The Assessment day (Interview, Team task & Presentation): Should you survive the application, the aptitude tests and whatever else they throw at you, you will typically be invited to an assessment day. This day is a challenging experience which is ultimately designed to test whether you are the right candidate for the role, but, it’s also there to give you a really good idea of what the role consists of, career progression, extra opportunities and the benefits working for their company will entitle you too and thus it is a really good time for you to have all your questions answered and to understand whether the role is right for you. The traditional format of the assessment day is a competency based interview, a team task and a presentation although this structure does vary from company to company and from role to role. We will explore these elements in more detail in the following sections:
The competency based interview: As mentioned in the application section you are highly likely to face multiple forms of competency based tasks during the process. The questions are designed to test you on a set of key competencies and they are aimed at people that have no or very little relevant experience in the target industry AKA graduates. The assessors questions you with the intention of gaining insight into how you react when faced with certain challenging situations that you have faced at work, volunteering, during studies or even extracurricular activities. You can expect to be asked questions along the lines of “tell me about a time when you have failed and what you did to ensure that it did not happen again” or “tell me about the hardest piece of constructive criticism you’ve ever had to face”. Each company has its own competencies which you will need to thoroughly research before your interview. In order to prepare, most recruiters will recommend that you use the STAR format, this acronym stands for "situation, task, action, result" and it serves as a guideline for you to structure your answers. It is important to keep your answers related to specific instances, try your best not to generalise i.e. try not to say things along the lines of “during my time as a waitress I frequently provided excellent customer service”, make it specific by discussing a particular instance that stands out to you. Also make sure you always refer to what you have done and use “I” and not “we”, and try and think about what competency you’re being tested on as you answer the question. The most effective way of preparing for this is by reading through and preparing answers for as many questions as possible related to the company's key competencies; you can also ask friends and family to test you with some example questions. You can find examples of typical questions online and further information about competency questions by clicking here.
Group Exercise: The group activity is one of the best ways for assessors to evaluate your interpersonal skills. They will be looking for someone who gets on well with other people, who is a good listener but also is able to make their points heard and influence the team and the decisions made. It is likely they will also be looking for someone with leadership qualities, and who can step up to the leadership role. Common examples of tasks that you will be asked to complete in a group are a “group discussion”, debating a work related problem or solve a problem (namely a case study or a role play). Remember to always be calm and assertive but never aggressive, the assessors want to see how well you interact with others!
Presentation: Finally it is common for the assessment day process to include a presentation, normally to two or three assessors. You may be given content or a title for your presentation prior to the assessment day giving you sufficient time to prepare, or you may be given some information on the day and say thirty minutes to prepare without being expected to work outside of the knowledge that you are provided with. Here you are primarily being assessed on your communication skills including your public speaking ability, your confidence and ability to remain calm under pressure, your clarity of speech and the ability to structure and design effective presentations. Remember to remain calm and not rush the information, and most of all remember that the presentation is always being assessed in conjunction with your other assessments, so nerve-wracking as it may be don’t get overly worked up about it!
Other assessments: Aside from these assessment techniques you may also be asked to complete other tests, such as tests assessing your language proficiency, some companies will require you to sit these tests in-house whereas others may ask you to complete them online in a similar vein to the aptitude tests. See here for examples of the type of test that you may be asked to complete. The tests will be timed and you may or may not be able to use resources, it all depends on which test you are taking and where you take it!
Phewwww! Applying for grad schemes is certainly a job in itself! I hope this post is helpful! Good luck to anyone applying and keep your eyes peeled on Multilingualvacancies.com for graduate opportunities...and don't forget to keep your CV up to date!