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Cheat Sheet

Succeeding at Assessment Centres For Dummies (UK Edition)

Large organisations often use assessment centres as part of their job recruitment drives. This Cheat Sheet helps you to prepare for the selection process, shine in every activity – and get the career you want.

Knowing What to Expect at an Assessment Centre

Not sure what to expect at an Assessment Centre? Don’t feel daunted – here are a few pointers to shed some light for you and boost your confidence as you search for employment:

  • Your performance is measured in terms of job-related skills.

  • You’re asked to participate in job-related business simulations that assess your skills and potential.

  • Your performance is assessed by several Assessors.

  • You’re assessed along with a number of other candidates.

  • Each assessor provides an independent and objective input on your performance.

  • Your overall performance is judged against a set standard, rather than against the other candidates.

  • The process is fair and equal to all candidates.

  • You can gain a realistic preview of the job.

Variations in Assessment Centres

Assessment Centres can have different purposes, so be clear about the purpose of your Centre. Assessment Centres are usually used for job selection or promotion decisions. Development Centres tend to be used to identify future potential or areas for development.

Assessment Centres can include any combination of the following items:

  • Group exercises: Team tasks with fellow candidates.

  • One-to-One exercises: Interacting with another person.

  • Work-alone exercises: Written analytical output.

  • Interviews: The Assessors can determine your previous experiences.

  • Psychometric tests: These can reveal ability or personality.

  • Other activities: These can include icebreakers, presentations about the organisation or job-role and so on.

Preparing to Visit an Assessment Centre

Don’t underestimate the power of presentation. Follow these tips to help you remain calm and in control before you even arrive at an Assessment Centre:

  • Research the organisation and the job role.

  • Ensure you know what the Assessors are looking for – speak to the organisers if you need to.

  • Complete allocated pre-centre tasks in good time.

  • Think about how you can display your strengths.

  • Ask other people about your strengths and weaknesses.

  • Learn from others’ Assessment Centre experiences.

  • Practise the tasks you expect to face.

  • Plan what to wear and how to get there.

  • Get all the things you need ready the night before.

  • Make sure you’re well rested; get an early night before your big day.

10 Tips for Success at an Assessment Centre

Assessment centres are considered by many to be the fairest and most thorough method of selecting staff, as selectors meet applicants over an extended period, and candidates are tested on a wide range of skills such as presentation-giving, panel interviews, group work, psychometric tests, negotiation and role-play. Here are top tips for maximising your chances of success:

  • Arrive in good time, ready for action.

  • Be positive – expect to succeed and you probably will.

  • Pay close attention to all instructions.

  • Focus on the objectives of each activity.

  • Take a moment to think before you act.

  • Make a positive impact – stand out from the crowd.

  • Monitor and manage your time (make sure you wear a watch!).

  • Don’t dwell on any disappointments; stay calm.

  • Be yourself and don’t act out of character.

  • Enjoy the experience – it’s fun and you can learn a lot!

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