Career Development Service Learning Pack – Preparing for assessment centres

Types of exercises

Written exercises

Formats for these vary, but you may be given some information to read and analyse and then asked to produce a written response showing your interpretation of the information (and possibly recommendations). Sometimes you will be asked to give an oral presentation based on your analysis. Another common format is the ‘in-tray or E-tray exercise’. Here you will need to prioritise and recommend actions based on the issues contained within a (senior) manager’s in-tray or inbox. Competencies commonly assessed include: analysing, decision making, planning and organising and communication skills. • Keep an eye on the time and give yourself enough time to write your response (i.e. don’t spend too long reading). • Remember that someone else will need to be able to read and make sense of your response – so try and explain your thinking, make sure you have expressed things as clearly as possible and don’t assume they will know what you meant! • If you are running out of time (unless told otherwise in the instructions), then use bullet points/brief notes to get as much of your thinking down as possible. • If you have been given separate items of information, such as an in-tray exercise, make sure you do look at every piece of paper (even if only quickly), and see if there are any links between items. • Don’t get bogged down in one particular aspect of the information you are given (e.g. a table of figures) – give it some time, but not to the detriment of the whole exercise. Usually there will be several key aspects you will need to identify, through the whole exercise, and if you really can’t make sense of one part, it is best to get on with the rest of the exercise and then revisit if there is time. • When producing written communications, consider your audience and tailor accordingly, e.g. be tactful if writing a letter, and apply some structure (introduction, middle, summary) if asked to produce a report.

Learning pack - Preparing for assessment centres 3

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