Assessment centres can be daunting, especially if you’re fresh out of university and feeling the pressure to find a job fast. I for one wasn’t overjoyed by the thought of being in a completely new situation, with people I’d never met before and being assessed all day by those you really want to impress. However, since interning over the summer here at Enterprise I’ve had the opportunity to sit in on an assessment day, see both sides and I’m here to tell you not to worry!
Regardless of the company many assessment days consist of the same types of activities. You’ll have role plays, an individual task, a group task and a final interview. Within these four activities you could be asked to do a number of things like presentations, one on ones with an assessor, group discussions etc. Each activity is designed to encourage you to show different skills. For example, say in a group discussion you are all given a product and you have to choose 3 between you to put forward to a panel/board of directors. As you are having the discussion with your colleagues it is likely the assessors will be looking for the following things: communication skills, sales ability and leadership. Do you listen to others? Speak confidently? Understand the brief? Gain respect from others? Thinking about what skills you can show from the task you’ve been given will really impress whoever is watching.
Of course the assessors want to see you showing you have potential or a certain skill set, but honestly they aren’t looking for the perfect employee or expecting to see one from a day of observations. I was lucky enough to be in conversations where the assessors were excitedly talking about those they can develop to best suit the company. Keep in mind that there is a reason employers want graduates. We are ambitious, flexible, motivated (for the most part) and ready to kick start our careers! I don’t believe there is such thing as a new graduate being the ‘finished article’ so don’t pretend to be one. Showing your ability to learn quickly is a massive plus point for any company.
If you’ve done your homework then you should have a good idea about the kind of things your potential employer will be looking for. Say you apply to, I don’t know, a certain green logoed car rental company that was Graduate Employer of the Year in 2016… then from the website alone you could find out exactly the types of skills they look for in candidates. Take a bit of time before any stage in the interview process to think about the job you have applied for and the skills you’d need to do that job, that way you can show your potential new employer you have what they are looking for.
From sitting with the assessors after each activity I learned a lot about the way they look for new talent. As I said before, assessment days were never something I’d put in my ‘things I do well’ column but now after a bit of thought and the opportunity to experience one without the pressure of a potential job, I feel I would do a lot better and I hope from reading this you will too.
Here are my top tips:
Finally, try and enjoy it. If for some reason you have an assessment day that goes terribly, you’ll still probably learn something from it. It will build confidence (eventually), it’ll give you experience and you’ll be better equipped for the next time. Thinking positively will relax you and make you more likely to do well. Who knows, you might even meet some useful contacts there for the future.
The last little nugget of advice that was given to me during my assessment day was to show some personality. You don’t have to be the biggest character in the room or the comedian for the day, but if you can do or say at least one thing that will get you noticed, you’ll be remembered. Try leading the conversation for a while; spend time making connections with the assessors or other candidates during breaks; or even something as simple as a smiling at someone looking more nervous than you are will show that you’re motivated and want to get something out of the day.
If you think you’d make a great impression at an assessment centre then what are you waiting for? Apply for one of the vacancies at Enterprise and hopefully we’ll meet you in person very soon.
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