Dealing with assessment centres

Now a common reality for many graduate jobseekers, particularly those in finance, so let’s find out what’s involved.

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An assessment centre, which
typically lasts one or two days,
brings together a group of
candidates who undertake a series of
exercises and assessments.
The tests provide an opportunity
to demonstrate that you possess the
personal and technical skills for the
job. Every organisation will design its
own specific assessment centre. If
you identified its selection criteria for
your first interview, keep them in
mind throughout your time at the
centre. Every test, exercise and
interview will match you against
these criteria.

What the tasks involve

Group exercises can include
discussion groups, role-playing a
specific brief, leadership tasks and
job-related scenarios designed to test
your ability to handle the type of
tasks specific to the area you have
applied for. While promoting your
own cause, remember that you must
help the group to complete the task.
You may be required to give a
presentation, usually to a mixed
group of candidates and assessors.
Structure is important, as it will keep
your mind focussed and will help the
audience keep track. Use whatever
form of notes you feel comfortable
with, but avoid using a script. Don’t
hit your audience with too much
information. You may only have five
minutes, which is only enough time
to present four big ideas or messages.
Remember that your body language
can make a huge difference to your
presentation. Smiling will ease the
tension in your face, and make your
audience more comfortable.

Ability tests assess both general
and specific intelligence. General
ability tests ask you to use complex
information, in the form of words,
numbers and diagrams, to solve
problems using logical or lateral
thinking. Ability tests are most likely
to be numerical or verbal reasoning
tests, specific to the role you have
applied for.

Aptitude tests assess your ability
to learn something new. Employees
are increasingly expected to adapt
quickly to changes in the workplace,
so prove your ability to develop new
skills quickly.
During the recruitment process,
employers have a limited time-frame
in which to get to know you.
Personality tests give them an idea of
who you are, so be honest, and
remember there are no right or
wrong answers. A relaxed state will
make the experience much more
enjoyable for you and give your
assessors a more confident
impression of you.

The other candidates are rarely in
direct competition with you. You’re
being assessed against the
employer’s criteria, not against each
other. The assessors want to see that
you can work in a team. Alternate
between taking charge and taking a
back seat to show you can both take
initiative and follow orders.
Be yourself. Or rather, be your best
self. Remember though, if you have to
try make major personality changes
to fit in with an organisation, it’s
probably not for you.

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