Assessment days (also called assessment centers) allow companies to assess candidates over an extended period of time, whilst offering candidates the chance to find out about an employer in greater detail. An assessment day also usually provides an opportunity for a candidate to meet with current employees at a firm. Assessment days can be long, time consuming and highly mentally demanding.
What is an Assessment Day?
An "assessment day" is an important part of the recruitment process for many employers. As the name suggests, it is a period of extended assessment that usually lasts for the best part of a day, and occasionally, two, or even three days). A well structured assessment day is generally considered to be amongst the fairest and most objective means of selecting employees for jobs, particularly graduate jobs.
This is because they give a number of different interviewers a chance to assess candidates over an extended period of time, enabling assessors to see what you can do, rather than what you say you can do, in a wide variety of situations.
Where do Assessment Days take place?
Assessment days are usually take place at employer's offices, although some firms use third party organisations to run their assessment days. For two and three day assessment days, some employers use hotels to run their assessment activities, hiring function rooms and paying for rooms and meals for candidates.
What happens at an Assessment Day?
Assessment days require you to participate in a number of individual and group exercises. The exact tasks involved are designed to replicate the demands of the specific job you have applied for. Assessment days usually comprise a mixture of: interviews (including competency based interviews and partner interviews), case studies, aptitude tests (such as verbal and numerical reasoning, personality tests, group exercises, role plays and presentations (both group and individual).
Candidates are also usually given a tour of company offices during an assessment day and several opportunities to meet with, and talk to, current employees.
How to behave at an Assessment Day
Candidates should be assertive, enthusiastic and co-operative at an assessment day. An assessment day is not a competition; teamwork is key if you want to do well. Be friendly, polite and supportive to other candidates. Assessors are looking for competitive people who can work well with others, not just competitive people.
Assessment center etiquette
It is important to be professional at an assessment center. Candidates should behave like the employees of the company they are being assessed by. You must wear smart business dress throughout; men should wear ties and polish their shoes; women should dress appropriately. If in doubt, dress conservatively.
Be polite, look people in the eye and shake hands. Make an effort to say hello to your fellow candidates and assessors. Everything you do during an assessment center will be noted.
An assessment center is usually conducted by a group of assessors made up of members of an employer's HR team, departmental managers and partners at the firm. In theory this makes the process more objective, because the final decision on each candidate must be agreed on by a team of assessors, using a range of structured assessment methods, rather than one person.
Assessment centers are not a competition
You will not be in direct competition with other candidates at an assessment center. It is normal for large organisations to recruit to a standard. All, several, one or none of your assessment group may be hired. You need to perform to a very high standard at an assessment center, but you do not need to challenge, compete or disagree with other candidates. In fact, it may harm your assessors opinion of you if you do.
Selectors want to see how you react to and get on with other people during your assessments. Although it is good to show that you are competitive, your assessors are just as interested to see evidence of teamwork, communication and leadership skills, all things that are essential for a good employee to possess.
What are the assessments?
Assessment centers are commonly made up of a mixture of (but not all of) the following individual and group assessments:
Typical interviews used at an assessment center
Typical individual assessments used at an assessment center:
- Aptitude tests - (verbal reasoning, diagrammatic reasoning and/or numerical reasoning)
- Personality tests
- Case study
- E-tray exercise
- In-tray exercise
- Written exercise