BACK TO BASICS…Assessment Centres

You’re probably familiar with most parts of a graduate scheme recruitment process. Application forms, CVs and interviews are commonplace and you possibly have some experience of these if you’ve had a part-time job but you’ve maybe not experienced an assessment centre. Asessment centres feature in placement year and graduate scheme recruitment processes so in this blog we’re going to explore assessment centres in more detail.

What is an assessment centre? Assessment centres can be anything from half a day to two full days of activities, usually consisting of a mixture of individual and group tasks all aimed at assessing your skill set and suitability for a role. For some activities you might be given the chance to plan and prepare in advance (e.g. prepare a presentation) or you might be given the task on the day will no previous preparation time (e.g. a role specific case study).

Pre-covid you would have been invited to an employer’s office for an assessment centre however, with social distance measures in place, you will probably find that assessment centres are currently running as online events.

How to prepare for an assessment centre Cover and prepare for as many eventualities as you can, as the saying goes ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’…

  • Read all the information you get sent. If anything is unclear be sure to ask and clarify the information
  • Revisit your CV, application and the job description – which skills are most relevant to the job? These are likely to be the competencies you’ll be assessed on
  • If you have a task to prepare in advance give yourself plenty of time to work on this
  • Check your technology setup (laptop charged, camera working, required software installed etc)
  • Familiarise yourself with the company’s website, paying attention to the ‘about us’ section, their core values, business/corporate strategy etc. Do further reading and research on news articles, competitors and sector trends as background knowledge may prove useful
  • Choose your outfit the day before and consider the background others may see – even if you’re not face to face you still need to dress appropriately (smart casual) and portray a professional image

Hints & Tips

  • Try to relax. The employer has invited you because they think you have potential. Be yourself (on a very good day!) and let your abilities shine rather than letting nerves take over
  • Carefully read and double-check instructions – there’s nothing worse than diving in to an activity and finding you’ve gone down the wrong track
  • Within group activities try to share your views and include others in any discussions. For group activities there’s not always a right or wrong answer, there are usually multiple approaches and possible outcomes from the task. You’re more likely to be assessed on competencies within the task rather than the final decision/outcome. Working collaboratively will allow you to demonstrate key skills like team-work, communication, planning, problem solving, data analysis etc.
  • Is somebody in the team time-keeping? Does somebody need to take notes? You might be working within a limited time-scale and the assessor is unlikely to break the task down for you so be sure that as a group you check the clock and keep an eye on time
  • Assessors will be looking at your performance over the full event and probably scoring you across a matrix so don’t dwell on errors and stay focused throughout

Mock assessment centres Careers and Employability at Hope and some employers run mock assessment centres which give you the ideal opportunity to trial the experience and gain feedback. To check our latest event listing click here.

You might also find these links useful

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