- Don't just do it – show the assessors you're doing it Remember when you passed your driving test. You didn't just need to look in your mirror before you made a manoeuvre, you had to move your head to show the examiner you were looking. It's the same in an assessment centre. You not only have to listen to what people are saying, you have to show the assessors you are listening through body language and feedback.
- Relax and be yourself In a situation where people are observing you in order to assess you, of course there is an extent to which it is wise to keep your guard up and manage the impression you are making. However, if this is taken to an extreme level what people see is someone who is uptight, wary and they are likely to be frustrated because they just don't feel they are seeing a real person. Therefore if you can relax sufficiently to let your personality shine through and to let something of your unique individuality be seen the assessors are more likely to warm to you.
- Find an opportunity to practise With assessment centres, like with most worthwhile activities, practice helps. If you can find the opportunity to run through exercises with a trusted friend you are likely to be more relaxed and well prepared when it comes to the day itself. There are also opportunities to attend a practice assessments via organisations such as Assessment Centre Prep.
- Know your assessment criteria In most cases the assessors will be assessing you against a pre-defined list of qualities, attributes or competencies. For many public sector jobs this list will be communicated prior to the event or will be available on request or with a small amount of research. In the private sector, openness from the organisation regarding defined qualities to be measured will vary considerably. If it feels appropriate, ask the organisation prior to the event. If you applied through a recruitment consultancy they may be able to help. At the very least the job description (if available) or the advertisement you applied to will have some indications of the criteria you are likely to be measured against.
- Prioritise your time One of the most common failings at assessment centres is candidates failing to do themselves justice because the run out of time in exercises. Many assessment centres will involve digesting a brief and responding in some way. It is important to initially process the information quickly at an overview level by skim reading. After this there is a chance to go back and study elements in more detail once you have a feel for the overall challenge and what is required.
Monster.co.uk in association with ACP