

How do I apply to the graduate scheme?

Simply click on the ‘apply’ button at the bottom of each vacancy listing and that will take you straight to the application form. You can read up on our recruitment process in our 'What happens and when' section of our graduate pages.

I don't have a National Insurance number - can I still apply?

Yes, you can submit your application. However, it is something we will ask from you later in our selection process as it is a requirement in order to start a role with us. Therefore, we advise you obtain one as soon as possible - visit for further details. If you have any queries regarding this or the deadline is close please contact us.

I have completed my video interview and not heard from you?

We endeavour to keep all our candidates informed of their progress at each stage of selection. However, due to the volumes of applications we do receive there may be occasions when we have large numbers of candidates to screen at any one point. As soon as we have, we will come back to you with the result. In the meantime please do feel free to contact us.

When are the Assessment Centres?

Assessment Centres for our 2018 graduate intake will be held in late February in Manchester (provisionally the week commencing Monday, 19th February). If you are successful in gaining a place at an assessment, we will send you all the information you require well in advance of the date.

When do you open your applications for Summer Internships?

If we are able to offer Summer Internships for 2018, we will commence advertising in the New Year via this website

Do you offer sponsorship if I do not have the relevant right to work in the UK?

Unfortunately, we are unable to offer sponsorship. You need the right to work in the UK to be able to apply to the programme.

When do applications close for the Graduate Programmes?

The deadline to submit your application for our September 2018 graduate intake is the 31st December 2017. However, as we receive a large volume of applications we would recommend you submit your application sooner in order to allow yourself sufficient time to progress through our process if successful.

What tests will I have to do as part of my application?

We use online testing for a variety of roles. Verbal, Numerical, Inductive or Deductive reasoning tests, depending on the scheme to which you are applying.

I am having problems with my online testing what do I do?

Please contact our assessment support team for help with any technical problems you may be experiencing with your online tests. They can be reached via telephone (0800 145 6506) or email ( For any other issues please contact the Graduate Team via our Facebook page or email us at

What should I do if I receive another offer before I complete my Assessment Centre?

As is it a very competitive market place, we would advise you to complete your selection process with companies you have applied to in order to maximise your available options. If our time frames do not work for you, we would request that you contact us before finalising any decision and inform us of your situation.

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