Written by Jazmin Curzon, IBM UK Schools & Universities Attraction Co-ordinator
The assessment centre is more than likely to contain group exercises, where you’ll be tested on your communication, problem solving and team work skills. These exercises are designed so the organisation can see how you react in an environment similar to the one you will be working in. The task, activities and problem solving scenarios may mimic workplace scenarios but be prepared for anything.
Imagine you’re in a bright room. You’re sat around a large circular table. Sat around the table are your peers and your competition. In front of you is a box of matches, a rope, a mirror and a tin of beans. You need to chat with the candidates before you discuss how you would survive on a desert island using these items. So where do you start?
These types of scenarios are common and it’s not always the answer the assessors are looking for but how you approach finding the answer. You will need to work with your team, be assertive and share your ideas. If you follow these three things you should feel confident.
What are you assessed on and how should you respond?
Primarily you are assessed on your team work skills and leadership potential.
For teamwork you need to show you can listen to others and can help come up with solutions. Be confident, share your ideas but don’t disregard other people’s suggestions either. A mistake that often happens in assessment centres is that candidates get impatient to get their ideas heard and end up dominating the group. Similarly, if you encounter a candidate that is eager to impress the assessors, be patient and add in thoughtful questions and ideas when you can.
For leadership you are expected to be able to facilitate a discussion, perhaps by suggesting ways to solve a problem or to move things forward. It may be the case you need to delegate the workload. You are also expected to encourage others to join in, encouraging quieter team members to provide their ideas. If the group loses focus try to get things back on track.
In addition to teamwork, assessment centers look at your problem solving skills. You are not expected to come up with the perfect solution, but you do need to have good ideas to contribute and you do need to be able to explain your reasoning behind these ideas.
Finally you will need to show good communication and interpersonal skills. So make sure you speak clearly and you use appropriate body language; your tone is encouraging and pleasant; you speak neither too softly nor too loudly; your language is appropriate and people want to listen to you.
One extra tip I will add is to ensure you read through any instructions you’re given carefully. Even though you will be working under a time limit this is vital as it’s easy to misread question, particularly if you’re rushing.