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The Assessment Centre: how to stand out without shouting

21.10.2016

Virgin
You’d be forgiven for thinking that a day at an assessment centre would be daunting at best. Not only are you being scrutinised, but you’ve also got your competition sat right next to you. Now is the time to prove you’re the right one for the job.

We’ve explored some of the most common activities you’ll be expected to do on an assessment day. [Can we link to the ‘Four most common...’ blog here?] That means you can prepare yourself for the technical tasks that you’ll be expected to perform and you’ll have a good idea on what competencies you’re being assessed for on the day.
However, there is something else you must consider when participating in your assessment day. That’s how you come across when interacting in a group. Assessors like to see certain qualities and behaviours in their ideal candidate.
Now, it can be quite tempting to try and dominate all conversations to get yourself noticed. However, that’s not always the best way. Let’s take a look at how you can impress without shouting over everyone else.

Express yourself 

It’s important to make your voice heard. If you have a great idea or an opinion that’s important to you then don’t be afraid to express it. Remember though, always speak calmly, clearly and respectfully, you don’t want to appear arrogant.
And it’s not just about what you say. Non-verbal communication is also scrutinised when participating in group activities. Remain self-aware and try not to slip into closed off poses - crossed arms, we’re looking at you!

Listen up

Making yourself heard is super important, but never forget to dedicate just as much effort to listening. Many jobs require having good listening skills so you can correctly assess a customer’s issue and find the best way to solve it.
Make sure you listen to others attentively. Show that you’re listening actively by acknowledging people using phrases like, “I agree” or “I see your point”. Even a smile and a nod of the head can do that job. Support the contributions of others by adding to them, but only when it’s your turn and if it genuinely adds to their point. Don’t just speak for the sake of it.

Keep track of time

Many of the tasks you are presented with will have a time limit. This is designed to see how well you can prioritise tasks and organise your time. This is a great way to evaluate how well you organise your time in your worklife.
It’s important to make sure you finish your tasks, discussion or activity in the time allocated. Always keep an eye on time and don’t be afraid to remind people as the clock ticks!

Don’t be afraid to lead

While you’re expected to effectively work as part of a team, don’t be afraid to assume the leader role during your group activities. Every well run team has someone at the helm, making sure everything runs smoothly and thinking of the big picture.
Now, we know that we just told you to give everyone a chance to speak - this is the balancing act those with leadership skills must display. Ensure everyone is heard and show that you can listen to ideas and find a convincing way to arrive at the best conclusion for the task brief. You’ll win extra points if you find a way to deal with weaker ideas with tact and grace without coming across as dismissive.

Don’t rush a solution

If you’re presented with a timed, problem solving task, don’t panic because your time is limited. It’s important not to rush to a solution. Think carefully about the scenario, think logically about the possibilities and ask questions if there’s anything that’s unclear.
An ability to carefully assess a situation before diving straight in is a great quality and one that you’ll want to display. Problem solving is always more efficient if you dedicate some thinking time at the beginning.

Don’t hold back!

It’s important to remember that your interviewers can only assess you on what they see from you on the day. So try not to let nerves or insecurity get the better of you and show them you on your best day. Give it your best shot and make them remember you for all the right reasons!

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