Assessment Centres – Taking a closer look !

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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!

Good Luck

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How Healthy Is Your Network?

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We all apparently know 250 people….. some of you may be responding “yes of course I do?” or “really I don’t even know 10!”. Well when it comes to networking it doesn’t really matter how many we do know it is how we manage the connections we do have. It is also important to continually manage your connections in a strategic way to keep your network current and alive.

When was the last time you sat down to take a strategic look at your current network to see if this is in area you need to do some work on. For most people it becomes important when they find themselves job hunting. Suddenly we start picking up the phone or sending emails to people we haven’t connected with for a very long time in the hope they might know of some suitable roles. This is far from ideal.

A high performer (job hunting or not) continually manages their network, keeps connected with everyone but in different ways and in different timeframes. The skilled networker is just as keen to help others grow their networks and put people in touch with each other as they are to make new connections themselves. There is nothing more rewarding than putting two people in touch with each other that can help both people achieve personal or work goals.

When you sit down to strategically review your network do you have any gaps? Do you have people who challenge your thinking, do you have people who you can go to who inspire you?, do you have people in your network who you can contact when things get really tough and you need some advice? Do you have people in your network who have an equally good network when you are looking to hire people or get specific expert advice on a subject?

What sort of person are you in other peoples network? Its a two way street networking when it works well…….