Assessment centres and how to prepare for them
The term assessment centre can drive panic into even the hardiest of candidates but unless you want to limit your pool of potential employers – they can be difficult to avoid. For many corporate clients they are a mandatory part of process, so understanding how best to approach they can be vital.
- Firstly – they vary widely. Some employers use the term to mean a day when they are interviewing everyone for a particular job and the format may not be radically different from a standard interview and others use the term to cover a full day of varied assessments that might include a role play, an in-tray exercise, psychometric testing / profiling (link to blog to follow), an interview and a presentation (link to blog to follow). They will also vary dramatically according to the type and level of position for which you are being considered.
- Secondly – you are usually given a fair amount of information prior to the session. Sometimes you are asked to do testing or prepare a presentation in advance – sometimes that will happen on the day. You may well be given something unexpected or that you will struggle to complete in the allotted timeslot – this is as much to see how you keep focussed, prioritise and deal with being put on the spot as it is to do with how you complete the task. Sometimes a task is designed so you do run out of time – do you want to focus on quality, or do you rush to the end and make mistakes…? The better results are normally achieved by keeping a cool head and doing less – but getting it right.
- Thirdly – we know from our experience that the best way to succeed is to go in with a positive attitude and get stuck in. If you don’t feel happy with your performance in one task, try to put it behind you and focus on the next. Scoring will be across the whole day and you may well have done far better than you thought on any individual element.
- Fourthly – arrive in plenty of time, have a good night’s rest before and expect to come out shattered!