10 Top Tips
The 10 Top tips for assessment centres given here are based on the guidance we provide our career coaching clients. Some career coaching clients ask for help in preparing themselves for a forthcoming assessment centre. Because of our experience in designing and running assessment centres we have found the career coaching tips given here enable our clients to be successful in getting the job that they want.
What Are Assessment Centres?
Assessment Centres are events that many employers use to determine the suitability of a number of candidates for a particular job. The numbers attending may vary but ordinarily would not be more than twelve. They are designed to assess candidates against a set of competencies for the role and may contain group and individual exercises as well as an interview. From an employer’s point of view an assessment centre enables them to see a number of candidates and compare them against each other in a consistent way in order to make a selection decision. Because a number of exercises are involved and there can be several assessors this avoids some of the biases of one to one interviews and so a better selection decision can be made.
So How Do They Work?
Most employers have their own set of competencies and although the competencies may have different names e.g. Drive for Results versus Results Orientation, the competencies are often fairly similar. In an Assessment Centre each exercise will be designed to assess around two competencies. Over the event each competency is assessed in at least two of the exercises.
This is an example of a typical assessment centre with competencies being assessed against each exercise;
- Briefing on the day and introduction to Assessors
- Group exercise 1 – to assess team working and communication skills
- Ability test – to assess verbal and numerical skills
- Group exercise 2 – to assess customer service, negotiation and drive for results
- Interview – competence based interview to assess several competencies
- Presentation – to assess influencing, customer service and communication skills
- Wrap up session – to brief on what happens next
10 Top Tips for Success
- There are some things you can prepare for in advance. Ask the organisation if they can let you have a set of the competencies they will be using. Many are happy to do this. If they will not release the competencies think through for yourself what they may be. A typical set of competencies for a management job might include; Drive for Results, Team Working, Decision Making, Courage and Conviction, Problem Solving, Communication, Inter-Personal Skills, Impact and Influencing, Leadership Skills, Commitment to the Customer and Creativity.
- In preparation for the interview make sure you have examples of where you have shown the competencies that are being looked for. Write them out describing the situation, the action you took and the result. Practice these answers in a mirror and then get a friend to ask you for the examples and rehearse them again. Each answer should be no more than 3 minutes.
- Again for the interview ensure you practice running through your CV highlighting your key achievements. This should take no more than 3 or 4 minutes. Remember the interview may only last 40 minutes so you do not want to spend half of it giving your life history!
- If the centre is going to contain verbal and numeracy tests practice them. There are various online sites that have examples. Alternatively employers will often send out practice tests if requested. If there is a personality test on the day don’t worry, there is no need to practice. Answer it honestly, after all you are who you are and personality tests are designed to show if someone is manipulating to the answers.
- Make sure that in all group exercises you make a contribution. The Assessors are looking for evidence of things you say and do so that they can rate you against the competencies. If you say little or nothing they will either give you a poor rating or no rating as there was no evidence of the competency
- In the group exercises try not to be the person that volunteers to keep notes or write things on the flipchart. This tends to mean you will become ‘sidelined’ and unable to get in to the group discussion
- Try to be assured and confident in the group discussions and demonstrate good interpersonal and team skills. If you disagree with something say so and explain why. Give an alternative suggestion or build on the first idea where that is possible. The exercises tend not to have a right answer. They are designed to enable participants to demonstrate their skills and reach a decision.
- Avoid being aggressive, shouting or talking over others in the group exercises this will not help you get a good rating. The best advice is to be your normal work self. Try to imagine the people in the group are just the people you work with every day.
- If there is a presentation make sure you have practiced it several times, ideally in front of friends or family. The key thing is to ensure that you stay within the time limit allowed. Remember this is likely to be looking at your communication and influencing skills. So make sure you have done your research and present your points in a concise and ‘punchy’ manner
- A couple of points related to the time outside the actual event. Make sure you get there with a bit of time to spare. This will allow you to familiarise yourself with the surroundings and may be have an informal chat with assessors and other candidates. Finally remember you are always on show. So if you are having lunch with the assessors and other candidates treat this as part of the event.
By following the tips in this article you will avoid a lot of common mistakes made by candidates. So make sure you prepare for the event as described here and then follow the guidance for the actual day. This will enable you to feel prepared and confident. As a result you will have the best chance of beating your competition. The tips given here have worked time and time again for our career coaching clients. Career coaching clients sometimes do not rehearse and practice and that has led to overuns on presentations, or an explanation of their CV that takes 90% of the interview time. It will come as no surprise to find they failed to get the job. Career coaching clients who use the tips more often than not get the job.
For more information on the services we offer see our career coaching page.
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Keywords: 10 top tips for assessment centres, assessment centre tips, assessment centres, career coach, Career Coaching, Career Coaching Clients, Career Coaching Company, Career Coaching Provider, Career Coaching Services
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