How to navigate the assessment centre

How to navigate the assessment centre


Author: Jessica Berkeley

There are people who will say "just be yourself and it will be fine". These people are probably related to you. Whilst you should be yourself - that alone is not going to be enough to clinch a training contract.

Jessica Berkeley

You have worked hard in a competitive market to secure a place on the assessment day and now is not the time to rest on your laurels. You are going to be nervous, it is only natural, however there are a few things which you can do to ensure you make the most of the opportunity that the assessment centre offers.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

You can only control so much. You cannot control what questions you'll be asked during the interview, or what your group task will be. However, if you are asked to prepare a presentation in advance you will be in control of this therefore rehearse and practice. By doing this you will minimise the chance of nerves stealing your confidence when it is most needed.

You are likely to be asked at least one question about something that is currently in the media. In the days running up to the assessment centre, listen, watch and read the news. Your interviewers are not trying to trip you up, they are simply trying to gauge how aware you are about the world we live in. Even if you're not specifically asked about something you've read/heard, it will give you lots of relevant things to talk about when you're networking throughout the day.

Don't assume that the people interviewing you have read your application. They haven't.

At Shoosmiths, the application is simply the gateway to the assessment centre. No assessor will have seen the application you spent weeks crafting. This is done purposefully so that everyone has an equal opportunity to impress on the day.

This is why networking is so important - it is your opportunity to tell people about yourself and the amazing things you have done. Whilst you do not want to be the loud, arrogant applicant, you also don't want to fade into the background. Now is not the time to be modest. Done something unusual/amazing/interesting? Talk about it. Be your own biggest supporter - even if it's just for the day!

Dress smartly and eat breakfast

This sounds ridiculous and obvious and is sure to be on every other 'How to prepare for an assessment centre' article on the internet. There is a reason for this.

Food is easily forgotten in the morning and despite the lovely lunch spread, you will probably be too distracted to eat much. You do not want hunger to bite midway through the afternoon when you still have a couple of valuable hours left to impress.

Dress professionally and you will naturally act in a more professional way. Don't wear new shoes. It's a long day and you should ensure you're as comfortable as possible.

Know the firm

To get offered the opportunity to attend the assessment centre, you must have impressed with your application. It is likely therefore that you've already done lots of research around the firm. However, you may have done that research months ago.

Make sure you're up to date. How are we performing in the market? Are we growing? If so, in what areas and in what locations? In a growing firm, things change all the time. We want to attract people to the firm who are enthusiastic about us.

Do not view the other applicants as direct competition

Human nature means everyone will naturally do this, but try to resist the urge. They could be your future colleagues and friends. Being overtly competitive will not look good to the assessors at a firm where relationships play such a key role in its culture.

Use each other to draw ideas out and to open up conversations. Work together and collaboratively in the group task, and throughout the day. At Shoosmiths you work within a team on a daily basis and it is important that you are a team player. This is not about who is the 'best', it's about who can bring out the best in others at the same time as putting in an excellent performance themselves.

Finally, if you've been invited to attend an assessment centre at Shoosmiths this year - good luck!