Some companies run a series of extended selection procedures, called assessment centres, each lasting one or two days or sometimes longer. Usually, these are after the first round of interviews and before the final selection but they can be used as an initial selection process. They are commonly held either on employers’ premises or in a hotel and are considered by many organisations to be the fairest and most accurate method of selecting staff. This is because a number of different selectors get to see you over a longer period of time and have the chance to see what you can do, rather than what you say you can do, in a variety of situations.
Assessment centres typically include a number of elements:
- Social/informal events, where you could meet a variety of people, including other candidates, the selectors, recent graduates and senior management. This is presented as an opportunity for you to find out about the organisation and to ask questions in a more casual setting. These events may appear informal and not part of the true assessment procedure but you should behave in a way that reflects well on you. You should certainly avoid any excesses of food, behaviour and, especially, alcohol.
- Information sessions, which provide more details about the organisation and the roles available. Listen carefully, as the information provided is likely to be more up to date than your previous research. If you are unclear about anything, ask. It is useful to have a question prepared for these sessions but make sure that the answer has not already been covered. Asking inappropriate questions just to get noticed will not impress the selectors.
- Tests and exercises designed to reveal your potential. Selectors at assessment centres measure you against a set of competencies and each exercise is designed to assess one or more of these areas. Don’t worry if you think you have performed badly at any stage; it is likely that you will have the chance to compensate later on. Also, remember that you are being assessed against these competencies and not against the other candidates so, rather than trying to compete against them, make sure that you demonstrate the qualities the organisation is seeking.
In preparation, watch the AGCAS DVD Selection Success In One, available at the CEEC centre. The Careers service will run a number of workshops on Assessment centres and you will also be able to sign up to undertake a number of aptitude tests.
If you have a disability that may affect your performance in any of the exercises mentioned, you should discuss the matter with the employer before attending the assessment centre.