Being invited to an assessment center can be scary because you don’t know how your day will unfold or what kind of tests you have to go through. Assessment days are being used more often in the graduate recruitment process to simulate the kind of activities that applicants would be doing once they get hired. They are an effective way to assess the suitability of candidates because they are much more accurate than a single interview.
The activities undertaken during an assessment day will vary depending on the specific employer and the job role being filled.
The day usually follows a similar structure to this:
When you arrive, you may listen to a presentation about the company from a member of the management team or a key person connected with the business. Listen carefully to the information you are provided in this session as you may be asked to use it later in the day.
An icebreaker activity usually follows, and this is designed to ease your nerves and will be an opportunity to introduce yourself and learn about the other candidates. Just a tip: participate enthusiastically during icebreakers and show genuine interest in fellow candidates.
Aptitude and/or Psychometric Test
These tests are a crucial part of the selection process. Even if you have already taken one or more aptitude tests earlier in the recruitment process, you may be asked to re-take them. Aptitude and/or psychometric tests are statistically examined, are unbiased and have the ability to accurately predict which applicants were likely to be successful if hired.
In tray or e-tray exercise
During an in tray or e-tray exercise, you will be presented with a series of tasks which are typical for the opportunity you are applying for. Tasks such as email messages, reports or briefing documents will be given and applicants need to prioritize a certain task and provide an explanation of why they chose to accomplish that task first.
This activity can take many forms. Some businesses will ask applicants to complete a group presentation, a group discussion based on a case study or a task that involves solving a problem.
Individual or Group Presentation
This could be based on a topic provided in advance or on a case study from earlier in the day. Presentations are used to gauge how you communicate and/or deliver a message. To be successful in this phase, you have to make sure you present your ideas in a clear and coherent manner.
There could be one or more interviews over the course of the day which could involve a one to one or a panel interview or both. The key is to be prepared and do your own research about the company and the role you’re applying for. You also need to make sure that you are well-rested and not physically or mentally exhausted.
Throughout the day there will also be social breaks. Although not formally assessed, they are a great opportunity to demonstrate how effective your people and interpersonal skills are.
Again, the best way to succeed during an assessment day is to prepare thoroughly. Complete as many practice aptitude tests as you can, and carefully read through the correspondence that the recruiter sends you. The assessment day is what you make of it. If you go with an optimistic outlook and really carry yourself well, there is no reason why your assessment day can’t result in an offer of employment.
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Edward Mellett is the founder of Practice Reasoning Tests. After failing employer’s assessment tests many times before getting a graduate job in 2005, he created PracticeReasoningTests to teach the lessons he learned along the way. Edward has created numerous in-depth guides about psychometric testing and other types of job tests.