Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dealing with assessment centers: personal lessons

I am not sure how to explain it, but for the me most difficult part in the job search process is getting to the interview stage. Maybe I just don´t have the winning CV, not matter how much it gets reviewed and re-rewiewed by Career Services and peers. However, once I get to talk to a live person on the other side of the fence, everything goes nice and smoothly. To prove that... all assessment centers I have gone through so far - passed all!
Anyway... yesterday I had coffee with my friend Anton who is travelling to Bonn next week for his DHL Inhouse Consulting assessment, so he asked me for advice or any tips that would help him do better. The recommendations I gave him (in concurrence with my friend, who is an expert at SHL, a company specializing in assessment centers and global talent management) were only three, and that is exactly what I try to do every time I face a panel of assessors:

  • Don't try to be someone who you are not. It is risky and won't get you far. Trying out new uncustomary behavioral models in the assessment itself will push you off guard and you will reveal even more negative information about yourself than you would if you behaved normally. You will only get more nervous and artificial, and such things are easily picked up by trained assessors.
  • Manage your time. This one is critical. The exercises are composed in such a way, that you should only have enough to cast a cursory glance at the materials, identify the key issues and prepare your plan of attack. Nobody expects you to be precise and comprehensive, vice versa - your ability to prioritize and pinpoint the essential is more important.
  • Boost your attitude. Don't give up if you feel that you have not done everything right. In a correctly composed assessment, there will be at least two different exercising designed to measure a specific competency. So even if you feel that you have bombed one exercise, there will be at least another opportunity to redeem yourself. Thus, keep your nose up at all times!
Besides, have at least five copies of your resume with you, be smartly dressed, try to establish personal connections with the assessors and the candidates, and remember that it is a learning and netwroking opportunity - make the most out of it.

Good luck!


    1. I think I have the same issue, at least lately. Generally if I get to a full interview things go well, but even positions that I seem a perfect match for I don't get a call back with just a CV. Having a contact seems to be the only way to go in this climate.

      I tried applying to DHL Inhouse Consulting myself last month, but didn't hear anything back. I think getting past the CV screen nowadays is by far the hardest thing to do. Interviews, if one is prepared, go pretty well.

    2. yeah, that's the trick with all those automated questionnaires (i wrote about it already http://hrboutique.blogspot.com/2011/03/online-assessment-tools.html). we all know how to throw around 10-dollar words and BCG frameworks, but actually weaseling through the rigid sieves of online tools probably should be another MBA skills we have to master.

    3. Congratulations Sergey, for successfully clearing the Momentum assessment. I must say, your writing skills are exceptionally good.
      I have telephonic interview scheduled tomorrow for Momentum, any tips or suggestions you would like share.

      Thanks. Ajaz

    4. Hi Ajaz, sorry I have just seen your comment and maybe this advice is already late but... when you are getting ready for an interview, telephonic or not:

      - be prepared to substantiate any claims made on your CV with numbers, figures, dates, names, etc.
      - enquire the interviewer about the structure or the purpose of the questions. normally, they will do so themselves at the beginning, but if not, you need to know what it is that they are looking for to make your answers more precise.
      - have a list of solid strategic questions about the company, your potential role and your career with Prudential (or any other company you are being interviewed at). This will demonstrate your interest and also you will find out more about the nature of your potential job.

      Hope this helps. Good luck!

    5. Hi Sergey, Thanks for the advice. Just finished my telephonic interview and It went pretty good (that's what I feel).

      Thanks again.

      Have a nice day!!


    6. I like all three suggestions, that is really useful for the coming interview :) Thanks



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