How To Nail Assessment Centres

Assessments Centres are now an inescapable part of many graduate employers’ recruitment processes - especially if you’re applying to work for a big business.

With this in mind, I’ve come up with some tips to avoid the classic pitfalls and, because I like porridge, I’m going to use Goldilocks and the 3 bears (yes, the children’s tale) as a metaphor.

The first thing to point out is that every business is different. Some enjoy their porridge hot (loud and extroverted candidates) and others like it cold (polite and reserved). If you’re applying for a graduate scheme with a large employer however, they will definitely want theirs ‘just right’. 

(Everyone following the porridge metaphor so far? OK, good. Let’s continue…)

This is why Assessment Centres are all about being Baby Bear’s bowl of porridge; a happy medium between hot and cold. You need to strike a balance between showing off all the great aspects which make you ‘YOU’ while, at the same time, ensuring you don’t appear too arrogant or over bearing.

So here are some tip-top tips to make sure you ace your next assessment centre:

1. The 5 P’s – Preparation Prevents P*ss Poor Performance

Think about how you are going to introduce yourself to staff and other candidates in the introductory session and during social activities. This is your ‘elevator pitch’ and it needs to be polished! 

You may be asked to deliver a short impromptu presentation on a familiar topic (common ones are ‘The Best Day of My Life’ or ‘My Favourite Hobby’). Preparing a few ideas in advance can reduce stress!

Finally, research the hell out of the company you’re interviewing at! If they have case studies of clients they work with then learn them all inside out and google them for even more information. Find out who their key people are, learn where the offices are located and, most importantly, understand what they do as a business!

2. Listen and Co-operate

Being open to the views of others, demonstrating listening skills through your body language, seeking to build consensus and helping the group focus on the task in hand are more effective ways to show leadership than coming up with lots of ideas or issuing instructions to others. Avoid the temptation to argue with, criticise or interrupt others at all costs! Standing up for your views in a diplomatic way is your aim.

3. Be enthusiastic!

Many of our clients often comment that successful candidates are those who are ready to have a go at any exercise, who show genuine interest in fellow candidates and who participate actively in discussions. Try to enjoy the assessment centre as an experience in itself; if nothing else it will enhance your self awareness and help you to relax!

4. Be yourself!

Let your natural personality shine through. Don’t try to second guess the sort of person (or porridge!) you think the employer wants. It’s impossible to keep this up over an extended period and your behaviour will appear unconvincing. You also don’t want to end up in a job that isn’t right for you!

Follow these guidelines and you’ll significantly up your odds of storming the assessment centre. Just think; nobody likes burning their tongue on their breakfast and a mouthful of cold slop is equally unappetising. My advice? Just be the best porridge you can be. If this porridge metaphor has completely eluded you, don't hesitate to call us on 0161 236 2932 and ask for Zac.


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