So you’ve got through the preliminary stages of the recruitment process and have been invited to take part in an assessment centre, congratulations! Assessment days typically analyse your suitability for the specific job role you’ve applied for, assessing your abilities against the job specification and competencies through a number of different tasks. Assessment days can be tiring but by including different tasks, you have a number of chances to prove you are right for the job; if you struggle with one task, you have the opportunity to excel in another.

1. Dress Smartly

You won’t get a second chance to make a first impression and something as insignificant as an untucked shirt when you’re competing against a host of talented candidates could be a deal-breaker. Make sure you dress appropriately for the role and the sector. If you are in a more creative sector, an assessor will most likely want to see your individuality reflected in your attire as well as within your work; whereas, other sectors such as finance, engineering or sales for example, will expect at least a tailored suit jacket and polished shoes.

2. Be prepared

Double check you know what is involved during the assessment day; find out whether you need to bring anything with you, what time you should arrive, where you are going, how you are going to get there. Assessment days typically involve some/all of the following which may require preparation: presentations, group tasks, written tests, role plays and an individual interview.

It is always advisable to read up on the company before your assessment day. Your tasks on the day may require this extra knowledge and doing your research will give you an advantage over the other candidates. If possible, try and find out extra information from sources other than just their main website and see what is going on in the news in relation to the sector.

3. Act professionally

From the moment you walk into the building you have started your assessment centre so make sure you are making the right impression. Introduce yourself to everyone there, shake hands, make conversation while you wait for the day to start- these small details can make the difference in how an assessor will read you, especially if being personable and confident are key to the job role.

During the day you will be interacting with fellow candidates and you may have to undertake group exercises with them, so be friendly and polite. Ensure you always act professionally (I have known someone not to get the job because they have acted too casually with the candidates during a task) and treat the other candidates like colleagues. Be encouraging to those that are a bit quieter, inquisitive to other people’s ideas and try to take different roles in group activities such as time-keeper or note-taker so you showcase a range of skills. Be careful not to talk too much or interrupt other candidates; show that you can work well in a team by contributing insightful ideas, whilst equally listening to your team members’ ideas.

4. Ask questions

Whether you have an interview stage during the day or not, prepare questions ready to ask the assessors. Whether they are about the job itself (avoid questions about money- ask instead about company progression and other future opportunities within the role) or about your performance on the day (showing you are keen for feedback in order to develop as a person); this will show you are truly interested in the role.

5. Time manage

Arrive early or on time and make sure you know where you are going! Time management is hugely important in any industry so if you fail to arrive on time for an assessment centre, it doesn’t set a good precedent for how you will be on a day-to-day basis at work.

If you are assigned a time frame for a particular task, make a note of the start and end time, keeping track of how long you have left. This is a particularly good idea during group exercises as often the group will get carried away with the discussion/task and forget when they started or how long they have left. Not only will this give you more success as a group during the task, but also show to your assessors that you possess time management skills

Follow these links for further advice on presentations and interviews.