When you’re applying for a job, being invited to an assessment day can be intimidating. This usually happens in the later stages of the application process, after recruiters have performed preliminary screenings and narrowed down the pool of candidates.
During the assessment day, recruiters gather candidates together in one place, usually in an assessment center. Candidates will then have to complete a series of tasks and exercises throughout the day, with some of these requiring group participation.
It’s a more common practice among larger companies such as Accenture, IBM, and PwC. Companies can end up spending as high as $4000 on each candidate for assessment day, so only top candidates are invited and it can be very competitive.
Recruiters may not tell you about what’s exactly in store, but you can be more prepared by knowing about the most common tasks and exercises for assessment days:
Group exercises are often unavoidable during assessment days. After all, recruiters are choosing to bring several candidates together instead of meeting them separately.
With group exercises, recruiters can observe firsthand candidates’ social skills, communication styles, and willingness to work together as a team much better than with one-on-one interviews. Groups typically consist of eight to ten people.
Some recruiters assign ice-breakers such as giving toothpicks and marshmallows to each group, with the challenge of building a tower. Others give more challenging tasks, such as analyzing case studies or discussing news topics as a group.
Instead of formal group exercises, it’s also possible that recruiters will simply observe how you interact with other candidates during breaks.
For job positions where you’ll be doing public speaking regularly, you may have to do a presentation for the assessment day. Because this won’t be announced in advance, recruiters will usually give you ten to thirty minutes to prepare.
The presentation theme will be closely related to the job position–if you’re in sales, you might be tasked to pitch a product, while business analysts might have to interpret raw data about the company.
You will likely present to several panelists. Recruiters will be assessing you based on several factors. Aside from your delivery and presentation skills, they will also be looking at your critical thinking ability and how well you can think on your feet.
More companies are using psychometric tests for recruitment to evaluate the personality and problem-solving skills of job candidates.
Psychometric tests are objective and standardized, and recruiters typically have a minimum score in mind for passing the candidate.
There are many different kinds of pre-employment psychometric tests, but the most popular are aptitude tests. These assess your reasoning abilities in specific areas, from visual-spatial awareness to reading comprehension.
Some popular examples of these are Wonderlic, TalentQ, and SHL tests. You might also have to take personality tests, which look at different personal qualities such as your communication style or your openness to new experiences.
Many job roles involve juggling multiple tasks, and recruiters may want to know how well candidates can handle this in real-time. Instead of simply asking you about it during the interview, they may set up an in-tray exercise.
You will be presented with different situations where you have to decide how you’ll prioritize certain tasks. Tasks can involve emails, client meetings, business reports, and billings, and you’ll be ranking them based on the order in which you’ll do them.
The situations are usually written down, and you’ll be given a time limit for answering all of them. This can take 30 minutes or 2 hours depending on the length of the number of items.
Some recruiters will even add a second part to the exercise, where you’ll explain the reasoning behind your answers.
Although each company has a unique style when it comes to assessment days, these are the most common exercises that you’ll encounter.
If it’s the last phase before the employer chooses who to hire, then interviews might also be conducted then.
While spending the entire day being evaluated can sound tough, going to an assessment day is already a good sign because companies only reach out to top candidates.