Mel’s experience at an assessment centre

6 min read
HomeBlogMel’s experience at an assessment centre
With graduate job season upon us, assessment centres are in full swing. Assessment centres can be daunting no matter how prepared you are. To ease some of the stress we, sat down with Mel, who just went through an assessment centre to get an inside look into how they work.

How did you hear about the grad job opportunity?

I wouldn’t say I heard about the opportunity exactly, getting a grad job has been one of those things at the top of my to-do list since the start of the year.

Why did you apply for a grad program?

I applied mainly because the training you get in a grad program is probably the best you’ll get in your life. It’s a great way to get into an established company while balancing education with experience. Your potential future bosses and managers will be investing their time in you to help you learn everything you need to succeed in the future. And even if you decide not to stay for the long term, you’ll have much more to offer future employers.

After you submitted your application, how long did it take to get a call back?

They sent me the psychometric test about 30 mins after the application submission. I think it was automated. I got the phone call to attend the assessment centre about 3-4 days after submitting the test.

How did you feel before the assessment centre?

I was really nervous at the start and I was worried about working with a bunch of people I didn’t know. I arrived about an hour early and thank god I did. By the time the AC started I felt pretty relaxed and had gotten to know the other applicants.

What happened during the assessment centre?

So, pretty much right from the get go, we were split into groups of 4-7 people per table, according to the division of the company we had applied for. I was seated with everyone who was essentially a competitor. To be honest it was kind of daunting. We were then given a quick rundown of the day and introduced to our assessors who were the managers of the positions we had applied for.
We started off with some icebreaker questions like:
  • If you were a sandwich, what sandwich would you be and why ?
  • If you could be anyone famous for a day who would be ?
The main task in the AC was a case study. We were given a document of a struggling company and some statistics. We had 5 minutes to work individually and come up with a solution to the case. Then we were asked to present our idea to the rest of our table. After that, we had 20 minutes to work together and pick a single solution and present as a group to the assessor.
After the case study section was done, we sat down with the assessor and reflected on our performance. The assessor also asked each of us what we did and didn’t enjoy about the task.

Any tips to making a good impression to the assessors?

Arrive early
Like really, really early. If you are one of the first few people waiting, the assessors will most likely be walking past you in the lobby and might remember you when you get into the actual assessment centre. This also gives you time to get to know your fellow applicants and get more comfortable with them.
Remember names
Remembering someone’s name goes a long way. It’s really awkward to stop in the middle of talking and say “sorry, what was your name?” and the assessor will definitely notice. Assessors are always taking notes. Remembering your group members names can also help when delegating tasks and keeping on track of what’s happening in your group.
Answer questions with the division you applied for in mind
When you answer questions, make sure your answer is related to the particular division you’re applying for. For example, if you are applying for a banking role, even if someone asks you what kind of sandwich you are, you should answer I want to be XYZ sandwich because there is lots of demand for this sandwich and I want to be a high price since there is less supply - demonstrating your knowledge of economics. You don’t want to say I want to be a mustard sandwich because I like mustard. Every question is an opportunity to say something about yourself. Don’t waste it, even if the question sounds silly.
Be nice to others
Talk amicably and try to make a good impression on the people sitting at your table. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate how you work with others. And assessor aside, these people could end up becoming your colleagues. It could make life easier if you start the work relationship on the right foot. Also people might get asked by an assessor who they would like to work with from their group - so it never hurts to be nice and friendly.

What should you avoid doing during an assessment centre?

Don’t be too loud
While it is important to stand out, make sure you don’t overpower the people at your table. Talking over other people or dominating the conversation comes off as a red flag to assessors. It’s better to be an active listener and contributor than steamrolling your own idea.
Don’t interrupt others
Sometimes people can talk for too long and you might be worried about time and getting frustrated. Instead of butting in, wait until they take a breath to say “hey, in the interest of time, why don’t we move on to XYZ”.
Don’t take it too seriously
This one is difficult. If you’re thinking that this assessment centre is life or death, it will show on your face and in your actions. The assessors are just trying to find someone that will be easy to work alongside. My advice is to calm down, take a deep breath and act normal.
Have you heard back from them?
Yes. They called me around lunch the day after and scheduled me in for the next round of interviews within 2 weeks.
If you’re thinking of getting a job, don't forget to get your super organised before you start work. Both Student Super and Professional Super have zero fees on zero balances, so you can open an account before you start work. They’re also fee free for balances under $1,000, and have discounted fees for balances under $5,000 helping you get a head start with your super.
Want zero fees for super balances under $1,000?