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You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore. –Christopher Columbus

Assessment and Career Guidance service

About assessment

Good employers go to great lengths to match people to the right jobs. Since we spend between a quarter and a third of our time at work, it’s important that our abilities and interests fit the requirements of the role.

Employers will consider what behaviours and abilities are required for good job performance. These are often described in terms of competencies. Competencies are a combination of "behaviours" that lead to high performance in the role. To measure an individual’s competencies, employers may use tests, interviews, and other assessment tools.

Remember that selection is a two-way process in which both you and the organisation make a choice – and the choice has to be right for both of you.

Assessment Methods

The way people are selected varies greatly from one employer to another. The selection process may involve several stages. Every stage of the process should be designed to clearly assess your ability to do the job that you are applying for.

You may experience the following methods of assessment

CV and Application Form

Employers will look for a match between your experience and qualifications and the requirements of the job. Remember that interviewers are likely to ask you questions based upon the information you have included in your CV, so it is essential to be relevant, honest, and succinct. Remember that potential employers may have many CVs to read through and will often check the accuracy of the information you provide.

Ability Tests

Employers will look for a match between your experience and qualifications and the requirements of the job. Remember that interviewers are likely to ask you questions based upon the information you have included in your CV, so it is essential to be relevant, honest, and succinct. Remember that potential employers may have many CVs to read through and will often check the accuracy of the information you provide.

Personality Questionnaires

Personality Questionnaires look at behavioural preferences, that is, how you like to work. They are not concerned with your abilities, but how you see yourself in terms of your personality; for example, the way you relate to others, and how you deal with feelings and emotions. There are no rights or wrongs in behavioural style, although some behaviours may be more or less appropriate to certain situations.

Situational Judgement Tests

Situational judgement tests are used to assess your ability to choose the most appropriate action in workplace situations. They involve reading a scenario or watching an animation and selecting the response that most effectively deal with the situation. These assessments are designed to assess how you would handle situations that you could encounter in a specific job.

Assessment Centre Exercises

These exercises are designed to simulate a particular task or scenario relevant to the target job, and it should be clear what kinds of skills are being assessed.

Examples include the following:

  • Group exercises.
  • Presentations.
  • Role plays.

During an assessment, a group of candidates take part in a range of exercises, which are observed by assessors. The assessors rate the performance of the candidates against the competencies required for the joInterviews

Questions are likely to be based around your experience as well as the job competencies and requirements that should have been detailed in the advertisement. The key is to remember to be honest and to use relevant examples from your career, studies, or private life that provide evidence to the interviewers of any skills being discussed.

Assessment Tips

Applying for jobs and going through the recruitment and assessment process can be daunting, but you can take several actions to give yourself the best chance of success. Employers will assess you against other job candidates, but remember that you need to make a choice too. Take the opportunity to ask questions, and be sure that if you are offered a role, it is the right job and working environment for you.

Take a look at our advice for each stage of the recruitment process and good luck!

Before Applying

Spend some time carefully evaluating whether the job is really suitable for you by asking yourself the following questions.

  • What are the demands and rewards offered by the job?
  • What does the job offer me in terms of my career prospects and interests?
  • When I look at the organisation, do I feel comfortable with their values and image?

When Applying

  • Apply in the format requested by the company (e.g., application form or CV).
  • Follow the instructions carefully.
  • Include any information specifically requested.
  • Make your achievements and skills clear; this is not a place for modesty.
  • Draw up a list of your strengths and weaknesses in relation to the job.
  • Ensure that you can describe yourself and your experiences in and out of work. Be prepared to give examples.

Before the Assessment

  • Apply in the format requested by the company (e.g., application form or CV).
  • Follow the instructions carefully.
  • Include any information specifically requested.
  • Make your achievements and skills clear; this is not a place for modesty.
  • Draw up a list of your strengths and weaknesses in relation to the job.
  • Ensure that you can describe yourself and your experiences in and out of work. Be prepared to give examples.

