This might sound a bit unusual. The idea here is to do the best that’s in the control of the applicant. Of course, within the bounds of fairness and honesty! Most job offers are given after a set of interviews. However, employers have realized the limitations of interview as a tool for recruiting and hence, invest in the new-age tools like assessment centre.
A well-designed assessment tool is a cascade of tasks or experiences that an applicant is subjected to. The behaviors of the applicants are observed by trained assessors and the same are compared against the desirable set of behaviors for the role. The cascade of tools is designed in such a way that an applicant cannot beat the tool easily. So, what preparation can one do?
First things first, one needs to understand the role well and the context in which the role-holder has to perform. This will help one empathise with the role and get into the shoes of the role-holder. This is easier said than done. It requires one to carry out secondary research as well as primary research about the company, industry sector and the role. There are enough secondary sources such as news, websites, catalogues, industry forums, blogs, customer feedbacks, partner experiences, feedback from ex-employees and current employees. Primary sources are employees in the company, reporting senior for the role, peers of the role, voices of current customers and partners. There could be tonnes of information available and given the paucity of time, one could get inundated with it. Hence, making a list of questions helps in doing this research.
Armed with such information, one can decide if the role is still interesting. If not, it’s advisable to drop off rather than giving it a try, risking your time as well as theirs. If the role is attractive, one should list down the possible outcomes that the role needs to deliver. Being able to define these finely, is the most important point here. For example, a Business Leader has to deliver a revenue target. This is not a great finding of the research. The point here is to go beyond the obvious and discovering the nuggets of insight about the role, for example, need to introduce innovative products in the portfolio, revamping the reward mechanism for the customer service staff of the company, sustain the hyper-competitive culture in the company. A well-designed assessment test translates such finer aspects into desirable behavioural traits and looks for those in the candidates through a battery of events that the test-takers go through. Hence, groundwork is a must!
Secondly, it’s about staying calm and being oneself. At times, we hurry many things in life and fail to be ourselves even during the most crucial moments of life. One should be prepared for the uncommon events and accordingly do everything right from planning the travel to the venue to the attire, the mobile phone ringer, assimilating the instructions and acting accordingly.
Last but not the least, one must not try to beat the test or the process. Second-guessing the desirable outcomes will only defocus and distract the participant. It is not easy to manage the impressions always. Even if one manages to beat the process, most jobs in the world today incorporate a high level of performance metrics and hence, the lack of fitment for the job will show up in the results eventually. Such gaps aren’t going to be easy to ignore and hence, the going will get tough! It will be like jumping off the frying pan to the fire. The experience in an assessment centre is likely to give a unique experience to the participant and help one realize one’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s wise to operate in the area of strength rather than trying to play in the weak areas. This discovery could help each participant go away with a great sense of self-confidence. Hence, going through the process with all honesty, open mind and energy is always advisable.
The assessors are trained to spot the bright sparks and sustained demonstration of the behavours that the role demands. Hence, it’s an enriching experience that one can leverage well. One needs to find the fine print, stay calm and be oneself all along! It’s likely that the job offer will come your way!