So, you have passed the initial application and/or first interview and have now been invited to an assessment day so your prospective employer can get an in-depth understanding of your skills.
Assessment days often consist of multiple activities that are designed to put your knowledge, aptitude and personality to the test. It can be tricky to know what to expect, so we have listed a number of activities you could expect on the assessment day.
Assessment Day Activities:
- Case Study
- Group Exercise
- Role Play Exercises
- In-tray Exercises
- Psychometric & Aptitude Tests
• Prior to the assessment, notify the employer of any special needs if you have any
• Do some prior research on what type of exercises the employers usually test on its assessment days
• Familiarise with the best approaches to impress in the various tests that are likely to be used
• Have a good night sleep. Arrive on time, fresh and well prepared for an eventful day
• Stay positive – the fact that they have picked you from thousands of applicants means you are pretty good!
• During the exercises the employers will be assessing how you perform and conduct yourself so be assertive and a confident team player and showcase your interpersonal and teamworking skills
• Be passionate and show that you want to work for them and have a lot to offer.
• Contribute to group activities. Avoid being too passive or being too dominant
• Articulate your thoughts – unfortunately most assessors are not mind readers
• Try to build rapport with other candidates (and assessors). Network, chat and be-friend other candidates during breaks and in-between activities to help you relax and boost your confidence, which might come in handy when interacting and working with them later in the day
• Pay particular attention to little things like gestures, facial expressions and maintaining as eye contact
• Don’t dwell too much on your mistakes – If you feel your performance in one of the exercises was not as good as you would want, try not getting too discouraged – it is your overall performance in all the exercises that counts
• Enjoy yourself and have fun making new friends
• Whatever outcome of the interview process; ask for some feedback to aid your continuous professional development. This will make you a better candidate for the next Assessment Day, that’s if you need one
Finally, you may be required to do an Assessment Centre reflection. Whether it’s a form, presentation or write-up, you need to look back on your experience and assess how you’ve done and what your experience has been like. You’ll have to analyse what went well and what parts could have gone better and how well you think you’d performed. It’s difficult to prepare for this segment of the day so just remember to keep notes to assist you. Some people have written about what their day at an assessment centre devised as blog posts for others to see, so it may not be a bad idea to have a browse in preparation!
Group exercises are a great way of measuring how well you work as part of a team which is an important factor of any job.
You’ll often be put into small-medium sized groups and be given a situation that needs resolving or a task that needs completing. It is then up to everybody in your group to work together to solve the issue and present your findings. Your recruiters will be observing how you work together and will be making notes on individual performances. Assessors also want to see what role you play in helping the group come to a consensus and achieve the goals of the task.
Flexibility and adaptability are fundamental parts of team-working. Whilst trying to demonstrate your leadership skills it is important to prove that you are also adaptable and able to support, listen and collaborate with your teammates.
15 useful tips when participating in a group exercise
1. Self-assess yourself continually throughout the exercise. Strike a balance between being and extreme extrovert and being an extreme introvert. Avoid being too quiet or loud rumbling – consistently make a contribution but be clear, concise and straight to the point as much as possible. And always give others a chance to speak and don’t be bossy.
2. Be fair and inclusive – listen to and support other members, especially those who may feel ignored or neglected – give them an opportunity or ask for their views.
3. Support and encourage input; and build on other team-members’ ideas to demonstrate your collaborative skills and social confidence. Recognise brilliant ideas from colleagues – acknowledge them, then go on to enhance value to those ideas.
4. Help the group establish a structure. If possible, suggest that people pick roles / responsibilities – to demonstrate your ability to take initiative. Suggest using Belbin’s nine team roles to identify your best role (Are you a Shaper, Implementer, Completer/Finisher, Coordinator, Team-worker, Resource Investigator, Plant, Monitor/Evaluator or Specialist?).
5. Avoid discussing with the assessors if they are in the same room – just act as if they are not there. Also avoid staring at the camera, if there is one.
6. Handle disruptive candidates with wisdom – avoid being dragged into a conflict / argument and demonstrate your ability to influence others positively.
7. Call your colleagues by name to demonstrate courtesy, professionalism and your ability to build relationships. Work with fellow candidates not as threats / competitors, but as potential future colleagues / associates).
8. Show enthusiasm or persuasiveness when making your contributions. Present your opinions in an assertive and convincing manner, without being too hesitant or too confident.
9. Present logical arguments supported with strong commercial awareness and always diplomatically make your contributions stand out.
10. Show creativity when articulating your ideas.
11. Avoid being overbearing, interrupting others, mourning or criticising others – ensure your communications are moderated at all times.
12. If someone criticises you whilst trying to put your point across, fins a polite way of standing for yourself, expressing nicely the reason behind your point.
13. Avoid get too obviously annoyed when other members dismiss your point or disagree with you. If you have tried to stand for yourself but still your opinion is not accepted by the group, gracefully accept the outcome and support the group’s chosen option.
14. Constantly check that the team is still following instructions and is still focused on the project brief and objective.
15. Demonstrate the importance of time management to demonstrate your ability to manage time and work under pressure and within strict deadlines. Most groups exercises are time pressured. If you feel there is limited progress or the group is straying away from the core objective, encourage the group members to try and focus on the main objective and make progress to ensure you achieve your goals within the allocated timeslot.
Typical group exercise could include any of the following:
Practical group exercises:
These usually involve a complex problem-solving task, whether work-related or not, in which the team is supposed to work together and find an ideal solution. Such exercises will allow the employer to assess the candidates’ collaborative, team working, problem-solving and analytical skills. Examples of tasks could be:
• Survival strategies when stranded on an island
• Dealing with the after-effects of a natural disaster
• Building a tower out of wood or straw
Discussion group exercises: In such exercises, the group could tasked with discssing possible solutions to a work-related or none-work-related complex problem or scenario. Each member of the group is expected to contribute in analysiing the problem, discussing alternative solutions and then arriving at a logical and suitable conclusion to address group then must address this issue and find an implementation strategy to resolve the issue and arrive to a logical conclusion.
Examples of tasks could be:
• Dealing with a subsidiary in a region that is a war or natural disaster affected area
• Supporting a struggling business unit
• Launching and selling a new product
• Assessing the success or failure of a merger/takeover
• Managing a complex work-related project
• Managing changing priorities and dealing with conflict
• Advising a business dealing with a complex client
• Discussing on the business dealing with a topical/trending (usually news-related) issue such as Brexit
Leadership group exercises:
In such exercises, each member of the group could be tasked with chairing a meeting, discussion or problem-solving scenario. The key competences being tested are your leadership, time-management, delegation, decisiveness, listening and assertiveness skills.
Key tips when chairing a meeting:
• Briefly introduce and set the scene
• Highlight the objectives of the meeting and the conclusion that need to be arrived at
• Oversee the discussion and delegation/allocation of responsibilities (if necessary)
• Ensure that the discussion is flowing smoothly, involving all members present
• Monitor and control the discussion to ensure there are no team members dominating the meeting or introducing conflict
• Manage time and ensure progress is being made
• Preside in arriving at a logical conclusion
For further resources and examples of group exercises check out the following links: