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Three interview assessment centre fears and how to overcome them

Whether you’re worried about the competition or personality tests, use these tips to ace your assessment centre interview

More employers than ever now use assessment centres to recruit for jobs, with as many as one third of companies using them to choose applicants.

However, being invited to an assessment centre may feel like your worst nightmare. The thought of undergoing tests, simulated exercises and interviews can reduce even the most confident candidate to a nervous wreck. So why are they so scary and what can you do about it?

1. Fear of the unknown
All assessment centres are different. Some may involve a number of tests: aptitude or psychological exercises, role play, verbal or written communication simulations, presentations, activities to test prioritisation and organisation skills, or group tasks with the other candidates. And not forgetting the dreaded competency-based interview. If you’ve never experienced these kinds of tests before it can make you feel anxious and less confident.

What can you do?

Ask for information: most employers will tell you what is going to be involved, and may send you practice papers. Search for example exercises: try www.practiceaptitudetests.com or www.jobtestprep.co.uk. You cannot practice the exact test you will be set but becoming more familiar with the types of exercises you might be asked to do can remove the fear, and you can develop an approach which works for you. If you discover that a particular type of test is a weak area for you then you can put in more practice or get some coaching on how to improve.

2. Fear of the competition
In most recruitment scenarios you don’t meet the other candidates but at assessment centres not only do you meet them but you may be asked to participate in a group exercise where you are competing directly with them. In such situations you may find yourself making huge assumptions about their capability compared to yours which can erode your confidence.

What can you do?

Mentally prepare yourself: use positive thinking to increase confidence through reinforcing and reminding yourself of your key skills and achievements.

Be yourself: no matter how tempting it can be to compete with the alpha male/female in the group try not to be drawn into behaviour that doesn’t enhance your performance. Be authentic and act with integrity.

3. Fear of being exposed
The assessors are with you most of the time and you may feel there is nowhere to hide – that you have to perform at all times, even breaks and mealtimes. This can be quite stressful, and depending on your personality type you may become withdrawn and quiet or talk too much, maybe saying things you later regret.

What can you do?

Develop a strategy: what kind of impression do you want to give? If you know you tend to withdraw when under stress then make a point of talking in breaks and lunchtime with an assessor or another candidate on a one to one basis where you feel comfortable. Similarly if you know you can over compensate and say too much then have a few safe topics (news, sport, current affairs) which you can stick too and involve other people in.

Think ahead about how to cope with nerves for a whole morning or day, such as breathing techniques, mindfulness, or keeping hydrated.

Remember the assessors are human and they want you to do well – they want to appoint a good candidate.

Above all remember to keep it in perspective – it’s a good opportunity for you to work out if the company/job is right for you should you be offered the role. The experience can give you real insight into the culture and the organisational values of the company. Plus if you’re not successful you can learn from the experience so the next assessment centre may not be so daunting.


Source: Guardian Professional

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Nathan Jeffery
Notification Bell