Graduate assessment day tips - what you need to know and how to succeed
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Graduate assessment day tips - what you need to know and how to succeed

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Attending an Assessment Day can be a daunting prospect, especially for graduates who haven’t been to one before so might not know what to expect. An Assessment Day offers graduates the chance to showcase their abilities through an array of tasks and activities, putting their employability to the test in a different set-up to the traditional graduate job interview. A mix of HR Managers and Line Managers (otherwise known as the Assessors) will review all aspects of how every graduate performed on the day.

From preparation to the group discussions, it’s important to enter the Assessment Centre with all bases covered and a clear idea of what you’ll be up against – here’s how you can:

celebrating graduate success

Clean up your digital footprint

graduates using social media

Before you even step foot into an Assessment Centre, make sure your online presence is tidy. Google yourself and your e-mail address to see what’s out there on the internet for everyone, including your prospective employer, to see. Whilst you may like those photos from a recent night out, anything inappropriate could leave a negative impression – make sure your digital footprint doesn’t overstep the mark and change those privacy settings.

Be prepared for anything

graduate communication skills

It’s no secret you’ll be assessed throughout the day on numerous aspects; leadership, decision-making, time management, planning and much more. As well as assessing how well you perform in set tasks, assessors will also be attentively looking at how you interact with the other candidates and employees during any social hours, including lunchtime. Be aware of how you present yourself – companies not only want to hire the most talented candidates, but also those who are friendly and personable as it gives them a good indication of what you will be like to work with. If you’re sitting alone in the corner refusing to talk to anyone, there’s a strong chance this will be flagged for the wrong reasons.

Look after yourself – rest and eat well

patrick from songebob squarepants eating

When asked to complete a variety of tasks throughout the day, Assessment Days can be long and exhausting. To ensure high energy levels are maintained, set some time aside to prepare yourself physically as well as mentally - a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast are a must to keep you fuelled and energised from the get-go.

Conquer the group exercise

Emotional intelligence is key

kanye saying i'mma let you finish to taylor swift

Assessment centres usually involve a selection of individual and group tasks. In group exercises, you will be working with a mixture of personalities as employers will be closely observing how well you interact in a team. You may be challenged with louder voices in the group discussion, but don’t be discouraged. Assessors will be aware of this and reward graduates who can mitigate this dynamic – taking control and steering the discussion to include quieter members of the team will also work in your favour.

Quality over quantity

graduate being interrupted in meeting

Talking over other candidates might get you noticed, but not necessarily for the right reason. Acting natural and relaxed in a group discussion means you can take time to answer carefully. Reeling off as much information as possible just for the sake of being heard will not show the employer you know more - the quality of your contribution matters so much more than the quantity of responses.

Stand out from the crowd

graduates getting sassy and standing out from crowd

Finding you’re up against a high calibre of graduates can be intimidating. Showcase authority from the beginning and try to be the first person to speak – this will enable you to quietly command the discussion, without being overbearing. If you start by outlining how you and the team should structure the group discussion, you will illustrate your ability to organise a group and deliver the set objectives on time.

Stick to deadlines

lisa simpson checking the time

A very common mistake employers make a note of is when graduates fail to complete a task on time in either group or individual exercises. Whilst your employers will remind you how much time is remaining, it’s worth bringing along your own watch or timer to keep a close eye on the time yourself. Not only will this show fantastic organisational skills, it will display high proactivity and determination – all sought after qualities in various graduate job descriptions.

Do your research

cat going mad on laptop

Treat an Assessment Day like an extended graduate job interview. Networking will be the core focus of the day, so make sure you’re ready to share reasons why you want to work for the company and talk through any recent and big developments within the relevant industry. Whilst some of the employees you interact with may not be your direct assessors, demonstrating evidence of thorough research is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.

Be yourself and make the most of the opportunity

cute kids at birthday party

Despite initial fears, an Assessment Centre is a brilliant opportunity for graduates to get a glimpse of the company’s culture and what it would be like to work at the company.

The day should also be a chance for you to showcase your qualities and demonstrate why you would be the perfect candidate and why the employer should hire you.

Send a follow-up email

you got mail film

Similar to graduate job interviews, sending a quick follow-up email to the employer after your Assessment Centre acts as a nice roundup of the day. Keep it concise and share your appreciation for being invited along – it’s a gesture that’ll be remembered and shows the employer you’re really eager to land that graduate job.

Find more graduate advice on our Graduate blog - or search the latest jobs on our Graduate Jobs board.

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