Katherine Rowe

November 29, 2019, by Jackie Thompson

My Day at an Assessment Centre

By Katherine Rowe, BA History

Over my time at university, it became clear to me that I wished to pursue a career in either the public or the charity sector. This meant that I started looking at graduate schemes in the summer of my second year. 

When I came across the Local Government Association’s National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP) I knew it was something I would definitely be applying for.  

Preparing for the assessment day

As I had never been to an assessment centre before, I was quite nervous at the prospect and decided to speak to the Careers team to see if they had any hints or tips. 

I found that speaking to a careers adviser was extremely helpful in reassuring me that I was capable but also giving me little hints that I may have otherwise forgotten – such as remembering to wear a watch!  

My adviser also suggested I attend a mock assessment centre that they ran. I found this extremely useful for getting an idea of the kind of activities I might face and how to approach them. Funnily enough, one of the activities we did in the mock assessment centre was the same activity that I took part in at the NGDP day, simply with a different scenario!  

On the day

I was incredibly nervous before the assessment centre but it turned out I had no need to be. Everybody there was extremely welcoming and all the other candidates were very friendly! 

We were allocated three tasks to do throughout the day: 

1. A group task – the same activity we did in the mock assessment centre! It was fun but challenging to balance people’s views, especially as some people were quite talkative.  

2. A written exercise – this was surprisingly difficult as we were given a lot of information to write a report on and it was difficult to know what to prioritise.  

3. A presentation and Q&A – not as intimidating as it sounds. I had to present a fictional social care scenario to my ‘line manager’ and ‘local MP’ and then answer questions on it. While all the information I needed was in the brief, my background research into local government and current issues was definitely useful here.

I found myself being surprised by how much I had enjoyed the day. It had been a really interesting insight into the role of an NGDP graduate trainee and I had also enjoyed getting to know the other people at the assessment centre. 

Tips to someone attending an assessment centre:

Having attended two assessment centres and been offered a place at both, here are my tips which are useful for any assessment centre for any role.  

1. Be yourself but be the version of yourself that your mother would be proud of

2. These people do genuinely want to see the real you, but still make sure you’ve made an effort with your appearance, are polite and friendly and don’t spend the day on your phone 

3. Be organised 

4. Plan your journey in advance, make sure you leave plenty of time in case you become delayedAccessories such as a watch are also super helpful.   

5. Do your research – learn all about the role and sector you’re applying for as it will always come in handy  

6.The Careers team are really helpful – you can have an appointment with an advisor or attend a mock assessment centre 

7. Don’t worry about making mistakes

8. In my NHS assessment centre, I walked into my first task and accidentally threw my water bottle at my assessor (I still don’t know how!). It was super humiliating but I played it cool and still got the job 

Good luck! 

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