As exciting/terrifying as they might sound, assessment days are actually nothing to get worked up about. In reality, an assessment day will usually involve a series of tests, exercises and interviews designed to suss out whether you’ve got the right skills and attributes for a school leaver programme.
An assessment day is also a chance for you to find out more about the company and figure out if you would enjoying working there. Unfortunately, assessment days are no walk in the park, which is why we’ve put together some tips on how best to tackle them…
If we had to choose one tip above all others, it’d be do your preparation. You’ll find the assessment day far easier to handle if you’ve done your research into the company and the school leaver programme, and got a clear idea of the kind of competencies they are looking for. You should also try and find out as much as possible about what the assessment day will involve and have a go at some practice tests and interviews. If you have to give a presentation, make sure you’ve prepared for it in advance.
"I have a question..."
As part of your preparation, have a think of some questions you might want to ask about the company and the school leave programmes, i.e. things that you can’t easily find out about on their website. Companies also use assessment days to tell candidates more about the organisation, so listen up during information sessions.
The early bird catches the worm...
Don’t be late. Make sure you know where the assessment day is taking place and allow plenty of time to get there. Turning up halfway through the day won’t exactly make the best impression.
Dress to impress...
By that, we don’t mean don a skin-tight dress and skyscraper heels, but make sure you look the part. An assessment day is basically a souped-up version of a job interview, so you’ll need to don some formal interview wear. If you’re in doubt, you could always find out what the company will be expecting candidates to wear.
Drink water. (yes, we're serious).
However hyped up and/or nervous you are about the assessment centre, it can be easy to lose concentration on the day. There might be a long slog of exercises, social events and interviews, so you’ll need to try and keep your energy levels up and remain focused.
Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated and try to approach every exercise and interview like it’s the first. Make sure you always get stuck in to the exercises and pay close attention to any instructions.
Hit me with your best shot(s)...
The thing we love about assessment centres is that they fly in the face of Eminem’s Lose Yourself. Nope, Mr Slim Shady, you don’t “only get one shot”, but multiple shots to prove yourself. If you feel like you’ve messed up in a test or exercise, don’t worry. You’ll have another chance to knock their socks off in the other exercises or interviews.
Know your company
We’ve touched on this before, but it does really help to have an idea of what the recruiters are looking for in candidates. Employers will usually give a clear idea about the kind of qualities they are looking for in the literature they publish about the school leaver programme. Your challenge will be to demonstrate these competencies during the assessment day.
Professional friendships, please!
Social situations aren’t the time to get super hyper or overly chummy with employees of the company (they probably won’t appreciate you giving them nicknames). Be friendly and sociable, but don’t do anything you might regret in the cold light of day.
The perks of not being a wallflower
Don’t take a backseat during group exercises. These are the opportunities that you’ll really want to shine in, as they quite often reflect real-life working situations. Employers will be assessing your teamwork and leadership skills, amongst other things, so make sure you get involved.
Don't hit the panic button!
Assessment days are nothing to panic about. It’s not all pain, no gain. Companies don’t just want to get a sense of your skills; they’ll also want to get a better sense of who you are. So don’t be afraid to be yourself and let your personality shine through. Try to relax. Who knows, you might even enjoy yourself.