In our last blog article, we have already introduced you to the most common and important tasks at an assessment center, and have given you useful tips and tricks on how to master them. In order to round off our topic—“assessment centers”—in this article we want to give you some general pieces of advice with regard to the question of how to be successful at an assessment center without fear and stress.
1. Plan your arrival
Sounds like an absolute no-brainer, but nothing is worse than showing up too late for the beginning of an assessment center. That won’t help you collect any bonus points from your possibly future employer. So please inform yourself in advance how best to reach the location of the assessment center and how long you would need to travel there. Since you can quickly get stuck in a traffic jam or suffer from a train cancellation, make sure to allow for a time buffer, so that you arrive as relaxed as possible at the venue and not dripping with sweat.
2. Collect information about the company and its industry
It goes without saying that you are well-informed about your potential employer and its industry. Take a look at the company’s website and read articles in newspapers and magazines. In addition, it is always recommended to also visit the websites of relevant industry portals (associations, etc.). There you will find a multitude of industry-specific information. This might also prove helpful in solving certain tasks at the assessment center. And one last important hint: On the day of the assessment center, search the internet once again for news about the company. Nothing is more embarrassing than missing out on some last-minute breaking news and leaving an impression of being uninformed.
3. Be natural
Many candidates take the preparations for an assessment center so seriously and arrive so well prepared to the event that they totally forget to be themselves. You should be aware that the assessors (the company’s representatives) have a lot of experience in observing and assessing candidates. As a consequence, they usually have a fine sense of whether a participant is acting naturally, or is rather behaving like an actor playing something they want to see or hear. Even if you are a talented actor, you will not succeed in doing this, given the two- or three-day intensity of an assessment center. Just behave naturally, with all your strengths and weaknesses. The assessors know that no one, and certainly no candidate, is perfect.
4. Be spontaneous
This point is a complement to the previous tip. Even if you are very well-prepared for the assessment center, there will always be some surprising twists and turns that you cannot prepare for. Therefore, do not cling unnecessarily to the strategy that you have laid out for yourself. Keep your spontaneity in such unexpected situations and come up with some surprisingly creative ideas. Frequently, the candidates’ creativity in these unforeseen situations is a very important criterion of assessment for the company. Many people know how to prepare themselves well. But very few are capable of being spontaneously creative.
5. Don’t be too competitive
Quite obviously, at an assessment center, you will come across a lot of other candidates competing for a job with you. Nevertheless, you should not make the mistake of seeing your fellow candidates only as competitors and start comparing yourself to them constantly, or maybe even act ruthlessly. Nowadays, teamwork is the order of the day in almost all job positions, which is why most companies attach great importance to the ability of their employees to work in a team. Many of the exercises in an assessment center are, therefore, aimed at the candidates’ capacity for teamwork. With an overly competitive stance, you will find it hard to convince the company of your own ability to work in a team.
6. Do not sweep your weaknesses under the carpet
Everybody has weaknesses and you had better assume that these will be addressed at an assessment center. With that said, pretending to be the only person in the world with strengths just does not make any sense at all. It is rather advisable to think about the consequences that your weaknesses might entail for your future job. You leave a much better impression on a company if you are able to realistically assess yourself and know how to deal with your personal weaknesses.
7. Be fit and well rested
It should go without saying that you show up well rested and not hung over at an assessment center. However, we added this tip to our list for the following reason. Quite often, assessment centers also include a social do in the evening, where alcohol is served. Of course, it is absolutely okay to have a drink or two, socializing with the company’s employees and chatting with your fellow candidates. However, even if other people raise their glasses all night long, don’t let yourself get carried away. On the one hand, you do not come across as an alcoholic, and on the other, your brains and body will thank you the next morning. Nothing could be more foolish than endangering your chances of success at the assessment center as a result of your intoxication.
8. Note the dress code
Just as for an ordinary job interview, don’t underestimate the importance of the dress code at an assessment center. It would be quite unpleasant to sit in between men in suits, wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Some companies will pass on some information about the dress code in advance. If that is not the case, choose an outfit that matches the company and industry standards. In conservative sectors (banks, insurance companies, etc.), choose a conservative outfit. If you are unsure about what to wear, it’s always recommended to rather overdress than underdress. And don’t forget to bring a second outfit for the social do in the evening.
9. Big Brother is watching you
Every assessment center has some breaks in between. However, be aware that the assessors do not stop doing their work, but take a very close look at how candidates behave during these breaks. Having a smoke outside all alone and fooling around with your smartphone will certainly not leave a particularly good impression on the company’s representatives. Instead, try to have some small talk with employees or other candidates. This will demonstrate that you are a social being who is good at interacting with other people. This is an important attribute in almost all jobs.
10. Stay cool
An assessment center is a fairly stressful event. Please realize that you will not succeed everywhere. You probably will not be able to solve certain tasks and exercises and you may cut a poor figure in a presentation or at an interview. Never mind! The assessors are going to evaluate you in terms of a “comprehensive package.” Not only does your performance in the various exercises, presentations, and interviews count, but also your resume and your personal appearance during the whole event.
Hopefully, our tips will help you successfully pass your next assessment center. Above all, it is our objective that you can experience the event in as stress-free a manner as possible. Further tips and tricks for mastering the tasks at an assessment center can be found under the following links: