You made it through the application stage, came through the interview with flying colours, you’re nearly there with that job offer in your hand…..but wait, there’s yet another hurdle – or hurdles – to leap, the assessment centre!
First of all it can be useful – and reassuring – to consider just why employers subject you to such activities. What at first sight may seem like a random series of activities designed to strike fear into you, are actually, on reflection, used to make sure you have a variety of opportunities to give of your best, to show employers just what you are capable of.
Instead of it all resting on one interview, you have several activities to demonstrate your potential. So if one thing doesn’t go quite as well as you hoped, all is not lost, there are other activities in which you may shine. Remembering this can help to make the whole thing seem a whole lot less stressful.
And feedback from students who’ve experienced assessment centres indicates that once they get used to them, they actually start to enjoy them!
It’s also useful to remember that it isn’t a competition with the other candidates – it’s not about ‘winning’. Employers are keen to find out whether you have the potential to do a particular role for them – they decide the criteria they are assessing you for, and everyone at the assessment centre has the potential to meet the criteria – or not. They may take you all – or no-one! As one student put it recently
‘be yourself – it’s not about ‘winning’, it’s about seeing how you behave and react’.
So, what can you expect at an Assessment Centre?
Each organisation will do it slightly differently, and design a programme of exercises to assess their requirements. If you’ve got an assessment centre coming up, and aren’t clear what to expect, just get back to the employer and ask – most are very happy to clarify. Typical assessment centre exercises include:
You’ll also find a useful summary on what to expect and how to succeed at Assessment Centres in our Careers Service Guide.
And last, but by no means least – the checklist for that vital Preparation:
- Yet more research – know your application form or CV inside out; remind yourself what competencies and attributes this employer’s looking for; keep up to date with current issues relevant to the job or organisation – use appropriate media for your research.
- read our booklet Successful Interviews for more on preparing for assessment centres
- assessment centre feedback from students – find out how other students got on – great insight into individual experiences – on SAGE (under individual employer entries), or paper copies available in Careers Service.
- reference books and resources on assessment centres – read them at the Careers Service.
- use our E-books on preparing for assessment centres – a new service available to current students
- check out Prospects information on preparing for and performing well at assessment centres.
- watch our assessment centre video (via University of Edinburgh PCs only – licencing regs! )
- get advice on assessment centres via Careerplayer
- sign up for an assessment centre workshop during semester, get some practice in!