You are very excited as you have managed to get through to a Graduate Assessment Centre for an organisation you would really like to work for , but you are wondering how the assessment days’ work and how you can come out on top.
Assessment Centres can vary in content but the idea is to create an environment where you will work alongside other candidates to demonstrate key skills in the areas of teamwork, Leadership and Management, time management; problem solving and decision making, allowing a future employer to assess how you would fit into their organisation. Making yourself familiar with the process, doing some research and following a few simple rules will help you to prepare and give confidence on the day.
The day itself will be generally made up of a mix of any of the following, Group Exercises, Case Studies, In-tray/ e-tray or other practical exercises, presentations and interviews, not for getting that the social side of coffee breaks and lunch are also an opportunity to show off your networking skills
The Assessors on the day will probably have a list of attributes and competencies they may be looking for, if appropriate you could try to find out so that you have an idea of what you will be measured against. Think about your body language and listening skills throughout the day and manage your time. You will be required to read and process information in the tasks quickly, so picking out the key elements and focusing on these will help.
Group Excercises- Look to contribute but not dominate, listen but do not interrupt and make it an inclusive discussion drawing in quieter members of the group. Stay focused on the objectives of the task be diplomatic and be prepared to compromise if necessary. Put your point across in an assertive but not aggressive way and don’t switch off once you have had your say, remaining engaged throughout.
In tray or e-tray exercises – These are normally made up of all the things you are likely to find in your in tray or inbox and will demonstrate how you process information, prioritise workloads, make decision or act on urgent requests. Before you start read carefully what the task is asking you to do then read through items in the tray to establish which relevant bits you need to action. There is rarely a right or wrong answer to these it is more about the skills you bring to the task.
Presentations – You may be asked prior to the assessment centre to present on a certain subject or you may be given the opportunity to speak on a subject of your choice. Whichever it is keep it simple and something you feel comfortable with. Put structure to your presentation so it is easy to follow. Practice eye contact, smiling and alter the tone in your voice from time to time to accentuate different points to keep your audience engaged. Use visual aids to support you, but if using a power point don’t fill it with too much information, only use key points as it will help to keep your presentation on track. If using a flip chart don’t turn away from your audience and talk to it! Stand to the side, glancing at it when making reference to it. Keep to time and practice to help build your confidence.
Interviews – At some point during the day you may have an interview, make sure you are well prepared, have researched the organisation well and understand what the graduate programme entails so you can ask relevant questions.
Above all don’t worry if you feel nervous about attending an Assessment centre for the first time , just be prepared to engage fully in the day’s activities, present yourself in the best way possible and research as much as you can, this will all help build your confidence, be yourself and enjoy the experience!