In some cases, an interview may be part of an assessment centre process. This will be a more common experience for graduates, but it is better to be prepared. If you apply to the armed forces, officer selection follows the assessment centre format.
An assessment centre may include:
- A presentation on the company
- Group exercises (such as practical, problem-solving exercises; preparation of a presentation; role-play situation; group discussion etc.)
- Aptitude/psychometric tests
- An individual presentation (unlikely for younger applicants)
- Meals and refreshment breaks*
- A chance to meet and talk to current employees
- Individual interview
Remember – you will probably be under observation at meal break times just as much as during the exercises.
Recruiters will observe you interacting with others as well as on your own. Therefore group exercises are important. However, be yourself rather than playing out a role that you think the organisation is looking for. The recruiters could be looking for someone who is good at supporting the team and helping it to achieve a positive outcome just as much as for an outright leader.
Aptitude and other psychometric tests that you may have to take are very different from the examinations you will have taken at school. The tests may examine your verbal reasoning, spatial, logical or mathematical skills. Usually you have to work very quickly and for the numerical tests, without a calculator!
There are books available from good booksellers, or possibly from your school/college careers library. You may also be asked to complete a personality test. These are usually constructed so that you have to complete them quickly and without thinking too much. These tests have ways of revealing if you have given the answers you think the company wants rather than what you really think.
Some websites provide information and practise questions. They may belong to the actual companies who provide the tests to recruiters. Some may charge for a full assessment of your results but this could be a worthwhile investment to help you identify any weak areas. Keep practising tests over and over again, and set yourself time constraints to try and simulate assessment centre conditions.
It is also worth noting that more and more companies are using online aptitude tests as a selection technique for the interview/assessment centre so the sooner you start to prepare, the better.