A successful interview often leads to an assessment centre. What should you expect? Typically you will join a group of six to eight candidates and be asked to undertake a series of tasks to demonstrate your potential. The selectors will measure you against a set of competencies.
A topic is given to the group to discuss, reach a consensus and make a proposal. You may be given a briefing pack and asked to take on a particular role. The assessors are looking for your contribution within the team, along with your communication and planning skills, to see if you can work with others to reach a suitable outcome. Candidates who do well at this stage address others by name, encourage quieter group members to contribute and listen carefully to others. They ensure the group completes its assigned task successfully whilst contributing their own ideas to the discussion. Have a look at the .
If you have already had a first interview, this second interview is likely to be more in-depth, and may probe any weaker areas that emerged earlier, including your performance in the tests and exercises you have just encountered. Treat this interview as independent from an earlier one – never assume that your interviewer is familiar with your previous answers. More information on interview tests and exercises can be found on the Prospects website.
A typical written exercise is an in-tray (or e-tray) exercise, designed to test how you analyse complex information within a limited time. It is common, particularly in an e-tray exercise, for additional emails to arrive, requiring you to re-prioritise within a tight timescale. Careful management of your time is essential.
You may be asked to give a presentation to the selectors and possibly the other candidates. This could be a set topic, perhaps related to one of the other exercises, or you might be given a free choice. You may be asked to prepare your presentation in advance or you may have to produce it on the day. Structure your presentation carefully, with a clear beginning, middle and end. It’s a good idea to bring things to life with examples or stories. Be prepared to answer questions about your presentation at the end.
Use every opportunity to talk to recent graduates. Remember that you are being assessed so don’t let yourself down by asking inappropriate questions or drinking too much. Show interest in other people by asking questions such as 'What work have you been involved in over the last 6 months?', and go prepared with a simple answer to the question 'Tell me about yourself'.
- Find out as much as you can about the assessment format in advance.
- Plan your journey carefully, leave plenty of time and take a map and contact details.
- Take your application, preparation notes and letter of invitation with you.
- Dress appropriately and neatly - err towards formality if in doubt.