Assessment Centre Clinic – Part 2
This post is part of the Trainee Solicitor Surgery Assessment Centre Clinic blog post series. Start at the beginning of the series here…
Performing Well At Assessment Centres
An invitation to a training contract or vacation scheme assessment centre is, no doubt, a very positive step forward. Your initial application has been read, has made the right impression, and the firm is keen to find out more about you. However, your training contract isn’t ‘in the bag’ just yet.
Having previously established just how important the assessment centre is (and remember, we’re talking about the WHOLE assessment centre – not just the interview) it is worth focusing on some of the Do’s and Don’ts that are going to help you perform well on the day.
DO gather as much information as possible about the day and what it involves.
Sounds obvious, but knowledge really is power. If the firm hasn’t provided you detailed information on the schedule for the day or, if there is something you want to find out more about, then there is nothing wrong with phoning them up and asking. The very worst that can do is make you look keen and enthusiastic and it will help you focus your preparation on what really matters.
DO spend time preparing for each and every test and exercise.
It’s not all about the interview. You need to make sure you are performing to the best of your abilities in each and every test and exercise. Like with most things, it’s a case of ‘practice makes perfect’ so spend time familiarising yourself with and, if possible, practising examples of the tests and exercises you are going to face (see our Assessment Centre Practice Tests and Assessment Centre Practice Exercises). Not only will this help you complete your tasks better on the day but it will increase your confidence going into the assessment centre.
For the more subjective assessments such as the group exercise and the interview, it is crucial that you re-familiarise yourself with the values and competencies that the firm are looking for, and be sure to bring these out throughout the day.
DO show courtesy to everyone you meet
Big Brother is watching you. It’s not just the interviewers and assessors who will be making notes on your interactions. Remember that everyone you meet – from the receptionist who greets you when you walk through the door to the trainee that sits next to you during your lunch break – may well be asked their opinion on how you came across.
Courtesy should stretch to your fellow candidates as well. They may well be your competitors for the job but being affable towards them will not only help you make a more positive impact, but it will help you genuinely enjoy the day more.
DO be prepared to ask questions
Most assessment centres will provide you with at least one opportunity, aside from the actual interview, to ask questions to current members of staff. This may be following a company presentation or it may be during lunch or break-out session. It is advisable to prepare a few intelligent questions that you can ask at such points, in order to show enthusiasm and also to be memorable.
Make sure you’ve done thorough research on the firm beforehand so that your questions are appropriate. You may want to ask about aspects of their training programme, for example, or a question relating to their legal specialisms. Always be sure to ask questions that you wouldn’t be able to find out the answer to yourself by doing your own research.
DO be yourself and try to have fun
Easier said than done, perhaps, but view the day as a wonderful opportunity. And the best way to make the most of this opportunity really is to relax, to be yourself and try to enjoy the experience. Take in everything around you and be excited by the opportunity to discover more about the firm. Don’t try and be the person that you think they are looking for – just be you. You were invited to the assessment centre because they liked your application and believe you may have something to offer them so be true to yourself throughout the day.