How to Prepare for Virtual Assessment Centres
Introduction to virtual assessment centres
Often the last stage of a recruitment process, assessment centres involve a number of applicants in a combination of activities and tasks that test your suitability for the job and company. Traditionally, these would take place in the workplace or the head office, but since COVID-19 and related lockdowns, the move to virtual assessment centres has become the norm. Guest contributor Nikki explains what to expect and how to prepare for them.
Whilst the pandemic has limited options for employment, for many organisations it has been pretty much business as usual in terms of recruitment, so the move to virtual solutions to find new employees has been necessary. Companies like EY, Thames Water, Google, and KPMG have moved to virtual assessment centres. More than a third of all employers complete their recruitment process with an assessment centre, so as a graduate, there is a high probability that you will encounter one at some point.
Traditional, in-person assessment centres would often take the best part of a day, with breaks for refreshment and lunch. Virtual assessment centres, on the other hand, tend to be a bit shorter, maybe 2-3 hours as a guide – although there are still comfort and refreshment breaks built in.
As we move past the pandemic and the world begins to open up, virtual assessment centres are likely to become a permanent fixture in recruitment because they offer a level of simplicity to the process for the recruiters, and in many cases, the candidate too.
What does a virtual assessment centre involve?
For graduates heading for a virtual assessment, knowing what to expect from the experience will help you feel more prepared. The session usually includes the following activities:
- Seminars – information sessions where candidates can learn more about the role and the wider business.
- Individual exercises – these might be based on case studies and may involve a presentation.
- Group exercises – as with in-person assessment centres, you will need to work with others to solve an issue – it might be another case study, a problem-solving scenario or a role play exercise such as a mock meeting.
- Psychometric tests – candidates might have already completed some of these earlier in the recruitment process, but other tests such as in-tray exercises and personality questionnaires could be on the cards.
- Question-and-answer sessions – a great chance to get more specific information about any questions you may have regarding the role, or the wider business.
- Interviews – there might be one-to-one interviews with line managers and senior staff, as well as panel interviews.
Recruiters know that the nature of virtual assessment needs extra time and support to prevent technical and connection issues – so this is usually built into the time allotted for each stage. Some of the assessment centre sessions might be live – like the seminars and Q&A sections, but others could feature pre-recorded segments, requiring you to video answers and send them through.
The virtual assessment is usually based on video conferencing software or a specially designed platform – either way, you will receive full details about when and how to log in. You will get information including a timetable and what to ‘bring’ with you – although you will usually be at home when you take part, you might need pen and paper for example.
How to prepare
You will be given all the information you need to complete the virtual assessment centre beforehand, including technical details and who to contact if there are any problems. Make sure the device you are using is fully charged, the wi-fi is well-connected and you have already downloaded any software that is required.
You will need to make sure that your video and sound is good enough. Consider using headphones so that the sound is clear, and make sure you have sufficient lighting for the webcam to work.
Treat it like a face-to-face interview
Although you will probably be taking the virtual assessment centre at home, make sure that you are dressed as well as you would be if you were attending in person. Try to make sure that your background is neutral and uncluttered, and remember that you are almost always on camera!
Once you have the information about what will happen during the assessment centre, take some time to practise the activities and exercises. There are several dedicated sites online that can offer candidates the opportunity to try the assessments and see how they might need to improve. Practice is also a great way to gain confidence for the whole experience, too.
Do your research
Learn all you can about the employer, the culture, and the wider business sector before the assessment centre. This will enable you to understand more about how you will fit in the business, but also help you to plan interesting questions to ask during the sessions. Think about questions before you start.
The virtual assessment centre is an opportunity for the recruitment team to see you, and this means you need to demonstrate the skills and attributes that they are looking for. Make sure you contribute to the group exercises, be confident and competent, and demonstrate active listening when you are not contributing. Use the virtual assessment centre as a place to showcase why you are the best candidate for the role – by being yourself.
About the Author
Nikki Dale is a freelance content creator who loves to write – and having entered the working world as a graduate from Staffordshire University, she loves writing articles for Fintest to help fellow graduates get through sometimes complicated recruitment processes.
As a busy mum of two, life is never boring – but she always finds time to get outside with her rescue dog, and loves exercise classes, horse riding and reading.
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