Once you successfully get through the first stage of the application process to the next round – you’re on your way from being a possible employee to a probable employee and should feel proud that your application has impressed your potential employers.
There are, however, a number of ways in which an employer may assess your suitability for a job in further stages. Understanding the different types of selection processes along with what’s expected of you can go a long way to increasing your chances of a successful outcome.
Selection processes can seem like a very large hill to climb, however, if you’re well prepared and truly suited to the organisation, it’s likely you’ll enjoy many parts of the process and the process will help you decide if you want to join.
Psychometric tests, also known as aptitude tests, are designed to test a range of skills including verbal, numerical, abstract and logical reasoning. These may be done either before or at an interview or assessment centre. Employers expect candidates to show some familiarity with the process and expect you to work accurately with attention to detail – make sure you read all instructions carefully and fully understand them before answering the questions. They do want to see that you can work at a quick steady pace, however, rushing and answering more questions incorrectly will impress less than if you answer slightly fewer questions, in the time given, but answer them correctly. Practising in advance will give you some level of familiarity and comfort with these tests and, hopefully, enable you to perform better at assessment. You can find information on psychometric tests along with practice tests on our website.
Other tests may take the form of personality questionnaires and situational judgment tests. Both are designed to assess your fit with the organisation and you should answer as genuinely and truthfully as possible about what your preferences are or what your chosen course of action would be. If your answers are not what the employer is looking for then the likelihood is that you are not a good fit for each other, and you should be opting to work in an environment that is a good match for you too!
Telephone and video interviews
Many employers use telephone or video interviews to assess candidates in a time and resource effective manner before shortlisting further to face-to-face assessment. Treat these just as importantly as you would any other interview. Prepare in the same way and ensure that, at the time of your interview, you are in a quiet room where you cannot be disturbed or distracted. Keep your CV to hand and, if it helps, have a few post-it notes in front of you or around your computer screen with key words that will remind you of the main issues you wish to highlight in your answers. Don’t write out a script because you’ll sound awkward and unnatural and won’t come across well. Finally, smile, even if the interviewer can’t see you as you will feel more positive and relaxed and that will come across to the interviewer. Take a look at our website for more and book a practice interview if you have one coming up.
Interviews may take place as part of an assessment centre or as a stand-alone assessment and may involve just one recruiter or a panel. Finding out in advance what to expect will mean you face no surprises on the day and may help you prepare appropriately. If you are facing a panel, knowing what roles the interviewers do themselves may give you some insight as to what kinds of questions they may be likely to ask you.
Try and relax and remember the interviewer(s) are just people and want you to perform well. If you face a panel make sure you engage with all members of the panel, not just the one who is asking you a question. Feel free to take a moment before delivering an answer to consider the question and ensure you have a clear idea of what you are going to say before you start speaking. Take a look at our website for more and book a practice interview if you have one coming up.
Case study interviews
Case study interviews will involve you being given information or a scenario relevant to the role you are applying for. You will be given a set amount of time to work through the information, form conclusions, and possibly make recommendations which you will then present back to the assessor. Employers are looking for evidence of analytical and problem solving skills, a candidates ability to impose a clear structure to the answer and an ability to pick out key pieces of information and, potentially show initiative and/or creativity in responses.
Check your understanding of what is required of you and articulate your thoughts so the assessor understands how you are approaching the study. More often than not the employer is looking at how you reach your conclusions and that is more important than landing on the exact correct answer, which in some cases may not be possible anyway.
These exercises take place at an assessment centre and are designed to assess your teamwork skills alongside your analytical and problem solving skills. You may be working on a work related task, an activity, or taking part in a group debate.
There are a number of ways you can stand out in this type of assessment. Employers do not want to see extremes of behaviours such as being overly dominant or overly reserved, they want to see people who behave normally but contribute effectively. Do get your point across and ensure you are heard but at the same time show respect to your fellow candidates, listen to what they have to say, and be prepared to compromise when appropriate. By making sure at the start everyone in your group has a good understanding of the task and its objective, by drawing out quieter members of the group, and by keeping track of time whilst ensuring your team stay focused on the task and leading them towards the end objective, you will stand out to assessors as the candidate to watch!
Employers want to meet candidates with strong communication skills who can deliver key messages with confidence. You may be given a topic to prepare in advance of an interview or assessment centre or you may be given it on the day itself. Focus your presentation around one key message and make sure you get that message across clearly. Make sure all other aspects of your presentation support that key message and deliver it in a clear, easy to follow manner. Structure it well with a beginning (introducing what you are going to talk about), a middle (your key message), and an end (a recap of what you’ve presented).
If you’re using visual aids such as slides or a flip chart keep each slide/page simple and uncluttered. They are there simply to back up what you are saying but the focus of your audience should be on you, not your visual aids.
Networking and social sessions
Many assessment centres will have either a lunch or some kind of opportunity for you to meet company employees and talk to fellow candidates in a more social surrounding. You’re unlikely to be formally assessed in this situation but you will still be being viewed so want to make sure you create the right impression.
Remember a glass of wine is fine but four or five won’t be! Avoid controversial topics such as religion or politics (unless you’re interviewing for a government post in which case an educated opinion may well be appropriate). Use the opportunity to find out what you really want to know about the organisation and the role and try to ask questions that were difficult to research beforehand and that you genuinely want to know the answer to. It’s important to speak to a range of employees, don’t make the mistake of only targeting the most senior person at the event, every employee can give you a good insight into the company. Try to ask mindful questions that take into account the persons role within the company, this way you will learn more and instantly appear like you have done your research. It’s perfectly ok to discuss mutually enjoyable topics that are not related to work as often these events are an opportunity to find out if you really suit the culture. We have a number of ways you can improve your networking skills and put them into practice.