Top 10 tips to ace assessment centres

Ace assessment centres like this one in the image!

The top 10 tips to ace assessment centres as a neurodivergent

Attending an assessment centre can be a daunting challenge for a neurodivergent person, and others too! As graduate schemes are beginning to start their selection processes, we thought we’d break down the top 10 tips to ace an assessment centre for our neurodivergent community:

1) Sort out your travel and outfit in advance:

Do you know how you will get to the assessment centre? As a neurodivergent person, a lot of us have a habit of getting lost. Make any travel arrangements at least a day or two in advance.

Arrive ahead of the designated time and allow yourself extra time for traffic, delays or for if you get lost. If the centre is in an unknown city, it can be reassuring to have a physical map in case your technology fails.

Another good idea is choosing what to wear beforehand. By doing this, it will limit the amount you need to think about on the day. Pick something clean, not creased and professional. If you are not sure, you can ask human resources, or the people interviewing you, for the dress code.

2) Study the company and the job:

In advance of the assessment centre, you need to make sure you know the company back-to-front and have a sound knowledge of what you would be doing if you were offered the role. Here are some things to start with:

  • Read the role description several times. It can take a while to go in!
  • Browse recent blogs online concerning the organisation and the sector in general.
  • Check if they currently have a neurodiversity policy in place.
  • Consider talking to employees who currently work at the business.
  • Study the company site for detailed statements about what they do, e.g. their mission, vision, expectations, staff requirements.

3) Know what to expect – avoid surprise!

Examine your letter or email from the company thoroughly, so you understand what is happening at the assessment centre on the day. If you are dyslexic, it is always a good idea to get a second pair of eyes to look over it.

It is a good idea to know the variety of tasks and exercises you will be faced with, and if you need to do anything before the day, such as prepare a pitch or demonstration. If you believe you require reasonable adjustments, make sure you give them plenty of notice.

You should also see if you need to take anything with you. If you use any assistive technology such as reading software or a dictation tool, remember to let them know ahead of time. Another good step is to research whether they have had any previous neurodivergent applicants and get their views on the assessment centre if possible.

If you are unsure about anything, make sure you reach out to the company for further information. If they are an inclusive company, they should be more than happy to help.

4) Review the marking criteria:

During the assessment, hiring managers will be evaluating you on a variety of competencies that they have identified as necessary for the position.

These competencies will differ depending on the business, and the position you are applying for. You will need to make sure you can prove that you fit the fundamental competencies.

Beforehand, think of clear examples that evidence each skill. It is worth nothing that these don’t have to be specific to the working environment. For example, if you were a captain of a sports team, that could help you demonstrate leadership or communication skills.

5) Critique your initial application:

It could be some time from when you first submitted your application, so it is a good idea to check over what you submitted. Make sure all the information that you gave is preserved in your memory. If you have dyspraxia, or just simply struggle with your memory, make sure to print an extra copy out for reference on the day.

If the assessment centre comprises an interview, the interviewer may use examples from your application as questions. Be ready to discuss your application in detail, but feel free to ask for extra time before your answer if needed.

6) Prepare for Assessment Activities and Interview:

Make sure to check what sort of assessment tests you will be doing. This knowledge may be given in your letter or email for the assessment centre; if not, reach out to assessor to ask. Once you understand the tests you will have on the day, practice as much as possible.

How to give your best interview:

If you have an interview during your assessment centre, try to research as many aspects as possible.

Try and find out:

  • How long will it be? Will there be time for questions after?
  • Is it a formal or informal interview?
  • Is the interview a board of people or one person?

Rehearse answering questions for the interview with a friend or family member to guarantee your explanations are as good as they can be, as well as your body language. Once you have finished the interview, remember to ask for feedback on where you can develop.

7) Perfect your performance:

You will possibly be asked to exhibit some work during the assessment centre. Most employers will give notice beforehand about what you are required to provide, so take advantage of the opportunity to prepare. You will be much more positive going into the task if you are thoroughly rehearsed.

Some things to think about:

  • Use simple, understandable language and try to remember as much as you can without needing notes (if this is a challenge for you remember you can bring notes in most cases).
  • Rehearse presenting aloud plenty, before the assessment.
  • Try to find out what facilities will be accessible. A digital presentation can be a useful tool if possible, but keep them simplistic – avoid using paragraphs of text.

8) Take Care of Yourself:

Assessment centres can be a tough test of your abilities, and you may understandably feel drained after it has finished. However, it is also crucial to watch your mental and physical health before the day, so you perform at your best:

  • Eat fresh, well-balanced food in the days (ideally weeks) before your assessment; this can have more of an impact than you may realise. Breakfast to start the day is also a must; there is nothing worse than feeling tired or sleepy when you’re there.
  • Reduce anxiety or stress by taking regular exercise leading up to the assessment; this could involve light jogging or cycling.
  • Get sufficient rest before the assessment centre. Being well-rested is indispensable for your attention.

9) Be a Team Player:

How well do you work in a team? This is often a key competency that is looked at an assessment centre. Companies are watching to see how you will perform in a group.

This is an excellent opportunity to use your neurodivergent skill-set to your advantage! While your actions will typically be your number one thought, it is essential that you help and support other applicants too.

You may or may not be directly competing for the one role – it is possible that more than one person will be offered a position on the day.

A common team activity could include discussing, debating and presenting back to the interviewers. Remember, try and learn what sort of tasks you will face on the day.

Demonstrate tenacity in the team activities and do not be scared to lead or put your thoughts forward. Although, make sure you provide opportunity for others to participate also, and be sure to listen to all thoughts with your upmost attention and interest.

10) Relax and Enjoy the Experience:

It’s worth remembering that the business wants you to succeed! They are not trying to trip you up, but simply trying to assess where your strengths lie. Try to relax and understand that mistakes may happen, but it won’t necessarily mean you will be unsuccessful. Everyone makes mistakes, and others may be struggling just as much as you!

If you do this, it will allow you to calm down and help you to stay confident throughout the testing, helping your performance in group tasks or similar challenges. It will also allow you to focus on your mannerisms, being polite and social with other candidates. This can make you stand out to an employer, and help build your networks too!

If you need any further help or tips on how to ace assessment centres or any other topics feel free to contact us, either using our form, or calling us on 0208 133 6046.

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