28 March 2024

On the Other Side of an Assessment Centre

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If you told me that eight months into my placement year, I’d be on the other side of the application process interviewing, assessing and meeting potential candidates to take my place in July… I would’ve laughed in your face. 

Well, here we are? Last month I assessed eight people for the job. What were my key takeaways you ask?

Here are six things I picked up on that you should try doing at your assessment centre!

Be in the moment

Forget about your phone! 

The best thing you can do on the day is make the most out of the process. Make conversation with as many people as possible. Doing this will…

  1. Settle your nerves 
  2. Allow you to get to know the people you could potentially be working for in the future!

Even while you’re waiting for your interview or presentation, your interviewers will still be looking at how you can communicate with others – so be sociable and make friends with your fellow candidates!

We know what you’re thinking, that would totally be out of your comfort zone but don’t worry we have some tips for you!

Be confident and authentic 

We know, we’ve all been there, out of your comfort zone and instantly forgetting everything you’ve prepared. Believe it or not, nerves are actually good. 

Don’t let them stop you from being your best self. 

The reality is that employers aren’t going to expect you to have a ton of work experience or even be uber confident in your interviews.

For many students, this will be one of their very first formal interviews, so don’t stress you are not the only one 🙂

Hear from some of RateMyPlacement’s finest as they give you tips on how to prep yourself the day before an assessment centre. (Very cool jacket is not included, sorry!)

Read the brief thoroughly 

Yes, this is an obvious one… most assessment centres require you to come prepared with a presentation about a certain topic!

This could be a marketing brief or a sales pitch for example. Where you’ll be given around 2 weeks to come up with as many well rounded ideas as possible and make a slide deck to go with them.

Read the brief carefully so that you hit every point perfectly. This is your chance to show the employer what you can do without the pressure of being observed while preparing it. 

This is an important one to get right as it sets a first impression for your work ethic and ability to listen to instructions. So if it states to email the presentation 24 hours before the assessment centre… do it!

Don’t just take it from us take it from past placement students as well:

“Ask questions that you are curious about to show your interest and include information from the job application”

Accounting Intern at Enterprise Mobility

“Do not be afraid to be yourself and demonstrate that you are willing to work hard, be creative and think outside the box”

Associate Placement at Wiser

Prepping for an assessment centre soon? Read our Top Tips to placement interviews and assessment centres

Don’t go on a tangent 

The job description is like a little sweet treat for your career journey… they provide little clues as to what the ideal candidate looks like to the employer. 

During an interview, the employer will be looking out for key skills that have been clearly stated in the job description, make sure you look over this before your assessment centre and use the STAR technique to avoid rambling! 

These skills may include: 

  • Communication skills 
  • Problem solving 
  • Team work 
  • Time management 

Are you thinking, I totally have all of these skills? Make sure to include these within your interview answers along with EVIDENCE of when you’ve shown them. Such as your teamwork and communication skills you used on the BUSIEST hospitality shift of your life, anything you’ve completed or achieved will have shown you doing multiple skills, don’t overcomplicate it.

It’s also important during your interview to be completely honest, even down to not understanding the question for example.

 â€śNever EVER lie. Don’t even embellish. If you lack some skills, highlight these as points you seek to improve. You will have plenty of other positive skills that will show an employer your potential”

Hear from Industry experts

It’s so important to be transparent during the application process for the best chances of success in your new role!

Feeling a bit lost in your application journey? Don’t worry you aren’t alone. For some relatable reassurance read A Placement Student’s Experience of The Application Process.

Stand out!

If your assessment centre presentation brief was like the one we sent out, it will include key actions you can do to really impress us! So why wouldn’t you take that advice? 

Think outside the box, what can you include into your presentation that other candidates won’t have thought of?

Here’s a few examples of how you can stand out in your presentation!

  • Conducting your own research through surveys to back up your points (I did this one)
  • Printing assets to hand out – such as flyers or posts (dependant on brief)
  • Going the extra mile to make the presentation fit the branding
  • Making the presentation super interactive for the audience.

If you’re still stuck, reach out to lecturers, university professors or ask previous placement students for more insight.

Show excitement

We want to see enthusiasm! 

For any role this is crucial, but this rings a little bit louder when applying for an internship or placement. Your passion and excitement for the role needs to make up for your lack of experience.

Employers will generally be looking for someone who can work well in a team, bring new ideas forward and is eager to learn everything about their new role.

If you don’t show your excitement and enthusiasm, it may affect your chances of getting a job offer.

So make sure you fully prepare to give yourself the best chance of success and to show who you really are instead of stressing about what you are going to say.

Still applying for placements, but wondering what your day could potentially look like, read our A Day in the Life of a Marketing Placement Student for more insight!

I know it’s easier said than done, but you are gonna SMASH IT and even if you don’t get it the first time, the experience and feedback will be invaluable to you for your next try! 

Just relax, take a breath and be your best self.

Good luck!