Assessment Centres have been used for some time in graduate recruitment. It makes sense: candidates are invited to take part in group exercises and discussions that are relevant for the job, and recruiters look out for the skills on their wish list by observing the candidates in action.
In the last few years, Assessment Centres have transcended the areas of business, finance, etc and started to be more common in recruitment for health-related professions. Continue Reading
Recently, 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
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 Continue Reading
Mark Ranganathan graduated in Mathematics from City this year. He recently attended a Mock Assessment Centre facilitated by one of the careers consultants at CityCareers. Mock assessment centres are suitable for students of all disciplines and are a good way of building your confidence before going to the real thing. Mark comments:
The Mock Assessment Centre highlighted the importance of effective team work, communication, organisation and presentation skills in a work environment. I, along with other participants, took part in a group task, where we had to discuss a project in groups and present our ideas to an audience. Our performances in the group task were evaluated by our peers.
The Mock Assessment Centre had the feel and atmosphere of a real Assessment Centre. I benefitted a lot from it as I learned about which areas were my strengths and which areas I needed to improve on. Therefore, it gave me a better idea on how to perform in future assessment centres and what is expected of candidates.
I strongly recommend Mock Assessment Centres to people who are either preparing for real assessment centres or want to understand their strengths and weaknesses in this context.
Careers consultants at City will be offering more of these Mock Assessment Centres next term. CityCareers also bring in employers to run mock assessment centres at City. To search for mock assessment centres and to book a place, go to http://www.city.ac.uk/careers/for-students-and-recent-graduates/events
Written by Jazmin Curzon, IBM UK Schools & Universities Attraction Co-ordinator
So you’ve completed the application form and online test and now you’ve been invited to the assessment centre.
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.
Some time ago this piece of news caught my attention.
This caught my eye for the following reasons:
- This hero is Spanish, like me!
- This hero has achieved instant glory by coming out of competition mode for the sake of supporting others Continue Reading
Summer is upon us (finally!), and we have had a heated start to the month for our Snapshotters*!
Key words of the month: Snapshotters’ Challenges!
Unfamiliar with this phenomenon? Not to worry!
In a nutshell, our Snapshotters’ Challenges were designed to give a competitive edge to the Snapshot Scheme and allow the students to gain points for their commitment, enthusiasm, and overall engagement during the Scheme. These take form as sessions which challenge (hence the name!) our Snapshotters and help them develop and work on their employability skills. The person with the highest ranking will ultimately get a personalised reference from Gary, our Head of Careers – not too shabby, eh?
As part of our Snapshotters’ Challenge, the students on the Scheme attended some tailored sessions that aimed to develop their commercial awareness, presentation skills and interview skills, and that have given them exposure to a variety of selection tools used by employers in their recruitment.
Our final Challenge was a mock assessment centre, which was run in collaboration with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and FDM Group. Our guest employers were very impressed with the high calibre of students at City University London, and vowed to be back on campus in the next academic year for similar events!
Demonstrating commercial awareness is vital for whatever sector you are hoping to go into – law, technology, politics, health, for example, not just business. Yet every year, graduate recruiters frequently tell me that graduates lack commercial awareness at interview or assessment centres. I find this too when I carry out mock interviews and assessment centres with students at City. Questions like“What do you think are some of the key issues affecting our sector at the moment”? or “Give me an example of an article or programme which has interested you recently” (a typical question to test how you keep youself up to date with sector issues) are frequently met with blankness or hesitation with lots of ums and ers!
Of course an internship, placement, or voluntary work experience is the ideal way of gaining or dveloping commercial awarness, but a lot can be achieved by thoroughly researching specific organisations you are interested in and keeping up to date with the sector in general. There are lots of ways of doing this, but a good start can be finding out about organisation’s culture, values and goals via their website and signing up for their newsfeeds. Some professional bodies also provide good resources to develop commercial awareness. The ACCA (Association of Certified Chartered Accountants) has excellent podcasts on its dedicated graduate website about how to develop your Continue Reading
In my previous blog I discussed the value of looking at things from the other person’s point of view, and in particular, how understanding what makes employers tick might help you when you are thinking about how to engage with them.
The assessment centre is a perfect example of engaging with an employer, and of course it tends to happen at a time when you want to make the best possible impression on the company that you hope will hire you. So how can putting yourself in another person’s shoes help you to perform at your best on the day? Continue Reading
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.
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