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Assessment Centre

Assessment Centres are the final stage in the graduate recruitment process. Normally 3-6 hours long, the day is an opportunity to demonstrate your skills and abilities in-person as the recruiters watch on. This page will outline two typical activities during the day along with some tips and tricks to help you get an offer. Most Assessment Centres also include an individual task related to the role so make sure you prepare by understanding the role you are applying for.

Interviews
 

Both biographical and technical interviews are commonplace at Assessment Centres so it's important that you prepare for both. Biographical interviews focus on your experiences, strengths and weakness. On the other hand, Technical interviews feature questions specific to the role you applied to with their format depending on the industry. Consultants will often face Technical Case Study Interviews (which we discuss more below) whilst Investment Banks will use Techincal Interviews to give you a hypothetical job scenario designed to test if you think rationally and ethically. It is also important to structure your answers using the STAR method which we discuss in more detail on the Video Interview page.

Consultancy: Case Study Interviews
 

You will be tested on 7 skills throughout your interview:

  1. Listening & Recap: 

    • Listening and recapping involves actively listening to the question and taking notes of keywords, numbers and concepts. Once this is done, recap what you've just heard without adding in additional information.

  2. Clarifying: 

    • Aim to ask 6 questions about the case study

    • Your six questions should focus on:

      • Definitions (e.g. what does increase profitability mean)

      • Timeframe & magnitude (e.g. when does the business want to return to profitability?)

      • The objective 

      • The business model

      • The industry/market

  3. Structuring: 

    • Organise neatly all the issues relating to the problem

    • Try to ensure your framework has little or no overlap and covers all relevant issues of a problem. A good example of a framework is a profitability tree which is commonly used.

  4. Graphs & Math:

    • You will normally be given a graph and a table relating to the case study

    • Do some basic calculations in your head relating to the data provided e.g. percentage increase in costs of a specific part

    • Talk the recruiter through the calculations you are doing

  5. Brainstorming: 

    • Suggest possible problems from the information you've gathered before offering a solution​​​

  6. Synthesis:

    • Summarise the critical information and your main recommendation ​

      • Briefly recap the key question of the case

      • State your recommendation

      • Support your recommendation with 2 or 3 arguments using data points whenever possible

      • Discuss the risks of your recommendation

      • Reaffirm your recommendation

The Psychology of Interviews
 

With interviews being heavily researched in Psychology, studies can be used to give you an advantage over other candidates. Firstly, the interviewer will always form an initial, unconscious opinion of you in the first 7 seconds so it is important to set a positive tone. It is recommended that you smile and shake the recruiter's hand as you enter as well as ensuring you are dressed professionally before the interview. People won't often remember the specific of what you said but will remember how you made them feel so aim to leave the recruiter with a positive impression of you.

Secondly, Psychology shows it is important to show genuine excitement for the opportunity and praise the company in your interview. Students who compliment the interviewer and the company are more likely to be offered the job as the recruiter deems them as a better fit for the company. One easy way of doing this is by asking your interviewer questions about their job role at the end of the interview. Not only does this show you respect your interviewer's position at the company, but it creates a more enjoyable conversation as people enjoy talking about themselves. 

Group Exercise
 

You will often be put into smalls groups and be given a task linked to the job role which you will then have to present. In order to stand out in these tasks, it's important to do 5 things which contribute to a positive team dynamic and help you stand out.

  1. Communicate effectively

    • Listen to your course mates and let them finish what they're saying before making your point​

  2. Develop on the ideas of others

  3. Engage and include everyone

    • It often doesn't look good if you take charge and lead the team​

    • Focus instead on stimulating discussion and making sure everyone's voice is heard

    • Suggest a democratic approach to decision-making when applicable

  4. Understand the brief

  5. Timekeeping

    • An easy way to stand out is to manage the group's timings to ensure ​you don't run out of time

Being confident...
 

Finally, it is incredibly important to be confident in the Assessment Centre. Whilst it is a nerve-wracking experience, confidence can make you seem a better candidate. Tips to be more confident before the centre include scheduling a call with a friend beforehand, meditation and feeling prepared. We also recommend you have a warm drink on hand if possible as this will hydrate your vocal cords which can help you sound more confident.