Assessment Feedback. Older man sitting with younger at laptop.

Assessment exercise

We offer assessment centre practice. In our opinion, our assessment centre exercise practice materials and assessment centre exercise tips should be free. We hope you enjoy using them for your assessment centre exercise practice.

Assessment Exercise design projects

  • Group exercise design for a financial services regulator as a Mendas associate (winner of the Association of Graduate Recruiters 2008 award for the Best Graduate Recruitment Scheme, as shown on the OnRec website)
  • Designing a full set of assessment centre exercises for a police constabulary: competency-based interview design, written exercise design, presentation design, assigned group exercise design, unassigned group exercise design (police sector)
  • Role play design and in-tray exercise designs for education
  • Role play and written exercise design (business consultancy organisation)
  • Graduate assessment exercise design and delivery (role plays, competency-based interviews, group exercises)

Development centres

Development centres use the full range of assessment exercises (role plays, in-trays, written exercises, psychometric tests etc) to highlight managers’ development areas, or to select internal candidates for specialised training.

Best practice in development centre design and application

  • As with the best practice for an assessment centre, there is a need for objectivity, reliability, validity and fairness. However the ethos is different, with effective feedback underpinning the key priority of exploring each participant’s areas of personal development.
  • Feedback is a key part of any development centre.

The reliability of any exercise depends upon many factors:

  • Quality of the competency framework.
  • Use of experienced and well-briefed / well-trained assessors.
  • Relevance of the exercise brief to the role being assessed.

Assessment Centre History

Assessment centres have a well-proven track record for recruiting new employees and selecting existing staff for promotion. Research supports their use as one of the most valid and fair processes available to occupational psychologists – if used in accordance with best practice.

An assessment centre involves written exercise, intray exercise, presentation exercise, role play, and / or a group exercise. Group exercises and presentation exercises are particularly popular for graduate assessment centres.

Assessment Centre Fairness

Assessment centres can, therefore:

  1. improve the quality and quantity of information on which to base the selection decision
  2. allow candidates to demonstrate how they meet requirements, rather than relying on self-report and performance at interview.

The most effective way of predicting job performance is to use a mix of assessment methods and look at the results in an integrated way to build up a picture of the candidate.

The most complex being a full Assessment Centre using a range of tests and exercises. In our opinion, assessment centres have the best ROI for graduate and for managerial positions.

We believe it is less appropriate to use a battery of assessment techniques for jobs requiring basic level skills. Rather than enhancing the outcome, this could put potential applicants off.

Assessment centre validation

Rob Williams Assessment Ltd have considerable experience in assessing validity. This is a one of the key final stages in any psychometric test design.

Many of the UK’s and US’s leading test publishers have used Rob Williams Assessment’s to assist with ensuring such psychometric properties as reliability and validity.

Our Assessment Exercise Tips

Read the instructions to each exercise very carefully.

Always watch the time available for each exercise.

  • Firstly, ask yourself as you read the instructions:
    1.  What are the key things I am being asked to do here?
    2. How can I demonstrate that I have the right skillset?
    3. What should I avoid doing?
  • Also, don’t ask for any hints or assessment centre tips of that nature.
  • Thirdly, don’t skim read any of the Instructions.
  • Plus, work calmly and steadily through each exercise.
  • Also, do not spend too long on a single part of each exercise.
  • Finally, keep a positive attitude..

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So focus on how important each issue is to the organisation and which actions you should do first, last etc.

Another competency commonly assessed by in-trays is creative thinking. you, therefore, need to have a few innovative ideas. Even if you are not recommending pursuing these, put each creative idea down, then assess its pros and cons. It helps to get to grips with the main issues if you skim read your in-tray brief initially. This will help you to remember how the main issues have been linked together in the different sections of your brief.

Assessment Centre Practice. People around laptop with man pointing at screen

Group exercise tips

Always aim to put your views forward whilst being fair to your fellow candidates.

Proactively try to involve the rest of the group. ask for their individual comments if necessary.

It’s important to build support for your ideas. This requires you to generate some rapport with other individuals.

Seek to provide direction for the group’s efforts.

Remember that everyone will be feeling nervous.

Keep a steady pace and try not to let your nervousness show.

It’s important that you project your voice and speak calmly and confidently throughout.

We hope you enjoy our free group exercise tips.

  • Such group exercises are a common feature of graduate assessment centres and sometimes of managerial development centres.
  • Group exercises typically involve a group of four to six candidates given a group or individual exercise briefs.

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Group exercise preparation

A group exercise occurs whilst assessors located around the room note what individuals are saying and how they are reacting to the group dynamics. Specifically the assessors are considering how the individuals meet competency areas of behaviour.

Group exercise usage

The most popular application is graduate Assessment Centres. Group exercises are inappropriate within day-to-day selection contexts. Since all candidates must be available at the same time, a group exercise does not fit within a normal interview schedule that’s set-up for staggered candidate arrivals.

Group exercise competencies

The observable competencies can vary quite considerably, including:

  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Managing Others
  • Team working
  • Planning and Organising
  • Verbal Communication
  • Influencing skills
  • Social Confidence
  • Adaptability, Flexibility
  • Negotiation Skills
  • Creative / innovative thinking
  • Leadership
  • Motivating Others
  • Project management

Role Play

The candidate has to play the role and carry out all the tasks that are related to that job. For example, he has to make decisions, delegate the tasks, assign the responsibilities, and come up with solutions for the problems and much more. He has to make sure that he takes care of all the things simultaneously.

Similarly the seniors can also give him some urgent tasks that might be required from the person working on that position. Icing on the cake is that at the end of the task or day; the candidate has to give the presentation. In this way the recruiters would get to know about his understanding of the work, attitude, approach and behaviour.

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Presentation exercise

The presentation is going to say a lot about his work and personality. The candidate has to make sure that he gives his best in the presentation because it might be examined closely. Your strengths, weaknesses, ways of working, the presentation style, communication and other skills would get to light through your presentation. Moreover, once your role play task is over, you would be examined and ranked by multiple superiors and seniors. In this way there would be every part of your activity that gets examined in the most effective manner.

Pressure and Decision Making

Whether a candidate would be able to take the pressure? Can he deal with everything with ac cool and calm mind? Well, these are the things that the different tests in the assessment centres would examine. You would get to know about how the candidate reacts to a stressful situation. For example, if there is a problem how the candidate would deal with it is going to tell a lot about him. In this way there would be impartial evaluation of his pressure taking capability.

Similarly, you would agree that there are always times when the employees have to take serious and important decisions. Perhaps that is the reason the assessment centre exercises examine the decision making skills of the candidates too. The candidate might be given situations or landed in circumstances wherein they have to take decisions. In this way you can evaluate how tactfully and effectively the candidates take the decision. Moreover, you can also ask them about the reasons they tool the decisions. In this way you would know what actually runs in their mind when they take up decisions.

Group and Team Work Skills

You would agree that the corporate world working place has teams and groups these days. Sometimes the candidates have to work with other peers in the business. In such a condition if the candidate is not able to fit in with the team or group that would be dangerous for the overall product. So, the point is that these days’ recruiters want to be sure that the candidate is in a position to deal with groups too. He or she has to be comfortable working if they are told to work in a group. After all, individualism does not work in the group projects or team assignments. Certainly no matter how good an employee is if he or she is not in a position to work in a team, their skills would stand useless.

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Assessment Centre Feedback

Receiving assessment centre feedback is a key learning opportunity for you. Firstly, you should always accept this gratefully. Secondly, stay engaged in the process.

Finally, do not do any of these: criticise any exercise; compare your performance with the other candidates, or assume that the feedback is your opportunity to improve the overcome.

Assessment Feedback. Older man sitting with younger at laptop.

Psychometric Profile Interpretation

Remember, the following points about your personality profile:

  • First, you can take notes especially during any summary given.
  • Second, a personality test measures your behavioural preferences. How you typically behave.
  • Finally, may think of instances when you behaved differently to a particular personality trait. That’s fine. It’s how you typicallybehaviour that the personality test profile relates to.

ASSESSMENT CENTRE SELECTION CRITERIA – Assessment Competencies

  • Has adaptability. So, responds to various environments, people, tasks and responsibilities while maintaining consistent level of effectiveness.
  • Good judgement. Hence, makes decisions which are logical, rational and free from undue risk. Is reflective rather than impulsive.
  • Is energetic. Thus, maintains a high level of alertness and activity.
  • Has entrepreneurial flair.
  • Has impact on other people. In other words, presents a positive first impression, and then sustains others’ attention and respect. Is able to quickly build rapport.
  • Shows some initiative. So, sees what needs to be done and takes action. Seizes opportunities and actively influences events.
  • Oral Communication – Communicates effectively in both individual and group situations.
  • Written Communication – Clearly expresses facts and ideas in written form. Uses correct grammar and effective layout with appropriate tone and level of language.

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Group Exercises Tips

There are two aspects to most types of group exercise – what you contribute in
terms of completing the task set, and the way in which you contribute to the
group overall. Each of these is important, with the latter often being the most
critical part of the group selection process.

The selectors are not expecting you to be an expert on the subject under
discussion or the task to complete, but they do want to see evidence that you
can make an effective contribution to the group. It is important to get involved
but avoid the temptation to dominate the group. There are many valid ways to
make an effective contribution to a group exercise.

  • Including others in the discussions.
  • Making sure the group keeps to time and completes the task in hand.
  • Coming up with creative ideas.
  • Organising people.
  • By checking details.

Group Exercise Preparation

It is often an ineffective use of resources in a group if you all try to do the same
things, wasting time and causing unnecessary duplication. Split up large tasks
and allocate different parts to those best suited to them.

This does require that you take care to co-ordinate the group and have regular review and check points, so you don’t find out at the last minute that you have all been working at cross purposes. However, using the diverse strengths of the group members and delegating tasks can often achieve quicker, better results and is an important part of effective teamwork.

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You can improve your chances of being selected by the impact you make in any group activity. Think about the way you interact with others, how you can influence them and how you can ensure the group achieves its goal, even if your personal approach would have been different.

Group exercise competencies

The observable competencies can vary quite considerably, including:

  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Managing Others
  • Team working
  • Planning and Organising
  • Verbal Communication
  • Influencing skills
  • Social Confidence
  • Adaptability, Flexibility
  • Negotiation Skills
  • Creative / innovative thinking
  • Leadership
  • Motivating Others
  • Project management

More group exercise tips

  • Keep your contributions short. – Your point is more likely to be understood and to have impact if you keep it reasonably short.
  • Avoid interrupting others to make your contribution.
  • Do not let others interrupt you. In some discussions it is difficult to make your contribution. Once speaking there is a temptation to make several points for fear of not getting in again! However, this creates a vicious circle. So, avoid it.
  • Keep your non-verbal behaviour assertive. – Both the volume and tone of voice are important here. Speak too quietly and you will lose impact and be open to interruptions.

Further group exercise tips

  • Use eye contact to “catch the Chairperson’s eye” to get your contribution in, then distribute your eye contact amongst members. Direct it to members for whom it is most relevant. This enables you to judge how your contribution is being received.
  • Timing your contribution. – If you want to influence a discussion it is not just what you say that counts but also when you say it. Raise points at the relevant time for maximum impact. Don’t wait until the last minute before airing an opposing view – if others are on the verge of making a decision they will be irritated if you suddenly come up with opposition.
  • Getting a reaction to your contribution. – If you follow the first two suggestions you stand a good chance of getting a reaction. If, however, no one reacts – then ask the group or an individual for a reaction.

More assessment centre exercise tips

  • Changing your mind. – This is a valid thing to do. Especially in light of new information or better ideas. Be honest and open about it – not apologetic.
  • Not falling in with an apparent majority. – You have a responsibility to make your doubts and disagreements known. It is important not to let the discussion be dominated by others whose point of view may be less valid than your own.
  • Falling in with the majority – If, however, after exploring all the options you find yourself holding a ‘minority’ viewpoint and time is pressing – it can be assertive to “fall in” with the majority rather than prevent the meeting from progressing.
  • Deciding which issues to make a stand on. – If in a discussion you find yourself out of line with the majority view being expressed, there will be many issues on which you could take a stand. However, if you do this on every issue it will become counter-productive. Perhaps, you will even be labelled awkward and negative.

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Assessment Centre In-tray Exercise Tips

The in-tray exercise is designed to simulate the administrative features of a job.

  • You will be asked to deal with a range of items. For example, you may be given a mass of material such as e-mails, faxes, memos, letters, telephone messages, reports and computer printouts.
  • You have to decide what needs doing first and then actually do it. The exercise is often complicated by a messenger, calling at your “office” every half hour or so, delivering more material.
  • This kind of exercise measures your ability to prioritise as well as your judgement and more general communication, planning and organisational skills.
  • There is seldom enough time to complete everything so it also acts as a measure of performance under pressure.
Written assessment. Young man at desk doing exam

Assessment Centre Practice – Written Exercise Tips

  • You will usually be given a limited time to read through various pieces of information and produce a summary.
  • There is often not one clear cut ‘correct’ answer in these exercises. Recruiters are assessing your ability to analyse problems, prioritise tasks and put forward effective arguments with clarity and tact.
  • Make sure you spend enough time looking at the information before you start writing.
  • Be aware that some of the information will be less relevant to your task and spend less time on it.
  • Ensure that you make definite recommendations, don’t be vague, and don’t be afraid of choosing the wrong answer.
  • As long as your arguments are clear and persuasive you will still obtain marks.

Assessment Centre Practice

Written exercise tips – ‘Drafting’ written exercise

You are presented with sensitive information and asked to draft a letter clearly and tactfully e.g. write a letter to an important customer explaining why you are unable to waive a bill they are querying.

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Written exercise tips – ‘Case study’ written exercise

You are given official reports, tables of figures, newspaper cuttings, memos, etc. and a problem to solve. You must produce a written report covering your interpretation of the problem and possible solutions e.g. you must decide, using the information provided,whether a particular company should relocate, expand or do both.

