You’ve been selected for your dream job, you’ve sent that suit jacket to the dry cleaners, you’ve researched the company and you are fully confident, then you read the email again and the words “group assessment” fill you with dread. It’s all very well interviewing and not knowing who you are up against but to face your foes in an assessment centre feels like a corporate hunger games. So here are a few top tips as to what those assessors are looking for and how you can fight the competition (metaphorically speaking, violence is always a no no) and get ahead.
1. Take over
When faced with an assessment centre, there is always at least one person who feels like they are on an episode of the apprentice. Whilst it’s great to get your ideas across most employers don’t want someone who takes over, who dominates and who believes it’s their way or the high way. You may feel like you are being authoritative and assertive but if you are not giving anyone else the opportunity to speak then you just come across as controlling and out for yourself. Which ironically in an assessment centre you might think you need to be as you want the job but we are also looking for great team players. Think to yourself, am I behaving like someone I’d like to work with.
2. Be mean to your fellow interviewees
You want the job and you want to defeat the competition but remember this isn’t the Hunger Games meets America’s Next Top Model. If it was it would be much more entertaining for the assessors. You may be surrounded by people vying for one job and naturally there will be people that you instantly warm to and people that remind you of people that you don’t like, there will be others that perhaps you don’t even notice. Just check your behaviour, we say that bitchy side eye, that body language that turns your back on someone and the quick dismissal of someone’s ideas. Try and be nice and professional to all and try to be inclusive. Slyly putting someone down or making them look bad, you might think might make you look like your winning but really we will just think you are being mean. Who wants to work with mean people anyway eh?
3. Not say anything at all
You are filled with fear and everyone around you is so confident and good, so despite being selected you rule yourself out in your head. That Susan she’s going to get the job, she’s so loud and she’s worked on TV before they’ll love her. As those thoughts pace through your head, you dim your own shine to a point where you don’t say anything at all. Try and say something, trust your instincts and remember at this stage everyone is at a level playing field. Make notes of things you want to say if that makes it easier and find pauses in conversation to speak up.. even if you initially say, “I like what John just said” then that gets you going and gives you the confidence to go on.
4. Say too much
Nerves affect people in many different ways. If I’m nervous I tend to over talk or try to inject humour into a situation sometimes it’s appropriate sometimes it isn’t. Often when we are nervous we can just talk and talk and end up saying silly things or confuse what we are trying to say. So pause, be concise and remember it’s not a race to get everything about yourself out.
5. Name drop
I’ve seen this more frequently recently in assessments. People feel the need to say that their auntie works in TV or they know a certain celebrity or went to a certain school. It doesn’t always have to be a negative thing but ask yourself what is the relevance of this to the task at hand. You want to be seen as experienced and in the know but just because your auntie works in tv does that really mean you are the best person for the job? Or the fact that you went to school with Ellie Goulding might be great at a party but in an assessment centre if it’s not relevant then it just looks like showing off.
6. Not stick to the task
If you are asked to do a task read the questions and stick to the task. Don’t try and change the task to suit something that you know better. The assessors have asked you to do something for a reason and they will be assessing you on that. The more you divert from the task the more that it looks like you are not paying attention.
7. When you are supposed to be silent, chatting
This takes you back to school but when the assessor says work on your own in silence for the first ten minutes that is what they mean. They will ask you if you have any questions before this, so ask then. You might think it’s fine to chit chat with the person next to you but we can all see you and it’s not cool.
8. Ask questions to the assessors that aren’t relevant
It’s fine to ask questions about the assessment but make sure you’ve read all the information given to you. If the answer you want is right on the paper in front of you then it looks like you are not great at paying attention to detail. Also you might think it’s fine to ask questions that are personal to the assessors, I had one person mention that they’d seen me at a karaoke bar. Now I was probably slaying a Celine cover but that wasn’t that relevant to that day. People also panic about things that might happen if they are offered the job. Get through this stage first and then we can deal with that.
9. Make fun of the task
You might think the task is too short, not relevant, beneath you but don’t openly mock it. That’s really disrespectful. Don’t say “oh I felt like you would want more from me and I’m a bit disappointed”.. well love you’ll be more disappointed when you don’t get the job. Don’t giggle about it with the other candidates or say it’s shit (this has happened) as we generally can hear that.
10. Don’t be cliquey
You may bond with people more than others and you may know someone already there, but don’t forge allegiances at the expense of other people. Be inclusive not exclusive. You may meet a new friend or a new lover but keep your mind on the task at hand. You are looking to get a job not a tinder date (although if you are very lucky you might get both).