Wellbeing & Support

Have you been invited to an assessment centre? If you’re anything I was, you might be feeling a bit apprehensive and wondering what actually happens…

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Panic not however! I’m writing this post to give you some first-hand insight, reassure you and possibly settle the nerves. It really isn’t as bad as it seems. In fact, in most cases, the assessment centre is not necessarily ‘testing’ your skills- the assessors are looking to gain an insight into your personality and fit for a team.

The golden rule to remember: you are being assessed from the moment you walk through the door. Even when you’re eating your lunch.

I passed my graduate consultant assessment centre back in November for a large technology company. Although many firms are different, my research informs me that the general format for the day is very similar. So what can you expect? Here’s the outline for the day I attended:

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8.30am: Arrive and meet the other candidates in reception

8.45am: Taken to a ‘holding room’ which would become our hub for the day.

Two guys on the current graduate scheme sat in the room the whole time

9.00am: Introduction to the day by HR

9.30am: Grouped into 7’s and taken into a room for the ‘logic’ group exercise. Three assessors sat on the outside of the group table, taking notes

10.15am: Taken back to the holding room and tea and coffee was served

11.00am: New room, new assessors for the second group exercise- ‘create a group presentation’

11.45am: Back to the holding room to wait on all groups to finish and HR and assessors to meet. Interestingly, the two graduate scheme guys were called out of the room also

1.00pm: The candidates selected were taken out of the room (including me) and given lunch. The unsuccessful candidates were sent home

1.30pm- 4.00pm: Two competency-based interviews with business managers

Advice: Did you notice how much time is spent with the other candidates and within the holding room? I (and advice pages online) believe that to be deliberate. What better way to assess whether or not you will work well in a team than to place you in an unknown environment and see how you interact with people. I made sure that I chatted to the grad scheme guys as much as possible and with the candidates around me.

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So the group exercises…

Engage, interact and be enthusiastic! Above all else- ooze confidence. There are two things to remember here: do not overpower or argue and do not sit quietly or shy. Be somewhere in between- be a part of the team. Don’t worry too much about the assessors and absolutely do not think that you are there to compete with anyone. I was advised on my day that if every candidate impressed then every candidate would go through. So it is your place to keep!

Hopefully the insight here is helpful. Remember:

  1. You are not competing with anyone, so work with the people in your team and not against them.
  2. Engage, engage, engage. Seek any opportunity to network and ask valuable questions to the graduate scheme guys or members of HR. Take an interest in their jobs!
  3. Finding the right answer for a logic-based exercise is not the goal- working with your team is.
  4. Speak up in the group exercises. The assessors cannot mark you positively if you sit quietly.
  5. Spend at least 3 days researching the company and planning your competency-based answers carefully. This is probably the most important point of all!

Best of luck and feel free to contact me if you have any questions. 🙂

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