Psst…. We have the answers.
Assessment centres are used by most major recruiters as part of their selection process for their graduate engineering schemes. Although the content varies from company to company there are numerous common elements.
Most assessment centres are designed around companies’ core competencies – the skills they need the most in their graduate engineers. Technical ability will obviously be tested, but be prepared to show your soft skills. There’s no point designing a brilliant new product or system if you can’t communicate the concept to colleagues, for example, or convince them of its potential value to the business.
- Interviews: technical interviews, competency-based interviews or both
- Group activities: these will often involve discussions and making decisions around a given business issue
- Giving a presentation: you may be given the topic in advance and it may be something like discussing a technical project you have been previously involved in. Other employers give the topic on the day itself. This will often relate to the business and may involve candidates doing fact finding or decision making.
- Tests: including psychometric tests, personality questionnaires, or test to check the basic understanding of engineering principles. Some employers also check candidates can extract relevant details from a large amount of information, and communicate the key points
The social side of assessment centres
Most assessment centres include opportunities to chat to recruiters or current employers. Use this chance to learn more about the business. Enthusiasm, interest in the company and good manners will go down well.
Dealing with assessment centres nerves
The more prepared you are the less nervous you will feel. Yan Zhou, a structural engineer and former Imperial College London student, talks about his preparation: ‘I collected information about the company and I tried to understand what kind of people the company was looking for. I also went to my careers service for advice and tips.’
Assessors will do their best to put you at your ease. Yan says, ‘In my technical interview, the engineers gave me clues when I was facing difficulties, which made it less stressful.’
Don’t start comparing yourself to other candidates. Employers are marking you against their selection criteria, not against other candidates. Keep the employer’s selection criteria in mind throughout the event.
Don’t shy away! However nervous you feel, remember that to succeed at an assessment centre you need to participate fully. If the assessors don’t see or hear anything from you, they can’t assess you. It is important to get your points across – but don’t be overbearing or rude.
You will have various opportunities to demonstrate your skills, so if you think you’ve not done so well on one activity, put it at the back of your mind and move on to the next task.
Finally, remember this is not just the employers assessing you; this is your chance to find out more about the organisation, and learn more about the values, structure and culture in the workplace.
For more career advice, search for graduate jobs and internships in the engineering sector please visit TARGETjobs Engineering
The UCL Careers Engineering fair on Monday 13th October is kindly sponsored by Targetjobs Engineering.