Nov
21

How To Pass Assessment Centre Exercises in the UK

It is very likely that you will be invited to attend an Assessment Center at some stage in your career and during your job search process. It can be quite baffling and indeed a little scary for a first timer and in this article I will give you some top advice and tips as to what Assessment Center Exercises here in the UK are all about what is involved and how to pass.

What is an Assessment Centre?

Oftentimes, one of the most accurate as well as most objective ways to select promising employees is through the use of an Assessment Centre.These basically involve a series of selection procedures including exercises, tests and even interviews all designed to determine if you are capable and right for a position.

Typically, the Assessment Centre Exercises are run by the recruiting employer over an extended period of time from a couple of hours to a couple of days. They often come prior to making a final selection for potential positions, but tend also to precede or even include first interviews.  However, it is not unusual for businesses to use Assessment Centres as a means for making their initial screening and selection.

Where is the Assessment Centre located?

Here in the UK, most assessment centre exercises will take place on the premises of the prospective business or the business will hold them at an area hotel meeting facility.  Assessment centres allow representatives from a business to assess a potential employee’s qualifications, skills, educational background, and experience over a much longer time frame than they would be able to during a typical interview. As a result, it gives employers the opportunity to see what a potential employee has to offer through a number of work related scenarios.

Who uses Assessment Centre Exercises for Recruitment?

Any employer can utilise assessment centre exercises in order to better assess the qualifications of potential candidates.  However,these businesses will typically be larger in size as the smaller businesses tend to have more difficulty organising such an event due to the high overhead cost involved. On the other hand, these smaller sized businesses have recently began to use key elements associated with assessment centres such as psychometric testing and various exercises when interviewing potential candidates.

TOP TIP: Even if you are not specifically invited to an Assessment Centre find out if you will have to complete any tests as part of your interview. You will then be able to prepare accordingly.

What are the Benefits for Employers?

There are a number of reasons why UK based employers will select to use assessment centres. It is an ideal situation to see how potential candidates will function in a team environment. They can also be tested with real life scenarios focused on work related events.  Oftentimes, assessment centres are used when a large number of potential employees are needed by a business to fill positions quickly and effectively.

The cost associated with an assessment centre and having a potential candidate attend will vary due to the length of the program, the number of employees needed in order to assess potential candidates, and the number of various tasks involved.  However, many businesses are more than happy to spend the required amount of money needed to send potential candidates to an assessment centre due to the overall success rate this type of program has shown in providing qualified individuals to fill their vacant positions.

Assessment Centre Exercises Vs Traditional Interviews

Many studies have been conducted by business psychologists on the different types of methods being used in recruiting potential employees.  These studies showed that the traditional type of job interview was no longer an accurate or reliable method of determining how a potential candidate would perform in the future in work-based situations.  Poor decisions based on traditional interviewing techniques can occur for example when the interviewer uses personal bias. This of course can cause a business to hire the wrong candidate or to even miss out on a more qualified applicant.

However, when candidates participate in assessment centre programs, employers can be reassured that they have been screened appropriately and objectively by highly competent assessors.  Candidates are put through a series of tasks that will mimic real life work related events to determine their ability and competency.

Assessors also have the ability to determine potential candidate’s strengths as well as their weaknesses, while picking up on certain personality traits that an employer might be looking for.  All of these key factors combined will enable a business to select candidates who are better suited to the role and to the organisation.

Typical Assessment Centre Exercises

There are a whole range of different tests and exercises you may be asked to take part in. These will all be used to asses your skill and competency and ultimately determine your real potential.

Typical exercises used at an assessment centre include:

  • Aptitude tests
  • Personality tests
  • Group discussions
  • Case study
  • Role Plays
  • Presentation
  • In tray exercise
  • Written exercise

Exercises will vary depending ion the level of the post and the type of industry and may incorporate a face to face interview. It is likely you will have to participate in group situations with each exercise monitored and scored by an assessor.

The Role of The Assessor

The assessors conducting the information sessions, tests, and exercises are often representatives of the human resource department. In addition they may include the hiring manager who is responsible for making the final decision.

Assessors will be trained to be much more objective and will be looking to see how each potential candidate reacts during particular exercises. They will score and make notes accordingly based on the competencies required in the role. For example they may be looking for key skills such as leadership qualities, good communication skills, and the ability to work with others.

Benefits for You as a Job Applicant

Not only will you have the comfort of knowing that the decision will be made based on your ability, you will also have the opportunity to meet other potential candidates. You will meet with assessors and management representatives from the prospective employer. This will give you a good insight into that business and the types of people you will be working with.

It is also the perfect opportunity to learn more about the business and other available positions all of which could be useful in your future job search.

Preparing For An Assessment Centre

Preparation is essential and I suggest you start by reading all available information from the employer’s web site or any other relevant business information. For most Psychometric and Aptitude test you can practice in advance with mock tests and while these may not be exactly the same they will give you a good idea of what is involved.

Research how to perform in Group Exercises and how to give a presentation and if you are taking part on a face to face interview use all of the tips on the site including our job interview preparation guide.

Tips to Help Pass Assessment Centre Exercises

Here are some useful tips to keep in mind on the day. Some are fairly obvious but do remember that even the smallest of detail could make a difference.

1. Prepare: It is vital that you are prepared ahead of time in order to perform at your best.

2. Proper Conduct: The most important role you have is to conduct yourself as if you were already employees of the business holding the assessment centre.

3. Dress Appropriately: You should also dress appropriately by wearing conservative business attire.

4. Greeting: When being greeted, you should always look the individual directly in the eye and deliver a firm hand shake, while being polite and courteous at the same time.

5. Meet Others: It is vital that representatives of the business see you as a team player, which can be accomplished by taking the first step to introduce yourself to assessors and other potential candidates.

6. Be on your Guard: Keep in mind, whether you are directly being tested or not, every thing you do will be seen and noted.

7. Read the Instructions: The best tip anyone can have it to simply be themselves, pay close attention to all instructions, and read any information provided during the procedures.

8. Stay Motivated: Some test and exercises will be more difficult for you than others, but do not let this discourage you in your quest.  It is important that you keep motivated throughout the entire procedure as well as remain focused on their task at hand.

Oftentimes, potential candidate become nervous thinking they might have performed badly on a particular test.  However, it is important to keep in mind that several tests and exercises will be given and there is always an opportunity to excel at other times during the assessment centre’s program.

Remember, you are being measured by a pre-set standard and not by how well the other candidates are doing so stay focused, motivated and keep all these tips in mind and you will have a successful and enjoyable experience at your Assessment Centre.

About the Author |
Joe McDermott (Google+) CEO and founder of Anson Reed the leading interview training and coaching company. He is a qualified recruitment professional and has appeared on the BBC, TV and Radio and is a regular contributor to recruitment websites and forums.