Join Careercake for an in-depth discussion in this video Before the assessment centre, part of How to Succeed at Assessment Centres.
- As I've mentioned, assessment centers or assessment days can be just basically full of activities, okay, so individual and group activities, things that companies can use to assess your suitability within that role and potentially within the type of team you'd be working in. Now, a lot of companies at larger companies, as well as smaller companies do use this and sometimes they will do a whole day sometimes they'll just do half a day. My first assessment center, I was 21 and it was a two day event actually and I had no idea what I was doing. There was no kind of resources like this on the internet back then and I was a little bit clueless to be honest, so I'm so excited to be doing this course today but basically, I think it's really been important that people know that it isn't just for graduates. A lot of people think that assessment centers are for graduate roles, but with the rise of apprenticeships and just basically, how competitive is out there and that war for talent and companies trying to find the best people and so many people applying for the same role, they're becoming more and more popular. In fact, the last assessment center that I worked on was about eight months ago and it was for very, very senior operations director role. So we had lots of people there that had 20, 30 years work experience that we're going forward for this assessment center. So expect to see a lot more of them. So I want to cover exactly now what you are going to expect. On the day they will be looking for your ability to listen, persuade and negotiate and influence others. Your team working, the problem solving and interpersonal skills, your ability to debate, to compromise and apply logic, your ability to provide reasoned responses to challenges your presentation skills and the ability for you to communicate with people at all different levels. It's really important and one of the first things I wanted to say in this course was at assessment centers you do not have to be the loudest person in the room, okay? That is not the objective. I just got to go in that room and make sure that everybody sees me and hears me. We've all watched episodes of the "Apprentice" I'm sure where you have somebody that's dominating the situation and thinks that, you know, I need to be seen as a leader so I've just got to shout to everybody and speak more than everybody else and that's not always what they're looking for. I promise you measured reasoned responses, the way that you interact, listen, bring other people out of themselves as well is what they're looking for. They want to see how effectively you work in a team so can you work and contribute towards the common goal? Are you considerate of others? How do you manage conflict and reactions? You will be involved in a number of situational based challenges. Can you apply lateral thinking to come up with practical solutions? And can you drive an idea forward? Now, recruiters are going to be looking for people with leadership skills. They don't know where you're going to be in five to 10 year maybe within the company doing something a little bit different, it's very, very exciting. They want somebody that's going to, of course operate well within the role they're recruiting for, but also develop themselves and have the ability to develop at this as well and add real value to their existing team members. So that's going to be something they are going to be looking at. I just want to say as well, that you will be assessed all the way throughout the day not just when you're doing your activities. I remember my first assessment center, there was a lot of people around the room and I just thought they were, you know, people from the company that just come along for a bit of a jolly, to be honest, because I didn't really know what was going on back then, but he was there to monitor one individual. One person had one person to watch and make notes about all day long and I didn't know that at the time but yeah, so just make sure that you do not take your eye off the ball. How will you be assessed? Well expect to have some or all of the following; work simulations, group exercises, psychometric and behavioral tasks, social interaction, a presentation, and either a one on one or a panel or group interview. Now I've talked to you about what to expect and that's great but how do you prepare for those things? You can be quite daunting going into these situations a little bit scary, a little bit nervous and I not want you to feel like that. I want you to feel empowered, confident, and excited so we're going to talk about how to prepare, I'm going to cover all of the areas. So the first thing that you need to do is start thinking about the personal branding element to this recruitment process. What are you selling, okay? So hopefully, you've got a good idea of what your strengths are, what you're not so good at and things that you really, really want to promote. How do you behave in certain situations? So when you're really excited, how you behave? When you're really excited nervous how you behave? When there's a conflict situation going on around you how do you behave? Take some real time understand who you are and what value you can add to the company and a great way of doing that is to just go straight back to the job description. Go back to those few weeks ago or those few months ago, when you applied for the role, have a look at what they are looking for. They'll tell you, you know, we're looking for person that does this, the key attributes we need are and then just reconcile those things again with what you said about yourself. When you were selling yourself application form when you were selling yourself in that cover letter, in that CV and just remind yourself of the three to four things that you're bringing to the table. The three or four things that you are awesome at and that you know you can add real value with okay? And really take some time to understand what you're going to market. We've covered personal brands in previous courses, and in a lot of detail, especially interviews and CVs but I want to just go through it again. Now I haven't watched those courses. So what are you good at? What do you like doing? What do you enjoy? Where do you thrive? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What motivates you? What gets you excited? What makes you happy? What three words do you want people to describe you as if you were not in the room? Now you spent some time looking at yourself, which can be quite difficult thing to do but you really have to have a good understanding of what you're bringing to the table, what value are you adding. But now you have to research them and please do not think that just looking at their website is enough, all right, that's what 90% of the population are going to do. We're not going to be like that. We are going to win in this situation and the only way that we can win is if we perform better than our competitors all those other people in the room, okay? I want you to make sure that you're not just looking at their website and of course you need to do that but don't just rely on that. Don't just walk up at the day and just regurgitate their website. What do you know about our business? Oh, well you started in 1952, you've got five offices. Don't tell them about their business they know about their business, they work there, okay and all you're doing is proving that you can read a website. No, no, no, we're going to get a lot more sophisticated. I want you to research their competitors. I want you to find the three main competitors and research those companies, as much as you would research the people you're interviewing with, okay? Because the moment you research their competitors you add a massive level of commercial acumen to the table. You're bringing something else to the room when you're having conversations with people over, over coffee and that's when the magic happens, okay not when you're just doing the activities. When you're queuing for the toilets or you're walking down a corridor or you know, you're grabbing that biscuit or that cup of coffee, you're engaging with people you're opening up conversations with the people that work there. You become an expert within the industry that's what I want you to be. I want you to be an industry expert because if you know what's going on in the marketplace then you'll be able to have really commercial sophisticated intelligent business conversations with them and leave such a massive, massive impression. So yeah, research their competitors are they're going into markets that these guys aren't? Are they launching products that these guys aren't? Or maybe they have, and it didn't work out. What's going on in the industry? Have a look at industry blogs, industry subscribe to as many different industry expert blogs as you can, by the way or magazines and follow people on social media and really get hot on that stuff, okay? But I also want you to research the individuals so behind the company, because it's the people that make the company, like the company is just the logo. The company just a name and you're not going to get hired by a logo you're going to get hired by human beings so find out what the founders are, who the founders are sorry. Where did they go to university? Did they go to university? Why did they set up the business? What's been the structure? How fast have they grown? Who were the key influencers? Who's going to be there on the day? And then if you can research these people and I didn't follow them on social media connect with them on LinkedIn, Twitter find out what they're doing and then when you do meet them on the day you can say something like, oh, I connected with you on I follow you on LinkedIn and remember, you don't need to be connected to them on LinkedIn to follow them or I follow you on Twitter or I was hoping that you'd be here today I was looking forward to meeting you. Just make people feel, seen, heard and valued and more important you make these people feel like you really want to be in the room you haven't just applied for 10 jobs and you just thankful that you got accepted onto one assessment day, you want to be in that room and in this moment, they are the only company that you really, really want to work for because if you want people to be genuinely interested in you and you want people to think that you're special you have to make them feel like that first. So do so much research and just yeah, up your game and do what the other guys are not going to do. Work out the logistics. Now, this sounds really, really obvious and I don't just think what I'm going to just go to sleep for the next three minutes and what's she talking about? Why is Amy telling me to work out the logistics? But I wouldn't be doing my job properly if I didn't mention this because it's a very, very good chance this assessment center or this assessment day or two days, in my case is going to be in a city that you are not living in. They often run assessment centers that might be in their head's office. So I was living in Cardiff and the company that I had to go for the assessment center was in Redding because that's where their heads office was and I'd never been to Redding before I didn't know my way around, so that might happen. The last thing I want for you to do on that day is to get stressed out about anything that you don't need to get stressed about. Okay, there's enough going on. So make sure you research all of the transport links, you know exactly where you're going you know the city and if you do have to get a hotel, try and get one close to it you know all really, really obvious stuff and I'm sorry for bringing it up but like I said, I had to just mention it because you know, I'm going to tell you to do a lot of things in this course and you might not have the time to do this but it's so, so, so important, just as important as everything else I'm saying. We don't want to fall short and you'd be late and, you know, run somewhere and you're covered in sweat because you've been running three miles because you didn't know where you were going or getting lost and then that kind of ruins everything that you've prepared. So make sure you plan your logistics and you know exactly where you are going. We want you dress appropriately, of course but I also want you to feel comfortable. So a lot of people think the assessment centers because they're a little bit more, maybe a relaxed environment, you know, you might be building a car with boxes or, you know, all kinds of random stuff that you could just wear casuals, but that's not always the case. Research, okay, so research what's the industry like obviously if you're going for a tech company or are you going for quite a modern kind of relaxed company you don't want to rock up in a suit. You'd look fabulous I'm sure, but you might feel a little bit uncomfortable if you're wearing a suit and everybody else's a little bit casual but then vice versa. I remember like I said, I'm talking again but when I went for my first assessment Center it was a real big corporate company