During the Assessment

  • When completing assessments online, read through the instructions carefully and complete all practice and example questions.
  • When doing face-to-face exercises, assessors will be looking at how you perform on the exercises themselves, rather than how well you understand the instructions, so listen carefully to the instructions. Don't be afraid to ask if you are unsure about what you have to do.
  • Don’t assume about how you should respond. If you try to guess what the assessors are looking for, you may be wrong. It is best to be yourself, and respond honestly. Remember that it’s not in your interest to take a job to which you are not well suited.
  • If the assessment involves interviews, team exercises, or role-playing, pay attention to your non-verbal signals, such as eye contact, facial expression, and gestures.
  • If there is more than one exercise, you will have other opportunities to show what you can do. If you feel you have performed poorly on one exercise, don’t give up. Your performance across all of them will be taken into account.

After the Assessment

Many organisations will offer you feedback, regardless of your success. This may give you insight into your strengths and areas for improvement as well as your future development. If feedback is not offered, ask if it can be made available.

Advice to graduates

Times are tough. With many graduates and fewer jobs, graduates are facing a challenging job market. As companies are limiting their graduate recruitment, a degree by no means guarantees finding a job. Below you will find advice on how to increase your chances.

Don’t wait until you graduate.

Graduate recruiters are increasingly looking for innovative ways to identify high-quality talent in an ever-more competitive marketplace – this includes sourcing talent earlier. Second-year programmes are a way to actively engage with recruitment processes before you graduate. Attracting and recruiting graduates is increasingly a year-round "business as usual" activity.

Develop your "employability" skills.

Even being on target for a first-class honours degree and having a strong commercial awareness is not enough to secure a graduate position. Find out what skills prospective employers want you to have, and take the lead in developing them as much as possible.

Get work experience.

Work experience is essential. It facilitates graduate employment and also builds valuable skills that support employability more generally. Nearly two-thirds of recruiters warn that graduates with no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful.

Almost all leading UK graduate employers offer work experience programmes for students and recent graduates. The importance of work experience is echoed by the European talent acquisition manager at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, where a variety of work experience and placement schemes are in operation: “We see work experience as key. While it’s great if a candidate has been on a formal programme, any customer-facing role can be very helpful.”

Develop a professional online profile.

Graduate recruiters are increasingly looking at social media as a way to source, target, and reach the best candidates. Make sure they find you by creating a professional online profile (e.g., on LinkedIn) that is separate from your personal profile.

Differentiate yourself.

Ensure career development is high on your agenda: some graduate recruiters receive 250 applications per role. Differentiate yourself so you are more appealing to recruiters. It is also important to be clear about why you want to work for the particular organisation to which you are applying.

Practice makes perfect!

With more graduate recruiters looking at objective methods to select candidates for their graduate programmes, prepare yourself and practise the types of assessment they will ask you to take.

Talent with Disabilities

We are fully committed to supporting candidates with disabilities who apply for jobs with organisations using our assessments. Most of our assessments can be adjusted to better suit individuals with disabilities such as visual impairment, hearing loss, mobility impairments, learning difficulties, mental health issues, and disfigurement. We help recruiters by providing guidance and best practice on reasonable adjustments to assessments to make your experience as smooth and fair as possible.

Examples of possible assessment adjustments include the following:

  • Support for screen readers on online tests for candidates with visual impairments.
  • Adding additional time to timed tests for candidates with dyslexia or motor impairments.
  • Adjustment to test presentation for candidates with dyslexia or visual impairments.
  • Large print format tests on screen or on paper for candidates with visual impairments.
  • Braille printed tests on paper for candidates with visual impairments.
  • Supporting candidates with hearing loss by providing text scripts of voice sections on video or avatar-based tests.

If you have a disability that you think may affect the assessment you have been asked to complete, it is in your interest to make the recruiting organisation aware of this as early as possible in the application process.

For example, if you have been invited to an assessment centre and you have a disability that may affect your performance in any of the exercises mentioned, discuss the matter with the organisation before you attend. If you have special requirements, it is also advisable to declare this beforehand. The organisation may then be able to make suitable, reasonable adjustments to help you show them how good you really are. If you don’t let them know until the day of the assessment, it’s likely that the adjustments and accommodations they can make will be more limited.

The law and guidelines regarding what employers and recruiting organisations should do and need to do to accommodate your requests differ by country, so it is important for you to know the local regulations.