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Assessment Centres Friend of Foe

Head-hunter briefing: Sounds fantastic

Job description: Exactly what I’m looking for

Glassdoor review: All positive

Linked in research: Impressive peer group

Application process: ‘’Assessment Centre’’ …

In today’s market, I would struggle to find a job seeker whose finger wouldn’t hover over the submit button for a little while after hearing an assessment centre is a mandatory requirement of the application process.

But why? What exactly is an assessment centre and why are candidates put off by them?

An assessment centre is a combination of tasks and activities that test your suitability for the job. It gives you the chance to demonstrate a wider range of skills than you would have been able to during a traditional face-to-face interview.

Love them or hate them, assessment centres are becoming increasingly popular especially within larger organisations. So, perhaps we should look at the process more positively. As top tier employers continue to utilise assessment centres as part of their selection process, surely there are some take-aways for those who attend?

First and foremost, you may perform exceptionally well and be offered the position. If, however this isn’t the case, you will still be presented with an invaluable chance to extend your network, an opportunity to assess the organisation as future employer and perhaps, most importantly, you will receive a non-biased review of your strengths, weaknesses and development needs. 

So then, here are my top tips for those who embrace the challenge.

  • Invest time in preparation

Whether you have secured your place through a direct application or via a recruiter, never underestimate the level of preparation you’ll need to do prior the assessment centre. In 90% of cases, a couple of hours the night before will not suffice. You have booked a day off work so why not give yourself the best chance to succeed?

  • Do not commit unless you are committed

The prospect of multiple interviews, group exercises and online tests is daunting and I have yet to work with someone who looks forward to attending an assessment centre. Regardless of your apprehension, please remember, the worst thing you can do is to withdraw from it at short notice. Many job seekers fail to consider the logistics of setting up the day, let alone the associated costs and the influence this may have on other applicants if a cancellation is being made. Hiring managers, recruiters and HR leads are more than familiar with transportation, bereavement and ‘last minute meeting’ emails and, will undoubtedly, remember the name of those who have let them down.

  • Expect the unexpected

Assessment centres are not designed to be a comfortable ride, they often aim to scrutinise your responses when the pressure is on. Do not be deterred by a difficult role play or ‘impossible’ tasks. It is not always your answer but your behaviours that will carry you through.

  • Network, Network, Network

Yes, you are at an assessment centre in the hope of securing a new role however don’t underestimate the opportunities to network that will be available. Firstly, you are likely to meet many peers within your market which will provide a good indication of how you are tracking in terms of skill set and development. Secondly, the HR team and assessors running the day could become exceptionally useful long-term contacts regardless of whether you receive an offer or not.

On a final note, come with an open mind and whatever the outcome of the assessment centre, ask your assessors for feedback soon after you hear their decision.