I had my first encounter with an assessment centre today! And it was an eye opener! There were 5 of us who attended and everyone was pretty nervous as all but one of us had never been to an assessment centre before! The assessment was split into 2 parts.
Firstly we were given information on a charity which was offering an internship to students we had to read and digest the information in a few minutes. We then had to pitch the charity’s offer to the rest of the group. We then had to decide between us which one we would accept as the charity to pitch for to the panel of 3 members of staff who were watching us all the time. We had 15 minutes to decide and come up with a presentation.
The second part of the assessment centre was an in tray exercise, again, something I have not come across before. It was divided into 2 tasks which were accompanied with an information pack. The first task we were asked to assign priority next to a series of 12 tasks inside half an hour. The second part was to write an email reply to an email that has formed part of the first part of the task (a complaint from a customer).
The tasks set were challenging, the most challenging part I think was that everything was done under strict time constraints. The 15 minutes we had to decide as a group went so quickly. No one wanted to go all “The Apprentice” with their pitch and it was interesting to see how terribly “British” we all were about it. No one wanted to dominate, interrupt or otherwise upset their nervous peers. We decided to go around the group again each stating the pros and cons of the offer we had made. I was able to pick out more cons for the other candidates and so it transpired that the group chose the offer I had pitched. This process was interesting as it then meant we had only left ourselves between 5 and 7 minutes to put together the presentation on the piece of flip chart paper we were given. I took it upon myself to divide the presentation equally between us and we all managed to say a small piece and all equally answer the questions we were asked afterwards.
The second task flew by. The first part where we had to address 12 different tasks suddenly made me put my managerial head on, we were supposed to pretend we were a trainee manager of a hotel chain. A lot of the tasks, luckily were similar to ones I had been faced with in retail so I didn’t really feel stumped by what I was presented with. However I didn’t complete the task. I didn’t read the last two issues and didn’t address them. Ooops? The second part of that task, writing the reply to a customer was again similar to what I had to do working in retail, there would be many a time where I would have to deal with customer complaints on the spot and deal with them in a calm, friendly and professional manner. Despite my terrible handwriting I think I struck the right tone in my email reply.
I assume I successfully over came the challenges of the assessment centre because I have since been offered an interview for the position. This process has given me inspiration for recruitment I am heading up as part of the project in the area I work in at the University. Watch this space for pointers after that process has finished.