Assessment Centers are the final step in the usually arduous process of trying to secure a graduate job. So you have gone through an application, a telephone interview, psychometric tests online and passed them all…. and how are you rewarded? Well, most graduate recruiters then invite for a final full day’sgrilling of tests, exercises and presentations to find out if you are suitable to join the company.
Assessment Centers usually take the form of a number of exercises testing your intelligence, mental aptitude, how you work with other people and how you present yourself. We are going to look at some top tips for you to remember on the day, which will help you ace the assessment center!
Appearances do matter
This almost goes without saying but wear your Sunday Best! People can’t help but make judgments based on appearance and this is certainly true in the professional business environment. We’re not talking top hat and tails for gents and long dresses for the ladies but smart business attire will be perfect. Suits and ties for the gents and trouser suits or smart skirts for the ladies.
Do your homework
As the saying goes, if you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail. Nothing should come as a surprise at an assessment center. You will have been briefed on what the exercises are but if you haven’t been, don’t panic! There are loads of resources out there that can help you prep, such as Glassdoor or Wikijob. Make sure you are comfortable with what to expect from all the exercises and maybe practice them with your friends or family.
You are always on show
A lot of people don’t realize that during an assessment center, you are constantly on show to the recruiters. This means that they will watch you constantly (and not just in the formal assessments) so this means in the interim breaks between exercises, coffee breaks and lunch. You will often be sat with the other guys going through the assessment centers that day in a room when you are not taking part in assessments.
Just remember what you discuss with them in there, as any slip of the tongue could be picked up by the recruiters. They will be dipping in and out of the room all day. So don’t swear, don’t criticize certain universities or companies and be polite and courteous and don’t just talk about yourself – me, me, me won’t look good if a recruiter is observing!
You are not in competition with the other candidates
A lot of people seem to arrive at assessment centers with a chip on their shoulder about the other candidates they are up against that day.
Now, we are not suggesting you become best mates or Facebook buddies with the other guys applying for graduate jobs. However, it doesn’t hurt to introduce yourself to the other candidates and engage in some small talk. In fact, if you kick that off in front of the recruiters in the chill out room, it would be seen as a positive, showing you work well with others and are keen to get to know colleagues. Don’t sit across the table from them, eyeballing them and giving the other candidates the evils. And don’t boast about how wonderful your academic career has been to make them feel intimated. This will do you no favours.
At most assessment centers for big companies, there is a certain score threshold you need to hit to be considered for a job and the performance of your peers on the day is not crucial. Look after yourself and don’t stress out about how others are doing.
Make a positive impression and be remembered
You will go through the usual exercises of presentations, case studies, interviews, group exercises, possibly an in-tray exercise and psychometric tests…. But how do you leave a lasting impression, and for the right reasons? It could be the case that you don’t come across all the recruiters formally during the day. How will they know what you are all about when it comes to deciding who has a job?
The usual process is that after all the exercises are completed, the recruiters lock themselves away in a room and discuss each candidate in turn giving their thoughts and impressions. This is called the ‘wash up’. Now, the conversation isn’t always constrained to how Candidate A did in the presentation. Other factors are taken into account such as the small talk, confidence and how they interacted with others informally, as these are all key.
Therefore, if you can find a chance to introduce yourself to a recruiter on the day that you won’t have an exercise with, that will do no harm. Say hello, ask them what they do for the company etc.
A quick recap
Assessment centers have two elements to them – firstly, the formal exercises that you will be assessed against and secondly, the informal part – showcasing your confidence, how you get to know people, how you interact and engage with peers and your seniors. You won’t ever be briefed about the informal assessment angle but don’t underestimate the importance of the second part to assessment centers!
This is a guest post by Adam who runs the Graduate Career Tips website giving tips for grads on job interviews, job applications, CVs, professional development and loads more!