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Don’t panic! What to do when you don’t know what to expect from your assessment centre!

Don’t panic! What to do when you don’t know what to expect from your assessment centre!

What can you expect in your Assessment/ Development Centre (ADC)?
Will there be an In-Basket or Analytical exercise?
Will the role-play be set internally to the organisation or in a completely external context?
Will there be a presentation? Will I need to respond to problems or write a case study?

Surprisingly, it doesn’t really matter what exercise it is!

Irrespective of the format, you will need to identify the key information, link important elements, prioritise and plan for successful outcomes.

Whether the exercise is with one role-player or a group of other candidates, you will still need to clarify your understanding, make recommendations, suggests courses of action. You will need to move the discussion forward to a useful conclusion and make sure there are measurable plans in place by the time the exercise end is called.

The name of the exercise doesn’t matter. Here are a few tips to get the best out of ANY ADC exercise:

  1. Read and follow the instructions very carefully, they will be very detailed and it can be easy to skip crucial content in your haste. If you aren’t sure, go back to the question, you’ll probably find more guidelines than you first picked up on.
  2. Sketch out your objectives. They probably tie in quite closely with what the questions/ instructions are asking. It can help guide you in a face to face exercise or written one to refer back to your objectives. This will tell you if you are sticking to your intentions or going off on a tangent.
  3. Some of the requirements of a task will be quite obvious. Others may be a little more subtle. An assessment exercise may often have different ‘layers’ to see what you pick up on, and how well you can link factors which may initially seem unconnected (but do actually have a bearing on one another).
  4. How you present the information doesn’t usually matter- we all have our own style. Just make sure you are concise and cover the key points with some degree of logic and structure. Content is king, not the window dressing. You can’t go wrong by sticking in a few bullet points and headers in written work to split up heavy text and in verbal exchanges, pausing to recap/ summarise and confirm your audience are still with you.
  5. Don’t be afraid to clarify anything that is unclear– trying to muddle through is far worse as you probably won’t be fooling anyone. It takes courage to check for meanings but is the most sensible and mature approach.

Article written by: Hannah Vallance

Hannah Vallance is a Chartered Occupational and HPC Registered Practitioner Psychologist, she has over ten years experience of designing assessment solutions.

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