Assessment Centre Practice – Presentation Exercise Intro

These can be very short lasting 1-2 minutes, or more involved, lasting 10-15 minutes and requiring quite extensive preparation. A common example of the short presentation is the ice-breaker exercise, where candidates stand up one at a time and introduce themselves to the group, talking for one minute.

Longer presentations usually involve fairly extensive preparation, either within the Assessment Centre schedule (after an evening socialising in the bar!) or in the time before you actually attend the Centre, in which case you will be sent a brief, in advance.

Assessment Centre Practice – Presentation Exercise Top Tips

• Think about your audience – don’t use technical jargon if they are not familiar with the terminology. On the other hand, don’t talk down to them.
• Make sure your presentation has a clear structure to it. Introduce it by explaining what you will be covering, deliver the talk and then summarise your main points.
• Be careful about telling jokes – not everyone may appreciate your sense of
humour.
• Practise your talk in front of a mirror, or a friend.
• Speak clearly and stick to the time limit.

Assessment Centre Practice – Presentation Exercise Other Tips

Thorough preparation is needed, and you will need to give some thought to any visual aids you wish to use e.g. overhead projector, flip charts, white board etc.

Make sure you know what resources are available to you at the Assessment Centre. Plan your presentation carefully, and if possible rehearse it in front of someone. It often takes much longer out loud than when you run through it in your head, and timing will be assessed. Make it as interesting as possible.

On the actual day, try to talk from brief notes whilst making eye contact with your audience, rather than reading aloud from a prepared script.

In making a presentation, you will be judged on:-

  • communication skills
  • structure/planning of your talk
  • content
  • whether you speak ‘at’ or ‘to’ the audience
  • delivery – is it lively or dull?
  • timing

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Assessment Centre Practice – Role Play Exercise Tips

  • Don’t over act – try to appear realistic.
  • Think about the skills you need to demonstrate e.g. negotiating, communicating delivering good ‘customer’ care etc.
  • These usually involve dealing with realistic situations. Prepare to be confronted by a dissatisfied customer. Then asked to deal with him/her in an appropriate way.
  • These exercises assess communication and presen

Assessment Centre Practice – Group Exercise Tips

These exercises are usually concerned with leadership, team membership,
motivation and problem solving.

Assessment Centre Practice – Leaderless Discussion Intro

This sort of exercise is used to assess action, team membership and
communication skills. It involves candidates being placed in groups and each group discussing or debating a particular topic. Each person in the group is monitored by an
assessor and once the task is started the group is left to organise itself. The
assessors are looking for the emergence of a leader and the sort of roles that
people adopt.

Assessment Centre Practice – Leaderless Discussion Tips

  • Try to join in early on, it gets harder the longer you leave it.
  • Contribute often but don’t dominate.
  • Offer to summarise some of the points made so far.
  • Listen and respond to what the other candidates are saying.

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Assessment Centre Practice – Assigned Role Groups

  • Now, this time each team member is given a role to play. For example, each member might act the part of manager from a different part of the organisation.
  • Negotiate with others in the group and argue a case for your own department.
  • Remember there will always be winners and losers. However it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose because it is the quality and structure of the argument that is important.

This sort of exercise is assessing communication skills, presence and action.

Aptitude test practice books

Rob Williams’s five practice aptitude tests books are all available on Amazon:

Firstly, in our opinion this is the best aptitude test practice book for Passing Verbal Reasoning Tests.

Secondly, in our opinion this is the best aptitude test practice book for Passing Numerical Reasoning Tests.

Passing Numerical Reasoning Tests gif

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Defamiliarization assessment centres

Our defamiliarisation assessment centre tips – In our opinion, these use defamiliarisation exercises to take candidates out of their comfort zones to really test their abilities. The only true way to assess someone’s natural capabilities is to take them out of their comfort zone . These cannot be prepared for since there is no obvious right or wrong approach. Candidates must rely on their natural strengths and innate abilities.

Flash Mob assessment centres – In our opinion, most University campuses have careers fairs in which graduate employers can attract final year students

Virtual Assessment Centre Research

It’s important for graduate applicants to demonstrate they can collaborate across country borders. Online, “virtual” assessment centres provide a realistic job preview of team working in a digital age. Efficient virtual assessment centres are becoming increasingly popular.

Our virtual assessment centre tips – It’s important for graduate applicants to demonstrate they can collaborate across country borders. Online, “virtual” assessment centres provide a realistic job preview of team working in a digital age. Efficient virtual assessment centres are becoming increasingly popular.

We are researching virtual assessment centres. One of our partners is Pinsight®. The Pinsight® virtual assessment centre evaluates the competencies needed to execute specific business strategies, predicts when leaders will be ready to execute those strategies, facilitates continuous development, and tracks improvement of abilities in real-time. Pinsight® enables all organizations to hire, promote, and develop leaders in a more efficient and cost-effective way.

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