My First Assessment Centre Experience
Last week I ventured to London for my assessment centre for a summer internship at Kraft Heinz. I want to work in sales/ marketing so have gone down a different route to other Economics students who generally apply to investment banking and consulting internships (aka the Big Four). It was a fascinating day and I thought I’d share my experience seeing as it’s assessment centre season.
The trip to London was such an experience in itself as I rarely go to London. It was actually cheaper for me to go down the afternoon before the assessment centre day (£3.65 ticket from Leamington and the airbnb was only £15 compared to a peak ticket in the morning for £20) so I made a mini holiday out of it.
After my night in London, I arrived to their office in the shard just before 10am where I met the other 20 candidates. It’s so important to see them as your friends and teammates rather than competition as you’re being assessed throughout the day on how you work with others. It makes the whole experience a lot more enjoyable and it’s fascinating how different everyone’s stories are, despite aiming for the same goal. In-fact I’m meeting up with a friend I made on the day soon so it shows just how lovely everyone is! After a meet and greet, we did an informal case study between 11-12:30. We were told we weren’t being assessed on this case but they probably were as members of the Kraft Heinz team were listening to us and communicating with us. Whilst this was happening, we were individually called out for our interviews which only lasted 15 minutes.
The interview went so quick it felt like I’d only had time to answer a couple of questions; my friends who have been to other assessment centres had much longer interviews. Firstly, they told me I had 5 minutes to talk about my life story so I discussed why I study Economics and how this links with wanting to do an internship at Kraft Heinz, all my extra activities etc. This all led onto talking about behavioural economics (which I’m fascinated by) for the next 10 minutes, along with the relatively standard question "am I hardworking and why?". Everything I said was continuously being questioned but now when I look back, it was because they wanted to challenge and push me; I actually quite enjoyed this! I’d recommend aligning your competencies with theirs and be yourself! If it’s a job you’re excited and passionate about, you’ll shine at interview and come out having really enjoyed it! After this we had lunch and I’d hyped myself up thinking we’d have baked beans which I love but dissapointingly we just had mini posh sandwiches.
The final part of the day 1:30-4 went unbelievably fast but it was draining and hard. We were given a case study in groups of 4 and there were 2 assessors on our table who sat in silence. We had an hour to prepare a PowerPoint presentation based on a project where we were each assigned a role: marketing (which I focused on), finance, sales and operations. It was extremely difficult and we struggled to answer various of the questions. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it and got really into it as my role was to recommend the price point for the product we had to focus on, define the long-term strategy, and incorporate this into the group targets including market share in value, the contribution margin and availability of products. The maths was extremely difficult and we were unable to simultaneously achieve all of our targets. However, after the presentation we found out that they don’t intend people to successfully complete it; they want to see how well we cope under pressure and work together. In the presentation we had 5 minutes to present our findings and 5 minutes to answer questions. To be honest, I messed up completely on what I wanted to say and thought it’d cost me my place. Nevertheless, that night they called me offering me a place! They are testing you on many different aspects and understand everyone makes mistakes. They want someone who will be dedicated to the job and thoroughly enjoy the internship so don’t apply to places solely on the basis that you want an internship; apply if you feel like you will have an amazing time working there!
Another important lesson I gained is that we were told we will all get amazing jobs in the future no matter the outcome as getting to an assessment centre is such a huge achievement in itself. So if you aren’t successful, you’ll have had an amazing day and learnt a little more about what sort of job you want. I was rejected by the economic consulting firms I applied to but looking back I realise it was because I wouldn’t have fit in or enjoyed an internship in consulting. If it weren’t for these rejections, I wouldn’t have discovered what I want to do in the future and wouldn’t have landed my dream internship at Kraft Heinz. The assessment centre is also an excellent opportunity to learn whether you’d enjoy spending your summer there so enjoy the day as you’re also testing them!
Good luck to everyone with assessment centres and see you all soon 🙂 x