Katherine Knowles

August 18, 2022, by Jackie Thompson

What Assessment Centres Involve and How To Navigate Them

By Katie Knowles, MSc Clinical and Molecular Microbiology graduate

Before I delve into what assessment centres are like, I want to share some background information on myself. I have a part-time job currently and yet I have never made a CV or had an interview.

To prepare for these daunting tasks, I went to the Careers team and signed up for their Career Mentoring scheme and now I’ve had the chance to have ‘mock’ interviews and get my CV reviewed. I can’t recommend them enough!

How I found out that I would have an assessment centre day

After scouring LinkedIn and applying for a lot of jobs (and hearing nothing back from them), I found a medical communications graduate scheme offered by ApotheCom, a medical communications company. I was particularly lucky and received an email just two days later asking if I was available for an assessment centre day the following week and if I’d like to chat with the hiring manager beforehand.

Now, here comes my first piece of advice; if someone from a company wants to have a ‘chat’ with you they will most likely ask you interview questions. To prepare read the company’s website; look at their values and what they do. I was asked why I wanted to join their company and scenario questions to judge my skills, and afterwards, it turned into a conversation about the assessment centre.

This assessment centre was online so I already felt comfortable as I would be in my own home. I had a writing task and presentation to prepare beforehand.

The assessment centre

Before the assessment day, I re-read the company’s website, practised interview questions with friends, and I made sure to complete the preparation tasks.

The assessment day itself started with the presentation task in front of two team members, so it was a lot more relaxed than presenting in front of the other candidates. While waiting for our presentation time, everyone was given an independent task to come up with names for a webinar series.

Afterwards, we got to speak with some people currently on the scheme and find out what it’s like first-hand before a group task. I was dreading this the most, but it turned out to be my favourite part of the day!

We were grouped into fours and were given a NASA scenario about crash landing on Mars. We had to discuss what items, from a pre-approved list, would be needed and put them in priority order.  It was included to see how we would work in a group and look for people that would take the lead and also see if you would listen and co-operate.

Just embrace it!

The day itself was a fun and interesting experience. My main advice is don’t panic and just be yourself! The company want you to enjoy it, they want to see what you’re like as a person and how you would fit into their company, so just throw yourself into it.

Find out more about assessment centres and how to research companies. Check out our events programme for workshops on assessment centres, interviews and other aspects of the recruitment and selection process used by employers.

Posted in Applying For JobsInterviews