From the telephone interviews to the assessment centres, applying for a job can be a very lengthy process. The assessment centre is an incredibly crucial stage of your job application since this is where the company tests your workplace skills in person.
The style of the assessment centre can vary between each company, but there is a general trend of activities which will take place. You can expect a group task, interview, presentation, individual task and a potential series of tests.
The assessment centre begins from the minute you arrive at the door. It is important to arrive at least 10-15 minutes early to the day. This shows your future employer that you have good time management skills and are taking the assessment seriously. In terms of your appearance, your dress wear should reflect the same uniform code the company has. You would usually expect smart office wear, but if you are unsure, you can email the HR department and confirm what is appropriate. If in doubt, it is better to be over dressed than underdressed.
It is important to set a good impression as soon as you enter the office. Some companies ask their receptionists what they thought of the candidates so remember to be friendly to everyone you meet. If the staff see you interacting with their employees positively, it will demonstrate to them that you fit into their working environment and that is extremely important.
Most assessment centres now require a group task. This is a fantastic opportunity for you to stand out; you can show the company how well you work with others and also demonstrate a few key workplace skills. There is usually an exercise to complete which is related to the firm itself. It’s really important to remember not to focus too much on the task itself. You want to use this time to show off your skills, it doesn’t really matter if you complete the exercise or not.
With group exercises, it’s a good idea to make sure that everyone is included. The company will always pick up on you asking the quieter members their opinion, or making an effort to ensure their voice is heard. If being the leader comes naturally to you then show this aspect off. If it doesn’t, don’t worry at all! A company needs a variety of personalities to work so as long as you demonstrate your opinion, include everyone and don’t interrupt, the firm will definitely take notice of you.
The type of individual task you will get varies depending on the company, but a standard exercise offered by most companies is a case study for which you must answer a series of questions. The firm wants to see how you can cope under pressure and if your knowledge is up to the standard they desire. With individual tasks, it can seem difficult to manage your time and this is something the company will be looking out for. Make sure you keep an eye on the clock to ensure you have a go at everything.
It’s great if you can come up with some unique ideas for the company and also show off your background knowledge. They will be impressed if you’ve done prior research on their firm, so spend a few hours before your assessment centre finding out what you can. It’s also good to relate the task to the current market and anything going on in the news during that period. It shows you can put things into context and will definitely impress your assessors.
Presentations are increasingly becoming a popular assessment centre task. They are an effective way for the company to test your knowledge as well as your confidence in presenting to others. The format of the presentation will vary depending on the firm, sometimes you can do it in front of one or two employees, or sometimes in front of the other candidates too.
There is one key piece of advice for presentations; practice, practice, practice! The more research you have completed on the firm beforehand, the more confident you will feel in delivering your speech. The firm will be incredibly impressed if you are able to present with confidence, but it is also important to get your content right. If you are given the material before the day, make sure you go through it with anyone you can. Try and get feedback to improve before your assessment centre, it will make a huge difference!
Last minute advice
Reading through the job description just before you attend the assessment centre can be a big help. It will jog your memory on what exactly the company is looking for and you can then adapt your answers, etc. to these traits. Another last minute save is to take your CV with you on the day. You can then read through your CV and remind yourself what your biggest selling points are and why you are qualified for the job.
The most important thing to remember on the day of your assessment centre is to be yourself. You want to work in a company where you fit, so show them your personality and let the real you shine.
Written by Saffron Shergill at StudentJob. Studentjob.co.uk is a job portal specifically dedicated to the employment needs of students and graduates. To find an internship or placement, visit their website and sign up for free!