The assessment centre is now a fixture in the recruitment process for any graduate who wishes to gain entry to a blue chip company.
Assessment centres are extended selection procedures that last one or two days and take place at the employer’s premises or in a hotel. If you wish to join the IT department of any multinational or one of the big software or services suppliers, chances are you’ll be put through your paces at an assessment centre.
View from IBM
Andy Moverley, UK recruitment manager at IBM, say the computer services giant uses assessment centres to get the right match with the graduates it hires and also the students it places on its work experience programmes. The day consists of team exercises, interviews and presentations, which up to 25 graduates - who are applying for a variety of roles from sales to business consultant - attend.
"For our technical hires, we don’t look for any specific degree – we’re more interested in identifying potential. After all, graduates join a two-year training programme so we don’t expect the finished goods,” he says.
- Be yourself
- Take advantage of your university’s career services, which may offer specific advice on how to handle assessment centres
- Attend one of IBM’s mock assessment centres, hosted on campuses up and down the country.
Read IBM’s career advice for graduates
GlaxoSmithKline: the inside track
Pharmaceutical giant GSK provides this briefing to graduates attending their assessment centre.
The test is designed to help us assess how you would make decisions in the workplace.
Tip: Read the instructions carefully and make sure you understand the exercises before you begin.
The exercises demonstrate how you interact in a group and whether you work effectively in a team.
Tip: Don’t try to dominate the group; conversely, make sure you participate.
The role-play exercise will be based on a one-to-one meeting where you are asked to manage a situation that may arise as part of the job for which you are applying.
Tip: You’ll be assessed on how your approach the situation, the solutions you deliver and your communication style.
The in-tray exercise is designed to simulate a real work situation where you have lots of memos to respond to. We are interested in how you will respond to these memos, how you prioritise your workload and the decisions you make within a set time frame.
Tip: Manage your time carefully to complete the exercise
You may be a given a topic to prepare in advance of the assessment day or on the assessment day itself. The quality of the presentation content will be important but your communication skills and your own presenting style will also be assessed.
Tip: If you are asked to prepare, run through it as many times as possible, getting feedback from friends and family.
If you are applying for a technical role, you may be asked to prepare a case-study presentation on a particular topic.
Tip: Thoroughly read the brief, provide a technical answer within a business context, and think about your proposal as broadly as possible in the context of a pharmaceutical organisation.
Click here for further GSK career advice to graduates.
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