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Assessment centre. If there are two words that can strike fear (or confusion) into the heart of any jobseeker, it’s these.

Perhaps you haven’t yet experienced the assessment centre method of recruiting. Or maybe you have, and you’re wondering how to survive your next encounter with it! Either way, we’re here to help.

Today I’ll be taking you through exactly what an assessment centre is, how to prepare for it, and how to stand out amongst other applicants.

Let’s dive in!

What is an assessment centre?

An assessment centre is an alternative to the standard interview method usually used in the recruitment process. It may be used in place of, or in addition to, a one-on-one interview. The assessment centre process involves multiple job candidates coming together to complete a variety of exercises and tasks, overseen by professional assessors.

The exercises undertaken in an assessment centre are designed to replicate tasks and aspects of the real-life work environment. Usually occurring over a half-day or full-day session, the exercises provide an opportunity for assessors to evaluate you and your fellow candidates in terms of your suitability for the role. Your skills, approach to the exercises and social compatibility in a professional setting will all be taken into account.

Most assessment centres use a standard rating scale. Each candidate is given a rating for the competencies demonstrated through each activity. At the end of the session, the assessors will come together to compare and discuss the candidates’ results.

Activities you may undertake in an assessment centre include:

  • Group discussions
  • Group interviews
  • Team-focused tasks
  • Role-playing
  • Aptitude/personality tests

Why do some employers use assessment centres?

The main benefit of the assessment centre approach, as opposed to a regular interview, is to give employers a chance to see potential new recruits ‘in action’. An interview is fairly limited in its ability to provide a practical demonstration of a candidate’s skills, abilities, social tendencies and general approach to work. But in an assessment centre situation, employers can get a much better idea of a candidate’s way of working and ability to do the job.

There are also benefits for jobseekers, too. The assessment centre can help give you a better idea of what the role involves, what your potential employer expects from their staff, and what it might be like to work for them. It also gives you the chance to better demonstrate your skills and abilities in a practical setting. Plus, the experience and feedback you gain from participating in an assessment centre can also be invaluable in your personal development and future jobseeking.

Tips for surviving the assessment centre

Now you know what an assessment centre is and how the process works, it’s time to get into some tips for surviving the experience! And not just survive, but stand out amongst other applicants and give yourself the best chance at landing the job.

  • Be prepared. Undertake the same preparation you would for any regular job interview. You can’t really ‘study’ for the tasks you’ll undertake, but you can (and should) still do your research and learn what you can about the company and the requirements of the role.
  • Be enthusiastic. Participation is key in the assessment centre, so make sure you give it your all and take part enthusiastically in every task and exercise.
  • Be a good listener. Demonstrate your ability to listen, both to the instructions from the assessors and to your fellow candidates. Pay careful attention, follow instructions and don’t argue or talk over people.
  • Be a team player. Cooperation and teamwork are key skills assessors will be looking for, so be sure to demonstrate your ability to work harmoniously with fellow ‘colleagues’ as part of a team.
  • Be yourself. Don’t try to be anything you’re not, or act in a certain way you think the assessors want to see. Let your personality, experience and individual strengths shine through.

Be calm. Like any job interview, going through the assessment centre can be a nerve-wracking process. But just remember that every other candidate is in the same boat as you, probably feeling just as (if not more) nervous! Do your best to stay calm throughout the process. Don’t panic; just take things one step at a time, and you’ll be fine.

For more information about the assessment centre process, contact me on alissa.bower@gwgpartners.com.au or give me a call on 0411 043 537.

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