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What to expect from a Marketing or Consumer assessment centre

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Assessment Centres are now becoming a standard way of recruiting new marketing graduates.  It’s an opportunity for employers to assess your skills in action and to see whether you might be a good fit for their business. It’s also a good chance for you to get to know your potential employer a bit better too. During this process, you will undertake a range of tasks which will include presentations and group exercises. 

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The exercises you take part in will vary from assessment centre to assessment centre and some companies may call it by a different name. Often, by the time you are invited to an assessment centre, you will already have had a general phone interview and sometimes a psychometric test.

Outlined below is a general overview as to what you can expect at an assessment centre if you’re after a marketing/brand role.

First impressions and social interaction

Even though assessment days are structured, formal occasions, there will be general social times where you will be free to speak to fellow candidates and employers. It’s important to use these times well even though you’re not being formally assessed.

Your general behaviour will make an impression and it’s important you use this time positively. Assessors are trying to get an idea about you as a person as well as what skills you can offer. They want to see how you might fit into their work place so be friendly and chatty over break times and lunch. But always remain professional.

Click here for advice on face-to-face interviews.

Group exercises and discussion

One of the key skills tested at an assessment centre is team-working, and you should aim to make a positive contribution to group exercises without being domineering.

Often, the group exercise is the core piece of the assessment day. Depending on the area of branding/marketing/consumerism that you’re applying for, you will be expected to explore a course of action based on the information you have been given in your briefing paper or case study. For instance, the questions/scenarios posed may involve the following:

Finding solutions to particular budget and strategy issues

  • Pitching a product line to various retail stores
  • Planning an advertising campaign for a new product. Devising straplines and messages, proposing design ideas and logos, and choosing advertising mediums
  • Deciding where to promote your stock/which item to promote that month if you’re at an assessment centre for a large retail corporation
  • Usually, this group discussion takes between 1-2 hours.
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Usually there is about 20 minutes to feed back your presentation. Sometimes you are required to do this in a group presentation and sometimes on an individual basis. Often this presentation is made to a single assessor rather than to the whole group of candidates, so is less daunting. However, be prepared for both options as each company is different.

Generally, the presentation will require you to demonstrate your knowledge of the case study; its solutions, creative ideas, competition awareness and potential profitability.  Generally you’ll face a Q&A with the assessors at the end so it’s important you find your opportunity to answer these without fading into the background or taking over from the other candidates.

Top Tips for Writing a Great Application for the Consumer & Retail Sector

Psychometric tests and interviews

Finally, the assessment day may finish with a face to face interview as well as a psychometric test if not already undertaken prior to the assessment day. Find out more general information about psychometric tests here.

The interview is likely to be with senior management and/or an HR representative. This will be mostly competency-based but will also test your knowledge of the company, the graduate scheme and what your role will involve.

You will also need to showcase your knowledge and passion for brands and consumerism and you may be expected to do a presentation. This is often notified to you in advance so you can come prepared. The presentation may be required about the company itself so make sure you undertake good research, focus on the customer – think about demographic and consider your consumers’ needs.

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