Many graduate schemes or large employers who are hiring for multiple positions may have
assessment days, in which a large number of candidates are all invited at once in order to
see how they interact together. They are a great opportunity to showcase a range of your
skills all in one day and show potential employers your versatility.
Assessment days can be especially daunting as you may feel you have to compete
directly with other candidates, however you should remember you are being judged
against the employer’s criteria, not the other candidates and you should be working with
them to achieve the goals set.
Employers design their own assessment centres to test for skills and aptitudes that are right
for their own organisations, but they typically contain similar elements and exercises.
As well as interviews you could expect to do a combination of group work exercises,
presentations, aptitude and psychometric tests, in-tray/e-tray exercises, or case studies
linked to the job function. Employers will also give you the opportunity to find out more
about them and to meet with current employees. Below we will detail some of the important things to remember.
Be on your best behaviour
You may be assessed throughout your time at the centre from the moment you walk in to
when you leave, so the first step is to make sure you arrive on time. You should treat all the
candidates as if they are your co-workers, be pleasant and introduce yourself.
Group tasks are often the most difficult part of the assessment centres as to an extent
other candidates can affect how the group works. The main thing is to not be bossy but to
not be passive either. You need to be aware, flexible and responsive but don't attempt to
force your personality on the situation. Be yourself, but be aware that ultra-competitive
behaviour can easily come across as arrogance and if you are too shy to speak your
qualities won’t be assessed. You should also show the assessors that you are listening to
other candidates through your body language. A top tip here is to ask quieter members of
the group how they feel the task should be done, including them in the dialogue and
therefore directing the group in a positive way.
Prioritise your time
One of the most common failings at assessment centres is candidates failing to do
themselves justice because they run out of time in exercises. Many assessment centres will
involve digesting a brief and responding in some way such as delivering a presentation. It
is important to initially process the information quickly at an overview level by skim reading.
After this there is a chance to go back and study elements in more detail once you have
a feel for the overall challenge and what is required.
Relax and be yourself
In a situation where people are observing you in order to assess you, of course there is an
extent to which it is wise to keep your guard up and manage the impression you are
making. However, if this is taken to an extreme level what people see is someone who is
uptight, wary and they are likely to be frustrated because they just don't feel they are
seeing a real person. Therefore if you can relax sufficiently to let your personality shine
through and to let something of your unique individuality be seen the assessors are more 9 likely to warm to you.