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If you’re a recent graduate and new to the world of full-time work, the chances are you’ve designed a CV, written cover letters and attended interviews before. Attending an assessment day, on the other hand, is likely to be a new experience- and it can be difficult to know what the assessors will be looking for. In this post, Venatrix CEO Elaine Tyler shares the qualities she looks for in new recruits- and how you can show you’ve got them.
The assessment centre is a high-pressure setting; you might be competing with twenty, even thirty other candidates for precious few jobs. Confidence and energy are crucial to succeeding in the roles I recruit for, so it’s vital that you make your voice heard- speak up in discussions and take charge in group exercises. Just as important, though, and often overlooked, is the willingness to listen. Businesses want to hire graduates who learn quickly; who follow instructions, take criticism on board, and give thoughtful answers to the questions they’re asked. On your assessment day, therefore, make sure you’re being responsive. In group discussions, try to answer or build on other candidates’ ideas. Make sure you’ve understood instructions or questions before you dive in. And- the easiest possible way to show you’re listening- take notes!
Top tip: Assessment centres often include presentations- a prospective employer might give an overview of their business, or there might be a more general talk about an industry. Show you’re switched on by remembering details from the presentation and using them in activities or interviews later in the day.
The most successful people, in my experience, are open-minded and optimistic: they come to assessment days prepared to tell me why they love the sound of the jobs on offer. This might include specific tasks and duties, or it might be about the opportunities for learning and advancement that a role within a particular business or industry presents. What could this job teach you that would benefit you throughout your career?
Top tip: Remember- be genuine! As a salesperson, you won’t be able to shift so much as a biro if you’re not convinced of its value; equally, at the assessment day, you’ll be far better at selling yourself if you believe your own pitch. Don’t say what you think the assessor wants to hear- instead, tell them your genuine, heartfelt reasons for wanting to get the jobs on offer.
The light-hearted tone of exercises at assessment centres can be deceptive- you might be playing Dragon’s Den, or making a sales pitch for an imaginary product, but each exercise is calculated to gauge whether you have the skills and abilities that will allow you to succeed in the role you’re applying for. Read any material you’ve been sent about the day carefully to see what the employers are looking for, and keep those qualities at the forefront of your mind throughout the day.
Top tip: The exercises I run at Venatrix are designed to test candidates’ ability to identify the value different technologies can add to businesses, to construct sales pitches based on that value, and to think on their feet when they meet resistance or disinterest.
A promise: you’ll hear a lot more no’s in any sales job than you will yesses. You’ll need to be resourceful, resilient and tenacious to succeed: on any given day, you might be asked questions whose answers you don’t know, lose a deal you’ve spent days chasing, and have the phone slammed down on you multiple times. At Venatrix assessment days, I’m looking for people who can stay confident and positive when things get tough; making a mistake or selling yourself short isn’t a disaster, and in my experience, the ability to bounce back and come up with a Plan B defines a good businessperson. And the best thing you can do if you’re late, get the dress code wrong, or say something silly (though as far as possible, I’d try to avoid doing all these things) is keep your composure and carry on as normal.
Fancy yourself at a Venatrix assessment centre? Make it happen- check out our awesome job opportunities and send us your CV today!