So you’ve applied for a job and been invited to attend an assessment centre – your first thought may be “great they liked my CV” and your second thought might very well be “oh no an assessment centre – scary!”  I must confess despite having being involved in designing and running assessment centres for years I would still feel exactly the same.  Regardless of whether you are a new graduate or someone who has been working for years I think this is a natural reaction.

So how should you prepare for an assessment centre in order to ensure you give your best performance? First consider the obvious things – travel arrangements, dress code, start time and make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before.  Then think about the tasks you are likely to be asked to complete and how you can prepare for each of these.  You can certainly practice ability tests online and you will more than likely have an interview during the day so prepare for this as you would for any other interview http://www.macresourcing.com/candidates/services/.  There are plenty of books on the subject as well as internet articles and there are even some companies out there who offer assessment centre practice or coaching but this can be quite an expensive option.

Bear in mind that the assessment centre will be designed around a set of competencies so you should try to think about examples from your past experience where you have been able to demonstrate that you hold these competencies.  These examples do not all have to come from the workplace sometimes personal examples can be just as effective.

I have encountered a small number of people who have decided to withdraw their application rather than attend an assessment centre and I think that’s a real shame.  Only by stepping out of our comfort zone occasionally can we really find out what we are capable of.  If an assessment centre is well designed and managed you should find that you are undertaking tasks which are challenging but not impossible and these should be delivered in an environment designed to get the best out of you.  You should also receive some feedback after the event which will be useful for you whatever the eventual outcome of the assessment centre.

Finally it is worth remembering that the assessment centre is a two-way process and it is an opportunity for you to learn more about the company, its people, culture and so on so think about the questions that you would like to ask the company.  After an assessment centre you will certainly be tired but if you get the preparation right you should have learned quite a lot about yourself and the company and you can feel satisfied that you rose to the challenge despite your initial fears.  Be yourself but be your best self!