The Recruitment Centres Part 2: Assessment Centres

This is the second blog in our theme of The Recruitment Process. Last week we looked at psychometric testing and situational judgement testing, and this week we’re looking at the next stage if the recruitment process: assessment centres. We’ll take you through what they are, what happens, and how you recruiters use them to select candidates.

What are assessment centres?

Assessment centres are another part of the recruitment process to assess if you will be an ideal candidate for the job and for the company as a whole. They’re used quite often on graduate schemes where a lot of people will be applying for few places. They can be held in offices of the company, or in hotels. By giving you practical tasks throughout the day- employers can see how you respond to different situations in real time, rather than just giving examples in a face-to-face interview. Some assessment centres will be a full day- some can be two days with an overnight stay. Some companies use the overnight to let you mingle with other candidates, and allow you to feel more at ease for the following day’s tasks. Assessment centres can be last part of the recruitment process or can be the penultimate with a final interview afterwards.

What tasks are there?

There will be different tasks depending on the company- but most assessments centres will have different types of:
Group activities: ice-breakers, role play, making and delivering a presentation as a group, discussion about a case study.
Individual tasks such as; psychometric tests (if you haven’t done these previously), an individual presentation, an in tray exercise. Some will also have individual interviews here as well.
You should be given a rough outline of the day- even if you’re not told the specifics of each task. These will be sent out to you in advance, in order for you to prepare.

What are recruiters looking for?

Recruiters will be looking for various skills and competencies throughout the day. These can include:

Leadership– are you a leader, or a follower? How well do you listen to others? How do you try to include others in the group? Do you delegate or try to take everything on yourself?
Teamwork – Do you make sure everyone is listened to? How do you make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to voice their opinion and contribute?
Problem solving skills– How do try and solve an issue? How do you break tasks down?
Time management– How much time do you spend on each task? Do you rush at the end or plan each task effectively?
Communication– How well can you communicate with others? How do you communicate? What methods do you use when someone doesn’t understand?

How can I prepare?

You may not know all the details about the day, but that doesn’t mean you can turn up unprepared! Best thing to do is read everything you are given by the company before attending. Print it out- go over it the night before. Make sure you know the basics such as where the centre is, and what time you need to be there.

Research– look through your original application, and do more research on the company. If they list certain skills that are particularly important to them- make sure you brush up on those individual qualities.
Practice psychometric tests or your presentation if you need to give one. Again allow yourself plenty of time so you’re not rushing before the day.

Talking of brushing up on skills- become self aware– be aware of what your key skills are. Don’t try and be someone you’re not- this will look obvious to the panel- highlight what you’re best at. You don’t need to be the best in room- just your best self.

Attend our Assessment Centre workshop! Keep an eye on our Facebook page and your emails for dates.

Top tips

Be welcoming and friendly to everyone you meet on the day- from the receptionist to the cleaners.
Be patient with others in the group- they’re not the enemy.
Try and enjoy the day and the experience.
Ask for feedback if you’re not successful- this can help you later on.
Become prepared, be punctual, be smart, and be positive!

Don’t be put off- if one task doesn’t go well, then don’t lose all hope, you’re judged on the day as a whole not individual tasks.
Don’t think of the other candidates as competition. You may all get hired- or none of you.
Don’t be cocky- being confident is fine- just not too much.
Don’t talk over people or put anyone else’s ideas down.
Don’t look for the assessors if something goes wrong- or isn’t going well.

For more information on how to prepare and what assessment centres are, attend our workshop or book an appointment with us.