Gwyn Day's 5 top tips to ace your Assessment Centre

Wondering how to excel when it comes to assessment centres? Leading communications consultant Gwyn Day shares his unmissable advice. 

1. Be commercially aware

Assessment Centre interviews and/or presentations almost always contain a Commercial Awareness component.

This is something that cannot be crammed but needs to be built up over a period of time through reading the financial / business press, joining appropriate university societies and watching channels like Bloomberg T.V.  At the very least check the firm's specific and latest news as available on their website/blog or by Googling.

2. Refresh your reasoning

Firms will often repeat part or all of the online reasoning tests done at an earlier stage of the application process to weed out candidates who got someone else to complete their test or cheated in some other way.

Some firms tell you they are going to do this and some just spring it on you as an extra exercise.

3. Negotiation

On negotiation exercises ALWAYS decide on your 'must haves' and the areas you are flexible on and remember to 'second position' i.e. put yourself in your opponent’s shoes and think what their strategy might be and how you will counter it.

When negotiating ALMOST NEVER give any concessions away. Trade them - you offer something, you should want to get something in return.

4. Be reflective

Throughout the Assessment Centre day, be aware of what and how others are doing as well as tracking your own performance.

As soon as you leave the Assessment Centre, it is worth making notes on your reflections. It is common that if you are called back for final round interview, or if there are afternoon interviews after morning assessment centre exercises, for you to be asked to critique both strategy and individual performance.

5. Get familiar with situational judgement tests

...where you are given a work based scenario and either have to say what you would do from a list of alternative actions or rank a list of responses from best to worst.

This is where a sound knowledge of the firm comes in handy, as you will already be familiar with company culture, ethos and the weighting they give to key soft skills such as autonomy versus teamwork. Firms say you can't beat these...you can.