Make your voice heard at Assessment Centres

A few years back I was able to observe a group exercise taking place on a selection day for the Civil Service Fast Stream graduate programme.  The small group of applicants (all final year students from a variety of universities) were given a case study to discuss and an issue to resolve within a specified time, with assessors observing the applicants.  There was one female in the group.  I couldn’t see her from where I was sitting, and I couldn’t hear her either because she rarely contributed to the discussion, and when she did, her voice wasn’t loud enough.  That applicant did not impress the assessors as a result.

Now, I am not advocating that you shout if you find yourself in a group exercise during an assessment centre.  However, if you know you have a soft voice, whether you are male or female, think about how you can raise the volume just a bit.  Maybe practice this so that you find a level that you feel comfortable with, and that you know will be heard in a discussion without sounding too loud or too aggressive.  You could record yourself or try it out with friends and get their feedback.

Also review whether you make clear and positive contributions to group discussions, and work on this if you feel you need to develop this ability.    There are resources, like books, on effective team working and being assertive.  There is a useful, concise article from the University of Kent’s careers service here. This covers the different roles that team members might fulfill in a group discussion – and a questionnaire to help you identify the role that might suit you.

Don’t forget that we can help you prepare for group exercises and assessment centres, as well as other stages of job selection.  Check out the resources on our website, including a career guide covering the basics of assessment centres and a DVD.  Go to  www.city.ac.uk/careers – select Access Resources,  then Access the Careers Hub to reach the page with our Search Resources option.




How not to fail employers’ tests

Hands up anyone who hasn’t done well in a test recently.  If you just put your hand up, you can put it down now – thank you – and console  yourself that you are not alone.  Feedback from our employer contacts tells us that City University students don’t always reach the required levels in tests used in selection. For example, 0f 252 City University applicants to a major graduate recruiter last year, 107 were rejected after the test stage.

Maybe those students will never be able to reach required levels.  If so, simple solutions include looking for jobs with employers who don’t use tests or who don’t set such high levels of attainment.

However, if you haven’t performed well in a selection test, just consider for a moment whether you prepared well enough beforehand.  Did you try out a few practice tests online before you did the real thing?  Assessment Day has a range of different practice tests, many of them free, with answers provided too.   Did you think about the kind of questions you might be asked and go back over some of  your  old skills?  For example, many numerical reasoning tests include percentages, ratios, fractions and currency conversions.  If these are a distant memory get your old school books out, start chewing on the end of your pencil and try a few calculations.   Or try sources like the Open University’s Skills for Study.

Don’t forget we often run practice test sessions – look on the events listing on our website.   Continue Reading