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Getting Ready For Assessment Centres

Graduate Jobs Interviews Skills

There is no doubt that applications for graduate jobs are challenging, especially due to the number of tests that need to be taken before even getting an interview. Still, once you get to the final stage, you need to be ready for the challenge

There is no doubt that applications for graduate jobs are challenging, especially due to the number of tests that need to be taken before even getting an interview. Still, once you get to the final stage, you need to be ready for the challenge.

Employers focus on tests during assessment centres since they reveal much about students' key skills and how they react under pressure. Nobody will find it easy to finish all of the questions, but it is important to not leave any parts unanswered if possible. The exercises are usually based on a real company, so bringing in your own knowledge from the news will help. However, most of the time you will need to adapt to the given scenario and provide relevant responses.

There are some parts of an assessment centre, which are typical for most companies. One is a group exercise, where you are presented with a business case, which you have to prepare and discuss with other candidates. The key qualities employers are looking for are teamwork and leadership skills when dividing up the roles and responsibilities. Also, you need to find the right balance between ensuring your thoughts are conveyed well and listening to other's opinions. You will be observed by an assessor at all times, so make sure you stay alert and try to actively participate. Sometimes the group exercise will naturally lead onto a presentation about the company, and the key here is to summarise the most important facts and then deliver the talk in a concise and interesting way.

Another fairly common test is an in-tray or e-tray exercise. This is essentially a simulation of a business environment where you are sent various emails and then have to respond to them appropriately. One of the main competencies tested here are organisational skills, since you need to prioritise emails to see which ones are more important and require a faster response. This is just like in the office, when emails from clients or your managers need to be answered efficiently. Also, you need to be accurate and use appropriate language when typing the emails. For example, be careful about spelling since spell check is usually not available!

Overall, you need to prepare thoroughly for assessment centres and this will be difficult, since often there is not much time between the various rounds of the application process. Still, by practising your technique and learning what to expect with experience, you will manage to stay composed on the day and deliver your best performance.

Arnab Datta

arnab datta grb author

Arnab has a degree in Computer and Software Engineering and also went on to study Management with Information Technology at the University of Lancaster.

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