The Future of Graduate Assessment Centres – Assessment by immersion?



EYRecently, I went to an event to hear about the latest thinking on assessment centres run by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR). Many blue chip employers were present. We heard how tired many companies are of hearing the same old answers to competency-based questions that are often trotted out by well prepped graduates. So – you can see why it’s in your interest to bring some variety to your replies! As well as this, we heard that although 70% of students attending assessment centres were positive about their experience, the remaining 30% – a large number- were left feeling negative about the company involved. So as employers don’t want bad press, employers are now trying to figure out ways they can improve on graduates’ experience at assessment centres.

A few years back, EY commissioned Capp (the leading strengths-based assessment, product and platform specialists) or more simply put- a leading firm of business psychologists-to redesign their recruitment system, in particular their interviews with graduates, to make them less predictable and more relevant. Since then, EY have operated a strengths-based interviewing approach which  has resulted in a better match of candidates who meet EY’s needs. Whilst I’m talking about strengths, it’s a good idea to take the Strengths Test on the EY Facebook page to get an instant print out of your strengths and skills.  https://www.facebook.com/EYUKcareers/app_219886381467405  Microsoft

Now Microsoft has employed CAPP to change their assessment centres to be much more engaging/immersive. Like EY, Microsoft felt that  candidates’ replies were highly rehearsed. They also felt that they were not getting what they wanted in terms of diversity. Microsoft wanted the selection process to be based on candidates’ potential rather than background /past experience, so to level the playing field and end any adverse impact of their assessment process. So now the entire Microsoft selection process is strengths-based.

Assessment centres at Microsoft are now more unexpected, with candidate-driven content and 100% non-technical content. One example – there is a ‘Strengths Fair’ where candidates visit individual tables that measure a particular strength or quality. e.g Curiosity, with items on a table to respond to. A whistle is blown when they have to move on. Seemed fun to me. And Microsoft have have received very positive feedback about their new style assessment centres. So be warned! Be prepared for the unpredictable.

Question is – is this a sign of things to come?

Antonia Clark

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