Assessment Days: A fun guide to surviving & thriving

22 November, 2016
Jasmine Sherman

Assessment Days: A fun guide to surviving & thriving

22 November, 2016
The dreaded Assessment Centre. You’re locked in a room with up to 30 nervous, sweaty, and caffeinated candidates, completely unaware of what’s about to hit you next, or even what your assessors are looking for! You’ve got to get through a round of group challenges without collapsing with exhaustion, before stepping up your A-game to smash those 1-2-1 interviews after lunch.

Fear not. We’ve put together a cheat sheet of pointers that will help you in tackling any situation that’s thrown at you.  Deep breath. Let’s begin...

General pointers:

  • Most Assessment Days follow the same structure – welcome and introductory presentations, group activities, and final one on one interviews.
  • Be yourself. Not everyone is a leader, not everyone is a note taker or a project manager (it doesn’t suit everyone on The Apprentice!); don’t pretend to be a type of person that just isn’t you – if you’re not feeling comfortable, it will show.
  • Saying that, you want to stand out for what you’re good at! So demonstrate your strengths and make sure they’re noticed.
  • Be confident in yourself. You deserve to be there.
  • Expect the unexpected – what do you do if something is thrown at you last minute?
  • The point of an Assessment Day is to assess you! This may be stating the obvious, but from the minute you arrive to the minute you leave, you’ll be observed.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions (when given the opportunity). It demonstrates interest, and if the questions are good, intelligence. You can take the answers given and use the information later on in your interviews, applying this knowledge to best demonstrate your suitability to the role.
  • Overall – think back to the company values and the role requirements, and make sure you’re demonstrating the competencies that are being looked for.

Group Exercises:

  • Group exercises are designed to test how you act in a team environment. Assessors will be looking to see what type of person you are, and how you interact with others. Do you assume the natural role of a leader? Do you bring everyone’s ideas together quietly but confidently? Do you respect others in the team? Do you contribute and evaluate other’s ideas? Are you listening to others, reiterating the brief when the team starts to stray?
  • In a group of 5, 10 or even 30, not everyone can be a leader – play to your strengths and demonstrate what you’re good at. Think back to the role and identify what competencies they might be looking to see, i.e. critical analysis, communication, teamwork, listening, adaptability.
  • As the pressure is piled on, how do you cope? If you’re close to your deadline with unfinished work, what do you do?
  • When you’re being given a brief, make sure you’re writing down notes that you can refer to – and keep refreshing yourself on the original brief.
  • Brush up in advance on your industry knowledge – chances are you’ll be set something that’s role specific, and relevant to the challenges that the business faces day in, day out.
  • Listen to others – although raising your voice is good, it’s not all about who shouts the loudest.

1-2-1 Interviews:

  • This is your opportunity to shine, one to one, with a hiring decision maker.
  • Do your research, know your experiences inside out, and identify your core competencies and skills.
  • Back up any claim with an example. If you’re asked if you have good attention to detail, or can work autonomously, don’t just say yes! When have you demonstrated this before?
  • Structure responses to questions before you speak. Know what you want to put across to the interviewer before you start talking, and don’t be afraid to ask for a minute to think before you answer.
  • Look at the requirements on the job description. You should be able to confidently articulate answers to all these questions
    • How and when have you demonstrated the listed skills and competencies?
    • Why is working in this role a great opportunity for you? What makes you stand out?
    • Why do you want to work for this company? What do you know about them?
    • How do you embody the values that the company will be looking for?
    • How do you best work with other people?
    • How will working at this company be of benefit to your future career?
  • Again, be yourselfDon’t feel intimidated, it’s a great opportunity to demonstrate why you’re right for the role, through your experiences, skills, and motivations.

That’s it. Simple, right?

Good luck…

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