Assessment centres are becoming more and more popular in the recruitment process as employers have to make tough decisions on who they want to hire. We took a look at what you can expect from an assessment day and how to cope with what can be a gruelling process.

They can be daunting, you are grouped together in groups of anything between 5 to 30 people and expected to stand out. Usually there are multiple positions on offer and companies can have more than one assessment day so it may be that nobody gets picked from that group or that five get chosen for the job on offer. Bauer Radio run an assessment day as part of the recruitment process for their Graduate Radio Sales Trainee Programme. “We normally receive around 2000 applications for this programme and assess and interview about half this number – for less than ten jobs,” Hilary Pickering, Training and Development Manager says. “The assessment centre allows us a very clear view of who stands out!”

But do not fear! We chatted to three graduates who nailed the assessment day and bagged their place on the competitive radio sales graduate programme to find out more about what their application and assessment process involved.

The day itself

You will typically start the day in a waiting room, meeting the other graduates, exchanging stories of where you went to uni, how hard you have been trying to get a job and talking about what the day may entail. Then you will be summoned to a room where you will get an introduction to the company. At the end of this introduction you will have the chance to ask question. Always ask a question. It’s a good idea to get your voice heard and it will show that you have been listening.

Then comes the group exercise where you will be asked to work in a team. For example you may be put in a survival scenario and given a list of survival items. Your team will be asked to put these items in order of importance. This is to test how well you can put your opinion across, delegate and work as a team, so it is important to speak up as well as listen to other people. It can also be testing your attention to detail, so it is important to read the instructions of the task carefully.

You’re all in the same boat…

You can make some really good friends at assessment centres, especially if your assessment runs for more than one day. Talking to people is a really good way of combating the nerves; everyone is there for the same reason so there is no need for you to feel inferior to anyone else.

“There were about 50 candidates and I liked the fact I got to suss out the competition before the first stage of the interview,” Rebekah Shaw who nabbed her place on the radio sales programme at Viking FM and Magic 1161 says. “We then got to carry on talking throughout the day which made me less nervous as we were all in the same position.”

Do your Research!

Charlotte Ives who got herself onto the Radio City sales team explained that research will get you a long way. “The assessment day was interesting,” she says. “As it was something I’d never done before I found it quite enjoyable – despite the apprentice style elimination rounds! I was of course nervous, as it was a journey into the unknown – not only was this my first assessment day, it was my first time in Leeds! I researched Bauer, as well as some background prep to understand what may happen on the day and what interviewers usually look for.”

Stand out!

After this you will be asked to sell something, so be prepared and practice beforehand so that you feel more confident. The assessors will want you to engage them – and of course, sell the product! “Before the interview I had to prep a talk on an object that described me,” Rebekah says. “In the interview I actually sang them an advert so I’m guessing that could be a reason why I stood out! I think the most challenging part of the day was being put in a group and given a task relating to radio, as it was hard to judge whether you made an impression or not.”

Hilary Pickering says that at their assessment day they’re looking for personality, intelligent thinking and confidence. “Nerves are fine,” she says. “It shows us that you want the opportunity, but please be aware the person who takes over and talks the loudest or the most is nor normally displaying the skills we are looking for. Working well as part of a team, having the tenacity to get your point across with clarity and a sense of fun are all traits we look for.”

If you like the sound of the Graduate Sales Programme, find out more about the programme and what they look for in applications.

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