Assessment Centres & Interviews
So, you've completed the application, passed the online tests, had the phone interview and now its time for the Assessment centre. What should you expect and how do they work? Here is a guide and some tips to help you be prepared.
What’s their Purpose?
Up until this point everything you've done has been either online or via the phone, you’ve not met them and they’ve not met you. Assessment centres are where you both get to learn more about each other. The day is likely to have a number of activities designed to test a range of skills required for the job, and for you to meet some of your possible future colleagues and have a look at the new environment you may enter.
Who will be there?
A group size of 6 - 10 candidates is common, there will then be an equivalent number of staff there so they can each monitor and grade an individual candidate. This method stops overly confident and loud candidates from dominating the assessors attention.
Large companies often run multiple assessment centres for the same job role if it is very popular. This means its possible the people in the room are not the only people you're competing against. Often you will informed if its not the only assessment day they're running. If they don’t say you are able to ask, but I would wait till later In the day as so not to seem overly competitive and to give them a chance to mention it.
How to Present Yourself
Having the ability to perform the role is only part of what’s required. Your ability to act professional, mature and smart are crucial to presenting yourself as the suitable all round candidate.
Key traits to focus on:
Rational and Logical thinking.
Teamwork & involving everyone in a discussion.
Confidence of your ability.
Understanding of the company’s Product or Services.
Red flags to avoid:
Talking over people
Being disrespectful to the other candidates
Being overly competitive
Lashing out if your idea gets criticised
Not joining in and being overly quiet.
Each Assessment Centre has activities tailored to the role you're applying for. However, they all fall into 3 main groups which Ive expanded on below.
Group tasks are arguably the most important activities you do and the ones which people mess up the most on (see above section). Your CV and attitude throughout the day can indicate how you will perform In other tasks but how you perform with others is still a mystery.
All jobs require collaboration, so it is an essential part of the days activities. The activities you do will be tailored to a key skill or requirement for the role you're applying for.
Examples of Group Tasks:
Solve a problem as a group and present back your findings.
Negotiate over a topic within pairs.
Prepare and present on a topic.
Take it in turns to lead a discussion.
Individual tasks are an opportunity to show your competency whilst under the pressure of the day. You may be asked to perform multiple individual tests, where one focuses on a core technical or creative part of the role and the other evaluates your Literacy / Numeracy or Psychometric skills.
This is often the activity which most people worry about before hand, but it doesn't have to be that way. The interviewer is not actively trying to trip you up, in fact they are trying to give you an opportunity to share information which makes you look better.
Normally the interview will last for around 30 minutes. The questions will be split into different sections; Your background / Past experience / Role and Company specific knowledge.
There are many ways to prepare and techniques to use, my personal favourite is the STAR technique. I find it allows me to correctly think and structure activities I've done in past to fit the topics of questions I'm likely to be asked about.
Here are some links which you may find helpful:
The STAR Technique - http://www.rightattitudes.com/2008/07/15/star-technique-answer-interview-questions/
Thank you for reading this post and indeed this series, I hope it has be useful to either yourself or someone you know.
If you have any questions, please reach out.