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How to Stand Out at Assessment Days

How to Stand Out at Assessment Days

A row of light bulbs with only one lit against a grey background.

Applying for a job in a Graduate Programme? Here are some assessment day tips to help you stand out from the crowd.

If you’re applying for a graduate scheme then you’ll probably have to attend an assessment centre as part of the application process. This is a common part of graduate programmes and certainly part of FDM’s application process. We choose this method as it enables us to assess candidates for a range of skills including: technical, numerical, interpersonal and teamwork.

As part of the grad recruitment and events team here at FDM, I know the ins and outs of what your future employer is looking for. An important part of my role is running assessment centres - and they get pretty busy. With up to 20 candidates attending one centre, it’s essential you stand out and show the assessors what you’re capable of. Here are a few key tips to helping you stand out at these all important grad recruitment assessment days and to help you on the way to a great graduate job!

Do your research

Obviously a key part of preparing for assessment centres and interviews is doing research about the company you are applying for. A great way to stand out is to go that bit further and also do thorough research of the industry as a whole. If you're applying to FDM's Graduate Programme, this means researching the IT industry and its growth in the last few years, keeping up to date with relevant IT news and researching the company’s competitors. This gives you an idea of opportunities and threats to the organisation you are applying for and shows how enthusiastic and clued up you are. Having that extra knowledge will set you apart from other candidates and prove how keen you are to land a great graduate job!

Have confidence and don’t be afraid to speak up

Whether it’s volunteering to go first when the group is asked to introduce themselves or taking a lead in a group exercise, try and highlight your communication skills and confidence! During introductions and group tasks people can be scared to go first; I take notice when people offer to go first and break the ice and I always make a note of it and remember them. Do be aware of when it’s appropriate to speak up – you don’t want to interrupt people or come across as overly loud, so use your common sense to know when to speak and when to listen.

Work well with others

Whilst you want to stand out, working as a team is a key attribute assessors will be looking for in candidates for a graduate scheme. Assessment centres often start with a group exercise to look at your team-working skills. By all means stand out and have the confidence to feedback on behalf of your team to get yourself noticed. However be aware that during the exercise you need to show you are a team player and not come across as domineering. It’s important to encourage quieter members of your team to contribute and listen to everyone’s views/thoughts – recognising other’s talents and knowing when to use them is just as valuable a skill as showcasing your own.

Make conversation

Don’t be afraid of talking to whoever’s running the day. In between tests or interviews, make conversation with the assessors and the other candidates as well. You are being assessed throughout the whole day and it’s a great way to show you have good interpersonal and networking skills. Keep the conversation professional however and make sure you are not interrupting the day.

Best of luck with any upcoming graduate recruitment assessment days!

Are you interested in training for a career in IT or business intelligence? You can do so on our award-winning Graduate Careers Programme, Ex-Forces Careers Programme or Getting Back to Business Programme.

Featured image credit: Photo by ColiN00B on Pixabay

Updated 20 June, 2019


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