Assessment centres are used by many employers when recruiting graduates and each employer will have their own specific structure and exercises. The benefits for us as the recruiter is that we have the opportunity to see how you perform in particular scenarios and understand how you could potentially contribute to the business. The benefit for you as a potential employee is the opportunity to meet a range of senior managers from across the business and understand more about the company’s culture.
In Musgrave, we will have a maximum of 12 applicants at any one assessment centre so you’re not an anonymous face in a crowd. Our assessment centres are function specific and only graduates being considered for that function will be invited to attend on the day i.e. if you are invited to our Supply Chain assessment centre, you are only being considered for a role in the Supply Chain Programme.
Assessment centre activities can vary from a practical exercise to group discussions to analytical presentations. All of these activities are typically based on material given to you on the day so you can’t prepare the content in advance. In addition to a group or practical exercise, you will be interviewed at the Musgrave Assessment Centre.
In preparing for an assessment centre, you can consider what competencies the recruiters may be looking at in each activity and be conscious of your contributions in the exercise. Competencies are desirable qualities for particular roles such as: communication skills; strategic thinking; drive; creative thinking, resilience, etc. Take the example of a group discussion. Assessors will be interested in understanding how you contribute to group decision making and will assess you on both your interpersonal interactions as well as how you manage the information. You can find out more about the competencies that we are looking for here.
The best advice we can give you before starting an assessment centre is to focus on being the best version of yourself on the day. Sometimes candidates can get caught up with nerves and focus on competing with others on the day. Competition can be good for you but not to the extent that you forget the overall objective – that is to demonstrate your ability to a potential employer. Knowing the company’s values and industry practice can also inform your approach in the assessment centres.
Interviews are a core step in the selection process and there is a lot you can do to prepare in advance. Graduate Programmes are focused on hiring for potential. We understand you may not have extensive work experience right now. Focus on the skills you do have from your experiences in work/college/sports and how you can demonstrate these to us.
Interviews will usually focus on a review of your CV before leading into competency-based/behavioural questions. These are questions such as “Tell us about a time where you worked as part of a team?” or “give us an example of where you made a mistake?” As interviewers, these questions allow us to understand how you behaved in the past which can help us predict how you may behave in future.
When asked an open question like that, it can be tempting to waffle on in very general terms. Instead think about STAR. STAR is a recommended method of talking about your experience so that interviewers can get all the information they need in a logical sequence.
Situation: Set the context of your example (where, when, who, etc.)
Task: What did you have to do? Remember this is about you, not the rest of your team so be clear about what your role was.
Action: What did you do to respond to the task? Be clear about what actions you took to complete this.
Result: What was the end result of your actions? Was it successful or not? What did you learn? Did anything change as a result? Were there measurable results?
Our Top Tips
- You are there to be assessed, it’s in the name! We can only assess competencies based on the evidence we see on the day so participate fully in all activities.
- If one activity doesn’t go your way, shake it off and move to the next activity. We assess across all activities on the day.
- Review the competencies we are looking for and what examples you can show to demonstrate these competencies.
- Be familiar with your CV and be prepared to talk about your previous work experience and what you have learned e.g. customer service, organisation skills, event management and so on.
- If you’re not clear on what’s being asked, ask the interviewer to clarify it rather than answering the wrong question.
- Be passionate (or at least interested!) in the job and industry for which you have applied. Assessors will spot someone just going through the motions.
- Find a technique that works for you to calm any nerves.
- When completing activities virtually, make sure you will be in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and that you have a good internet connection. Use virtual backgrounds if you believe that your background may be distracting.