and I walked up in a cardigan and everybody else had suits on and I just had nice dress on, but a little cardigan and I just, it doesn't sound like a big deal, but it just threw me all day and I just felt instantly inferior and that affected my mental attitude and the way that I was behaving. So just make sure that you ask them what's the dress code and if buy new outfit if you have to, but you want to walk into that room feeling fabulous because what goes on in here is going to affect what comes out of here. So make sure that you wear something that you feel great you're going to fit in and it's going to really impact everything else, believe me, it will everything else you do that day. Now, the first thing that you're going to be asked at some point is, tell me about yourself, okay and we prepare all of the strengths and we prepare our weaknesses and we prep, you know, what kind of value will you add to the company over the next five years? But do we prepare that elevator pitch? And it's often going to be the first thing that you're going to be asked to talk about. So make sure that you get this absolutely 100% clear in your mind so that no matter how nervous you are, those words will just roll off your tongue, okay? So we want a 60 second elevator pitch and if you haven't already got one, this is where you start. Who you are, obviously your name, what do you do and then the value of what you do, okay? Because you know, everybody knows you're going to be marketing manager or a finance graduate or whatever we want you to talk about the value. Nobody buys the what, they buy the value of the what, okay? So you might say I'm a marketing manager, great. I help companies engage and build relationships with their customers, which ultimately makes them more profitable, okay? Now that's the value. So really hone in the value in one sentence and then I want you to talk about what audience, so what sectors you're really, really passionate about. So maybe it's within telecoms or maybe it's within finance, maybe it's within charities, whatever, and make sure that it matches where you are. If you're at telecoms, you know, obviously systems and you don't want to be saying, I do this within the charity sector. We want to make them feel seen, heard, and valued, okay? So we want them to be really, really relevant but then I want you to talk about why you do it, okay? Because everybody knows kind of what you do because that's been on your CV and your application form and all that kind of stuff. What's going to make you really stand out is why you do what you do, okay? Do you have the same values as people in the room? Do you have the same motivators? So yeah, what you do and why you do what you do, why do you want to work in finance and not in marketing? Why do you want to be a teacher and not, you know, a pilot? How does it make you feel? What is it about your job that you absolutely love? So what you do, who you serve the value of what you do and why you do what you do? Practice, practice, practice, okay? Keep it to around 60 seconds, we don't want to bore anyone or send anyone to sleep short, sharp, snappy, and an elevator pitch again is just an introduction. They can ask you lots of questions and get into a 20 minute conversation around that if they want to but this is just the main stuff and it might be that when you get there, you get asked to stand up and talk about yourself, okay? It might be that you're just queuing up for a cup of coffee and a director comes over and says, oh hi, I saw your presentation earlier. So you want to be able to just exactly explain and clearly and passionately and confidently who you are and then at the end of your elevator pitch, I want you to say how excited you are about being in the room, okay? So always end it on a, and I'm really excited to be here today. Presentations, very good chance you're going to be asked to do a presentation. Now I've worked on assessment activities where we have given people the presentation topic beforehand, but nine times out of 10, we don't. We've just given them the presentation topic on the day because that's seeing how they deal with it there and then maybe, you know, go we've you've got 30 minutes prepare a presentation on this topic is part of the assessment, but what can you do to prepare? Well we're going to go into presentations in a lot more detail when we get to that chapter but at this stage, what I would love you to do is to just go away and have a look at any old presentations that you've got, okay? So maybe it was something you did at uni maybe it was something you did in your previous role and just practice delivering content to as many people as you can because what we, how we deliver something so it's just as important as what we say and in fact it affects the interaction in the room it affects how we deliver stuff, how confident we, you know, we feel how we make our audience feel to get really, really confident with that. Maybe film yourself as many friends and family and just deliver content and practice that over and over again to get really, really comfortable. So like I said, they you can't always prepare what the presentation will be, but that you can prepare and then when you get there on the day, you're just that little bit that step ahead. You can prepare standard interview questions. They will be an interview on this day I can promise you that they will be either a group interview or an individual interview. So make sure that you find out, you know, what kind of common interview questions how would I answer them? Strengths, weaknesses, but we will cover that in the interview section of this course. Also the activities, okay? So the psychometric tasks, the behavioral tasks. You can't always practice these, that's the whole point of them. That's the point of tests like this is that they are there to monitor how you deal with things there and then they don't want you to prepare. That's not the purpose of it. So they want to test your intelligence and your skills and your behaviors and your personality traits, all of those things on the day. However, there are some websites that can get you really comfortable with the types of activities that you will probably see on the day. So here are some websites that have a little look at. We've checked these websites at ourselves and we think they're really helpful. So have a look.
This course was created by Careercake, the careers content platform. We are pleased to host this training in our library.
- Making a good first impression
- Work simulations
- Role plays
- Acing the interview
- Following up after the assessment