Assessment centres are a key part of the graduate recruitment process, allowing employers to assess a high number of candidates quickly and efficiently. While the pandemic means that in-person assessment days are out of the question, many companies have moved theirs online to safeguard their recruitment efforts.
Not sure what to expect? Here’s a quick overview:
What do virtual assessment centres consist of?
Virtual assessment centres tend to be very similar to a traditional assessment day in terms of the tasks and activities they include. This means they commonly consist of a mixture of information sessions, group and individual exercises like role plays or case studies and one-on-one or panel interviews. For example, the virtual assessment centre of global law firm Baker McKenzie includes a group exercise, associate interview, case study and partner interview. Like an in-person assessment centre, it also includes breaks throughout.
In some cases, companies may adapt their exercises to fit the virtual format. This could mean that group exercises have less participants than before, or that they’re scrapped altogether in favour of a longer interview. In the interview they can then ask questions about the skills they’d normally assess during a group exercise, e.g. teamwork, communication skills, leadership.
What does this look like in practice?
Companies may use video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Teams or Google Meet to conduct their virtual assessment centre, or a specifically designed assessment platform. You will be told beforehand what to expect and given login information or asked to download the correct software. Different activities may take place in different virtual ‘meeting rooms’, so it’s important you pay attention to any instructions you are given before and on the day. But don’t worry, there will usually be a member of staff on the call to guide you in the right direction.
Depending on how many activities there are, the entire experience will usually take around two to four hours, which is notably shorter than in-person assessment centres, which can last an entire day.
What can you expect in the run-up to the day?
Aside from login instructions, you’ll usually be sent a timetable, contact details for the recruitment team, a list of what to prepare and bring with you and, in some cases, a specific dress code. A description of the different tasks you’ll face is also commonly provided, along with an explanation of the skills they’ll be looking for and tips on how to perform well. It goes without saying that you should read all of these carefully. Employers may also require you to send photo ID so they’re able to verify who you are on the day.
While virtual assessment centres can be nerve-wracking, with the right level of preparation there’s nothing to fear. So, prepare like you would for any assessment day: do your research on the company and role, be prepared to talk about yourself and answer questions, familiarise yourself with the tasks you will face and make sure you practise!
Additionally, pick a quiet, well-lit and uncluttered place to sit, and perfect your technical set-up, including checking your internet speed, camera and microphone to ensure they are all up to scratch. Last but not least, pre-empt technical difficulties by having your phone close by as an alternate way to connect. Those few extra preparatory steps could make all the difference!