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Smashing The Assessment Centre

After completing your application form, an interview or two and perhaps some tests, there could be one more stage that you have to get through in the journey before you ultimately find out whether you’ve got the place on the apprenticeship programme or not… and here, I’m talking about the ASSESSMENT CENTRE! In this article in my “Journey to Becoming a Degree Apprentice” series, I will be answering these questions you may have:

🤔 What is an assessment centre and what could I be doing there?

🤔 What tips do you have for team exercises?

🤔 What tips do you have for micro exercises?

🤔 What tips do you have for interviews in an assessment centre?

🤔 What can I do outside the exercises in the assessment centre?

🤔 What Is an Assessment Centre and What Could I Be Doing There?

An assessment centre is where you go to the company building, a centre that the company has rented to use, or it could take place online, and you complete a series of activities which the company will mark you on. While you’re at the assessment centre, you’ll meet the other applicants who are going for the same role as you — but remember you are not competing against them! Exercises you may complete at the assessment centre could include a team-based exercise, small exercises testing skills such as prioritisation, and you could have another interview. The assessment centre could be for a half or full day, or possibly over multiple days.

🤔 What Tips Do You Have For Team Exercises?

In the team exercise, you may need to work together to decide on a collective solution to a given problem. This could be abstract from the job role, such as prioritising the equipment you would need if you were on a desert island. The problem could be work-based, such as deciding on the most appropriate solution to a problem based on numerous given solutions. Either way, this will put your teamwork skills to the test, because you will be part of a team when you are doing the apprenticeship, so they will be looking to see if you can work in one!

· 🗣 You DON’T Need to be the One Who Talks the Most

When you’re doing the team exercise, please please PLEASE remember that they’re not looking for who talks the most. Make sure you do contribute AND listen to others. It’s all about communication and making a decision together. You have to accept that a team decision does not always match what you personally want. If you notice that some people are not contributing, make sure you ask their thoughts to so their voice is heard, and they feel valued.

· ⏪ Changes of Plan…

During the team exercise, don’t be surprised if there has to be a sudden change of plan. The team could be flowing really well with one idea, but then something happens, and you aren’t able to follow through with it anymore. The company will be seeing how well you adapt to change because that’s what happens in industry! Progression of a project is not set in stone, other external factors can change the plan.

· ⏳ Keep an Eye on the Time

Make sure that there is also someone who is keeping track of time in the team exercise too. There may be numerous aspects of it, so make sure you give time for all stages in it. For example, if you have to do a presentation, make sure you have time to plan for this and decide what will be covered in it as well as deciding on a solution.

· 💭 Evaluate How the Team Did

It’s okay if the team exercise doesn’t turn out perfectly. At the end, the people who are observing you may ask you questions about what you thought went well and what could have been done better. Things don’t always go to plan in industry either, hence why we view it and generate actions for future projects. Don’t point fingers though, the chances are the company isn’t looking for employees who blame others. Blaming simply just doesn’t create a collaborative environment to work in.

🤔 What Tips Do You Have for Micro Exercises?

You may complete some small individual exercises when you are at the assessment centre, these can be referred to as micro exercises. In these, they will be looking at how you react under pressure with a time limit. You could prioritise tasks and resources, or you could be roleplaying to see how you would handle interactions with other people.

· 🤯 DON’T GET STRESSED!!!

Since the company will be looking at how you react under pressure, it is REALLY IMPORTANT you don’t get stressed! Try to remain calm. Getting stressed does not solve the problem and it won’t present you in a great light to the employer — there will be times in industry where you will be tight for time and under pressure, and you need to stay calm in those situations and focus on getting the job done.

· 🧐 It’s All About Justifications…

Think carefully about the choices you make in the exercises. There aren’t any right or wrong answers about what you choose, but you will need to justify why you chose to do something. This is why you also shouldn’t rush through the tasks either as you need to take care when you are completing work and doing it to the best of your ability, not fast, so you are able to provide logical justifications!

· 🤝 Bringing Up Delegation…

If you are asked to prioritise tasks, I believe it is okay to say that you would pass tasks on if completing all of them before a deadline would be unrealistic. This is because they are seeing how you would organise what you need to do in the real-world, and realistically speaking you aren’t always going to get everything you want to do done, and you would have to see if you can collaborate to be able to deliver to the customer and not stress yourself.

🤔 What Tips Do You Have For Interviews in an Assessment Centre?

You may have another interview in the assessment centre. Check out my interviews article for tips on conduct in interviews! With an interview in the assessment centre, there may not be as much preparation you need to do if you’ve already done an interview elsewhere in the application process but do make sure you have still done your research, so keep up to date with the company on their social media platforms and how they are impacting the industry.

🤔 What Can I Do Outside the Exercises in the Assessment Centre?

It is completely okay and normal to be nervous about going to the assessment centre, the company will be expecting that! Try your best to feel confident, and make sure to speak to the other applicants! Like I said, you’re not competing against them! There will be plenty of opportunities to speak to them because you won’t be in exercises 100% of the time. Getting to know other applicants when you’re in reception or at lunch will help you to feel more comfortable and settled because it’ll help to take your mind off the nerves a little bit, and you’ll be working with them in the group exercise as well! By getting to know those who you will be working with before you do the group exercise, it’ll be much less awkward, trust me! It’s also a fun opportunity to meet the people you could be working with!

One Final Note…

I hope this article has helped you if you are going to an assessment centre soon. I recall this was the stage that I was probably most nervous about in one of the application processes with it being the very last stage! That is why I really wanted to write an article dedicated to assessment centres to help give you an idea of what to expect and how to stand out. Feel free to leave any questions or thoughts in the comments below. If you are an apprentice or employer, I would really appreciate it if you could leave any advice regarding this topic too!

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