In the past couple of years I have spoken to several employers, alumni and students with regards to what advice they have for being successful at assessment centres and therefore here are my top 5 assessment centre tips.
- Be yourself
I know many of you come with a deep sigh when I say this one, stating that you rather be what the employer wants. My answer back is quite simply: don't you think the employer notices when you are not being genuine or try and be someone you are not? Feedback from students that were successful at assessment centres usually say that the atmosphere on the day and the people they met made them feel motivated to work there and genuine, which in turn helped in the group work exercises. So, try and be the best version of you, whether that is a natural leader (then remember to listen and engage others), facilitator or collaborator (then remember to also voice your own opinions). The employer generally wants a variety of people on their teams and will choose the applicants who are themselves, have something to say and who are inclusive. Be positive, courteous and professional.
Do you know that many employers share key information about assessment centre tasks and what they are looking on their webpages, blogs and/or social media? A NHS recruiter told me at an event that if you engaged with their current graduate management scheme trainees via their blogs, for example, you would gain knowledge that would put you at a great advantage about tasks, presentations and more that will await you in their assessment centre. Talking to alumni and/or previous placement students may also give you important information you can use on the day.
- Know why you want to work for that employer
The assessment centre is usually one of the last stages of the application process. Knowing why you want to work for that employer and for that sector is crucial at this point as if you are not motivated you won’t do well. What inspires you about working there? What current news and developments interest you in the sector? Have you already spoken to people that work there? Commercial awareness and motivation are key recruitment factors.
- Be healthy
This one might be obvious but make sure you sleep well and eat healthy before the assessment centre. You don’t want to look or be tired, lose focus or seem unmotivated. Make sure you get there early, you don’t want to feel any more stressed than you already feel. If you are particularly anxious, what techniques and strategies do you have to try and remain as calm as possible? My own strategy is warming up beforehand. See my Exercise Tips for your Interview blog entry for more tips.
- Get advice and support
If you have never been to an assessment centre before, you may be extra nervous. Talking to fellow students, alumni or previous placement students will support you in preparing for the assessment centre, but you can also come and see a Careers Adviser for a careers appointment where we can talk more about the different tasks, how to prepare and discuss strategies. If a 1:1 interview is part of the day, we may also be able to book you in for a practice interview.
We wish you the best of luck!