assessment centre

April 30, 2018, by Carla Froggatt

How to Approach an Assessment Centre if You’re More Reserved

By Jen Balloch, Employability Education Projects Officer: Faculty of Science

Firstly, if you’re through to the assessment centre stage of the recruitment process, well done! That’s a big achievement in itself. Secondly, if the thought of attending an assessment centre fills you with dread then don’t worry, you are not alone.

There’s lot of advice online about what to expect at an assessment centre. For example, you can find tips on how to stand out, research what kind of activities to expect, and learn about handling social etiquette.

But what if you’re naturally more reserved or introverted? What can you do to ensure you shine during the process?

Be prepared to take part in group exercises

It is very likely that you will be asked to take part in a group exercise during the assessment centre. If you’re more reserved, it also likely this is something you’re not particularly looking forward to. However, understanding why employers ask you to do this can help you navigate the process with a little less trepidation. The main aim of group exercises is that it helps employers to assess various competencies. The competencies vary depending on the role you’re applying for, but one thing is certain, your ability to work as part of a team will be one of them.

Common advice about preparing for group exercises will encourage you to be assertive, while listening to the opinions of your group. While this is good advice, it might seem a little overwhelming if you’re naturally shy. You might even be thinking: “Okay, but how exactly do I do that?”

Remember, the group activity is about working as part of a team, communicating effectively, and working towards a common goal. With these skills in mind, try to plan a few ways that you will comfortable contributing. For example, you can demonstrate active listening skills by asking questions, or you can ensure that everyone understands the task objective, by suggesting a plan of action or offering to be the timekeeper. This task isn’t about who shouts the loudest, so being more reserved isn’t a negative.

The most important thing is that you say something. This way the assessor is able to make comments and review your performance. Play to your strengths, and don’t panic about taking your time to make a contribution.

It’s okay not to take the lead

It is likely that other students will naturally ‘take the lead’ during the group exercise. If this happens, you may find you are asked your opinion as part of another student’s attempt to include you in the discussion.

If you are put on the spot and haven’t quite formulated a full response, explain where you are up to in the thinking process to buy you more time. For instance, you could say: “I’m just making some notes about people’s suggestions so far, and thinking through a few ideas.” Alternatively, you could offer a rudimentary idea and then encourage others who may be more talkative to give feedback. This approach will demonstrate to the assessor how you process information and that you are actively listening to the discussions.

Delivering a presentation with confidence

Another common element of an assessment centre, is the presentation section. This can be nerve-wracking for the most confident student. Watch Luke’s top tips on staying calm and delivering a strong presentation here:

Finally, remember that the assessors generally aren’t looking for the pushiest students

They’re judging you on certain criteria that will help them recruit the most suitable candidates to their business. Try not to think of yourself as being in competition against other students, because you aren’t! In fact, a good strategy that could make you feel more comfortable is to identify potential allies who have shared similar viewpoints to you. Think of the process more as an exam where you are in competition with yourself.

If you would like further advice on what to expect at assessment centres,  book an appointment with a member of our team. There’s also lots of advice on our website, including specific information on case studies, presentations and group exercises

Interested in finding out even more? Check out these useful resources:

Posted in Applying for jobsFinal yearsInterviewsPenultimate yearsPostgraduate taught students