How To Ace An Assessment Centre
The final stage of internship/graduate job applications is an assessment centre. This can sometimes consist of an interview as well, however some companies will require for you to pass the assessment centre first and then come in for a final interview. Assessment centres are definitely daunting if you’ve never attended one before, although don’t let this put you off! I’ve only attended 2 assessment centres and I’ve passed both, so practice is not essential.
Bear in mind that assessment centres will differ for various companies. As previously mentioned, I’ve only attended 2 (Mars Incorporated and PwC) and they were very different. Therefore, aim to be quite adaptive when attending an assessment centre. Things that will vary –
All day (9am-5pm)
Half a day (9am-1pm or 1pm-5pm)
1. – If you love writing essays then you will do great at these and have no stress. However, if English was never your best subject then do not panic. Try to stay focused on the piece of written work required and write within a format, so don’t simply write down whatever comes to your head. Therefore, use paragraphs, subheadings and bullet points where applicable. Also remember to include an introduction and conclusion!
2. – These typically seem easy because you’re literally just having a discussion with other candidates, but there are numerous small details that the assessors will pick up on. Firstly, make sure you’ve studied the required information and have notes ready for the discussion. This may include financials and numerical data, so have this ready so you’re ready to state it all when needed. Although what is more important is how you work within the team, so be sure to lead wherever you can but let other people talk. Don’t overpower the conversation and invite those who are being more quiet to talk, whereby you use their name and ask for their opinion. Also be an active listener by making eye contact with other candidates, give your feedback and ask relevant questions.
3. – These can range from being numerical tests, verbal tests, judgement tests and diagrammatic tests. Timing is a major factor for these as you most probably won’t be given a clear indicator of your time remaining, so use a watch or clock where you can and be conscious of time. Once in the test, aim to focus on correctly answering as many questions as you can opposed to simply guessing a ton. With regards to guessing, it is okay to guess any that you literally can’t answer or don’t have time to do towards the end of the test, but try to find out if negative marking is involved – if it is, then you’re better off leaving these questions blank instead of randomly guessing!
4. – These can be required as a pre-prepared presentation or you might be asked to do one on the day. It is perfectly fine to have information cards as assistance, although try to not read off of these or the slides – being engaged with the assessors and making eye contact will show your passion and understanding of the topic. Also, try to use colour and images to make your presentation even more engaging and stand out from other candidates.
5. – You may be asked to analyse a business case study and then present on it regarding a question or to make a recommendation. Even if you don’t study business or maths, then don’t worry! Use all the knowledge you have to try your best and use your strongest knowledge where applicable, as you’ll be most confident explaining this e.g. social media in the modern business world. In preparation, revise some basic business equations if you’re unsure of them to allow you to do some simple financial work e.g. revenue, profit, loss etc. Also, when presenting your analysis, follow a SWOT format – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats – to allow for a clear structure, alongside diagrams and charts. Again, try to make it engaging!
Those are some of the standard tasks you could be faced with on an assessment centre day, although this will vary for the company you’re applying for (specifically the industry) and the role you’re applying for. As mentioned before, an interview could also be included however I’ll write up my next blog post about tips for that! A general tip that I have for assessment centres is to be weary of how you present yourself – always present yourself as the ideal candidate even when you’re not being directly assessed. This includes when you’re having lunch, especially if you’re with the assessors, as you always want to present yourself as someone who they’d love to hire. Don’t be too pushy though!
If you feel like having a mock assessment centre would benefit you in terms of being familiar with the format and the types of tasks to expect, then there are opportunities on offer on My Advantage Warwick. If you go onto Events and select ‘Careers Workshops’, you’ll find a range of upcoming workshops focused on both assessment centres and interviews. Good luck for those of you have assessment centres coming up – feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comment below!