How to defeat the dreaded assessment centre

How to defeat the dreaded assessment centre

Author: Jenna Alexander, National Head of Internal Recruitment at Hays

You’ve found the job you love and the company you want to work for, however in order to get that dream job you may have to attend an Assessment Centre. There is possibly nothing more daunting for candidates than an Assessment Centre, and most FTSE 250 companies include a group interview as part of their recruitment process.

You’re right to be apprehensive, Assessment Centres are tricky. Having to be prepared for anything, whilst also being able to think on your feet and better than everyone else in the room is asking a lot of you, but it’s what you need to do if you want to progress.

I have been hosting Assessment Centres for as long as I can remember and, over this period, I’ve found that there are some simple unwritten rules that will help you defeat the dreaded Assessment Centre. Here are six of the most effective:

1. Do your homework

Don’t arrive at a group interview thinking you can impress without being prepared – you need to know your stuff. Researching the business will be the absolute least expected of you.

Consider the company’s statistics on a local, national and global level where relevant and, more importantly, consider their culture and values. You can then use your knowledge of the company culture to demonstrate that you share their values, and would be a good fit for their business.

2. Look the part

First impressions count for a lot, so show your assessors you really care about the job by making the effort to look good. Jeans and a t-shirt rarely say ‘I really want this’.

3. Stop, take a deep breath and focus

You are going to be nervous. Your heart will be pounding and you’ll be thinking of a hundred different things all at once. Stop, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’re at this Assessment Centre because the employer has seen something in you they like.

Also try and recognise your nerves as being useful and a force for good. Think of your stress response as helpful to your performance. Research shows that those who see stress in a positive light actually see their body react differently to those who perceive it to be negative

4. Speak often, but listen more

The true ‘trick’ to defeating the dreaded Assessment Centre lies in your ability to listen. Assessment Centres are not about showing off and being the most talkative in the room, they’re about listening and following instructions well.

Consider what your Assessor is asking you to do – if you listen well enough, you might find your Assessor will drop subtle tips and hints as to how to successfully complete a task.

5. Smile and maintain eye contact

There is nothing more disengaging than someone looking out the window or reading from a piece of paper. Look up and radiate confidence. Two ways that you can easily project confidence are by smiling at the Assessors and maintaining eye contact throughout all the tasks – both are easy to do and go a very long way.

6. Always be closing

In the recruitment industry we always talk about ‘closing a deal’ by remembering the A, B, Cs – the fundamental principles, ‘Always Be Closing’. Nowhere is this phrase of greater use and significance than at an Assessment Centre. You are in that room competing for your dream job and you should always sell yourself as the most suitable person for the position. The fact is, you are!

Thank you for reading! For more useful advice and insights about the world of work, visit our dedicated blog page here or click on one of the links below.




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