The thought of assessment centres can be frightening, and if you’ve never attended one before, you probably won’t know where to start. As stressful as they sound, an assessment centre can actually be quite a productive and fun-filled day, and with the right preparation, there are ways to breeze through it like a pro.
So, to help you go from jobseeker to wage earner, we’ve gathered these 12 essential assessment centre tips for you.
1. Eat Healthily
You are what you eat – we've heard that one before. But it’s especially true for your assessment centre day.
Maintain that healthy glow, be full of energy (not too much, of course) and avoid feeling sluggish and worn out on the big day by sticking to a healthy diet. In the days leading up to assessment day, cut out the junk, reduce your caffeine intake and strive to stick to high-energy, nutritious and brain-boosting foods. And make sure to have a good, balanced breakfast on the morning of your assessment day to improve your concentration and productivity levels for the day ahead.
2. Get Enough Sleep
You don’t want to turn up to your assessment day with bags under your eyes and no energy. So, make sure to catch up on sleep to ensure that you’re not only looking revitalised but feeling it, too. Walking around like a sloth won’t get you very far, especially while your assessors are watching and analysing your every move!
Get to bed on time and get at least eight hours of sleep to ensure optimal performance and problem-solving skills on the day.
3. Build an Exercise Routine
Assessment centres can be nerve-wracking but sitting around worrying about it won’t help. Instead, pick yourself up and diminish any stress and anxiety by maintaining an exercise routine. Not only will physical activity before the big day reduce your stress levels but it will also boost your overall energy and improve your mood.
Indeed, exercise stimulates brain cells that make you feel happier, more relaxed and less anxious. Enough physical activity can also boost your confidence, helping you to maintain a self-assured attitude on the big day, which can ultimately impress those assessors.
4. Dress to Impress
In the same way that you would dress for a job interview, make sure to look professional on the day of your assessment. You need to act and look as though you’re already an employee at the company, so select an outfit that truly reflects the role.
Although comfort is also very important, the general consensus of looking professional includes a suit and tie for men and a pencil skirt and formal blouse for women.
Your outfit will ultimately depend on the kind of position you’re applying for and your own personal taste. Just don’t turn up in cargo shorts and a T-shirt. And ladies, don’t even think about wearing those stilettos!
5. Do Your Research
On the day of your assessment, you’ll be asked to simulate different aspects of the company’s work environment. To ensure you don’t mess this up or make a fool of yourself, make sure you research the company beforehand. Try to understand its goals, adopt its vision and learn its objectives by researching through their website, social media pages and any materials they may have sent you during the recruitment process.
Have a good grasp of the role you’re applying for – what skills and qualities is the company looking for? Be prepared to demonstrate these abilities at the assessment centre. This way, you’ll sail through any presentations or group exercises.
6. Prepare for Surprises
Assessment centres come with plenty of surprises. Employers want to catch you off guard to test your organisational and time management skills. They want to see if you work well under pressure. You might be faced with a spontaneous interview, or you could be asked to prepare an unexpected presentation on a particular topic.
Whatever the case, your performance and behaviour will be analysed through exercises such as these, so it’s vital that you prepare yourself in advance.
Activities you might be faced with include:
- aptitude tests
- in-tray or e-tray exercises
- group exercises
- written exams
- case studies
- social activities.
7. Get Ready for Activities in Advance
At some point during your assessment, you’re going to have to introduce and ‘sell’ yourself. Prepare your elevator pitch beforehand and practise it in front of friends.
It’s also wise to jot down a few notes for impromptu presentations. Common topics usually involve ‘the best day of my life was…’ and ‘my favourite things to do are…’. If you know what the presentation topic will be, prepare and polish it beforehand and ensure its timing is perfect. Your communication and research skills will be most looked at here, so try to keep things simple, organised and clear.
8. Practise Psychometric Tests
A popular exercise at assessment centres is taking a psychometric test. These tests are designed so that employers can evaluate your intelligence, skills and personality. In other words, yes, your future boss is trying to get inside your mind. But fear not; these tests aren’t as intimidating as they sound. In fact, there are several tests online that you can practise before the big day.
The tests you might face include:
- numerical reasoning tests
- verbal reasoning tests
- diagrammatic / logical reasoning tests
- situational judgement tests.
Before the day, find out what kind of test you’ll be taking by asking the employer. There are various types of psychometric tests by the likes of SHL, Kenexa, Saville, Talent Q and even our very own CareerHunter. To truly nail this part of your assessment, take a practice test a few days before to help you prepare for the real thing and, hopefully, you’ll score highly on the day.
9. Follow Instructions Carefully
On the day of your assessment, you’ll be asked to participate in several (expected and unexpected) exercises to measure your skills, competencies and overall suitability for the job.
To ensure your performance is on track throughout these tasks, make sure to read and follow the instructions to a T. You want to prove to the assessors that you’ve got what it takes to get the job, so before diving into an exercise, read the requirements carefully. Don’t skim and scan; read through the guide thoroughly, and if you need help with something, don’t be afraid to ask. This is your career on the line, remember, so try not to rush – take your time and avoid making needless mistakes that could cost you the role.
10. Ace the Interview
Assessment centres usually involve one or more interviews, ranging from individual to group interviews. Even if you’ve already had one before your assessment, always prepare yourself for other interviews on the day.
There are several interview tips out there, but one of the most important is to avoid tension. Try not to let stress get the best of you, and combat those interview nerves by practising beforehand and, of course, believing in yourself.
11. Be Friendly and Cooperative
Your employer will be keeping an eye on you during group tasks to see whether your social skills are up to scratch. During these sessions, you’ll be tasked to have discussions or debates around specific case studies related to the job in question.
Participate openly, don’t be afraid to ask questions and offer a helping hand to anyone who looks unsure. Be open to other ideas and suggestions, and don’t forget to make the odd compliment, too.
And remember: a break at assessment centres isn’t really a break. In fact, during this time, you’ll still be monitored for social behaviour and personality. So, while you’re snacking on that sandwich, continue to mingle and interact, all the while maintaining professionalism.
12. Be Confident and Avoid Negativity
Nobody likes a Negative Nancy, especially in the workplace.
Prove yourself a positive person with a willingness to succeed during your assessment, and you’ve already ticked several boxes. It’s important that you show an aura of confidence and leadership throughout the day, but make sure you avoid being too critical and refrain from arguing.
Employers will spot someone who knows how to take the lead and shows enthusiasm and self-knowledge. That said, too much confidence can make you come across as arrogant or egocentric, so just be yourself and, most importantly, don’t forget to smile.
Your potential employers are going to use every trick in the book to delve deep in your mind to unravel your personality and professional skills. So, to prepare yourself for the big assessment day, keep our 12 essential tips in mind.
Don’t forget to let us know how your big day goes in the comments section below!