Blog article from Inside Careers…
Assessment centres loom large in the nightmares of graduate job hunters. They are a central part of a wide range of graduate employers’ hiring processes and are therefore, for many, an unavoidable evil. The prospect of those observed group activities in which candidates try in that short window to present their best possible selves is certainly daunting. On the one hand, the candidate wants to show they are a model worker, someone who the employer immediately sees can be trusted to lead others. On the other hand, in such a pressured and ultimately fabricated setting, how can graduates let their qualities truly shine?
Fortunately, there are a few handy hints graduates can be armed with going into an assessment centre. These are time-efficient and convenient to remember, making them easy to action during a group activity and give assessors clear, memorable flashes of your talents.
1) Take your watch off
Once the group task has been set, take off your watch, lay it on the table and suggest to be the time keeper for the exercise. You are unlikely to be refused, and straight off the mark you have shown that you can take the initiative in steering the group.
2) Offer to read out the brief
Another hint to start you off, offer to read out the brief to the group. Assessors will often only give fewer information sheets than candidates to offer a chance to show subtle communication, negotiation and delivery skills.
3) Remember names
If there’s an opportunity, introduce yourself and catch other candidates’ names. Using names confidently and correctly when delegating tasks or eking out contributions from the whole group looks instantly impressive since the assessor will know you met the other candidates moments before but have made an effort to build rapport.
4) Play the part
Assessment centre exercises typically ask you to imagine that the other candidates and yourself are one kind of professional delivering a presentation to another kind, played by the assessors. Don’t go over-the-top with the amateur dramatics, but pay attention to these instructions when you are planning how to address yourselves. Confidently stepping into the role of the task shows an impressive attention to detail and willingness to enter into the spirit of a new situation.
5) Listen with eyes and hands
Listen actively: make eye contact when other candidates are talking and use hands to show enthusiasm about another’s contribution. Use gesture to manage when multiple candidates wish to talk at once to show visually you are in control of the flow of conversation.