Career Development Service Learning Pack – Preparing for assessment centres

Overview The term assessment centre is usually used to describe a process not a place. The process involves a number of candidates completing a series of tests and job simulation exercises (written, group, one-to-one role plays etc.) assessed by multiple assessors. The reason a number of different assessors are used is to increase objectivity. Important competencies (or attributes), such as oral communication and analysing, are usually assessed in more than one exercise, as a result, no one exercise is ‘make or break’. This pack outlines some general tips for assessment centres and some of the different types of exercise you might encounter, giving you specific tips for approaching each type of exercise. Health warning! These tips are based on many years’ experience of design and delivery of assessment centres for a range of organisations. However each assessment centre is different so do follow the instructions and advice given at the particular centre you are attending. Preparation • Get plenty of sleep before the assessment centre, so you can be ‘at your best’. There is a limit to how much you can prepare, so sleep counts as good preparation! • Do consider feedback from previous assessment centres and interviews. What did you do well, that you would do again? What learning points did you identify for yourself? • If you have been through the Cranfield MBA assessment/development centre, looking at the marking guides will give you an understanding of the sorts of behaviours that are typically assessed. • Consider what you know about the organisation and what they will be looking to assess, e.g. refer to their values, person specification and competency framework if available. During the centre • For candidates the assessment days are usually quite intensive and tiring. However, if you feel one exercise has not gone very well, don’t be put off, just put it behind you and focus on the next one. • When being given instructions, do ask any questions if things are not clear. The exercises are designed to be stretching, and are usually conducted under tight time constraints, so don’t be overly worried if you have not done everything to the standard you might normally want to. • Assessors can only assess what they see and hear – so for group and one-to-one exercises, you need to make sure you say enough to give sufficient evidence. For written exercises, again note down as much of your thinking as you can.

2 Learning pack - Preparing for assessment centres

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