Graduate Assessment Centres

Posted by Andrew Purchas

What are graduate assessment centres?

Graduate Assessment Centres are generally the last step of the graduate recruitment process before the holy grail of graduate job offers. If you’ve made this far, you’ve obviously caught the eye with a lot of qualities that match what the grad employer is looking for.

What is covered in a graduate assessment centre?

Group Work and Assessment

  • When joining a graduate program you’ll be moving into a team setting alongside a number of other staff as well as other graduates who make their way on to the graduate program so assessing how you interact with your peers is the number one goal of an assessment centre. Remember – the other graduates are not your competition! Hopefully in many cases they will be your colleagues and lifelong connections and is important to keep in mind during group work components.

The main categories of what you might be asked to

  • Case Studies – As graduates are brought into the business the expectation that they will transition in to helping the company solve real world issues they come across so often groups will be given a case study to see how they might fair in the future.
    In many cases, case studies will be based on real world events. It could be as simple as evaluating if it was a good idea for Apple to remove the headphone jack (or something else topical) through to how the company might position themselves through a regulatory or government mandated change that has a large impact on the business. Either way, it’s important to stay up to date on current affairs.
  • Group Exercises – These are the main way which graduate recruiters will see who you really are in a high-pressure group scenario. Group exercise will generally be sets of tasks that are only achievable via a group effort, identifying team roles and diving up the work to make sure you not only manage to complete a task but in a competitive setting against other groups!
    As you know, with many different personalities, there will be some people who like to take charge, some people who are a bit shy and let their work speak for them but it’s important to stay engaged through this process otherwise it’s hard for the assessors to see how you operate.
    Remember, be assertive but not dominant, stay focussed, supportive of your peers, genuine and original and you are going to present yourself in the best possible light.
  • Social Settings – One of the major benefits of an assessment centre can be the premium lunch and morning tea options and in some cases other social components, however it’s still an opportunity to be interacting with the hiring managers and other business leaders (who are also potentially appreciative of the good spread!) which can go a long way to setting you up for success in the 1 on 1 interview components as well as factoring into your general feedback the team is collating over the day.

1 on 1 Interviews

There are a number of different interviews that you might undertake

  • Competency interview
    The questions asked during this interview style is to evaluate a candidate’s key attributes. They would usually require candidates to demonstrate their skills or competencies that the employer is looking for by using situational examples. This kind of interview would allow interviewers get to know the candidate’s personality, skills and competencies.
  • Partner interview
    Partners are senior members and the purpose of this interview is to see if your personality would fit and is suitable for the company or industry that you are joining. This kind of interview is in a form of a conversation in which questions about why you want to join, what you hope to achieve, and what you can bring to the plate would be asked.
  • Technical interview
    This interview would have questions that are specific to the job that you applied for, brain teaser questions, and/or numerical reasoning questions. This kind of interview is used to assess candidates that applied for technical or specialist graduate job positions such as IT, Engineering and Science.
  • Panel interview
    This interview is just like a regular interview, however, rather than being interviewed by one, you may be facing three to five people. The people joining the panel can include members from various department and candidates will be through a brief explanation on the structure of the interview. This interview also depends on the type of role you applied for and is used to assess your ability in answering questions, interacting with individuals, communication techniques and how you maintain and build a connection with the panel members. These interviews are frequently used for jobs in educational institutions, non-profit organisations, government organisations and partner agencies.

Who are assessing the potential graduates and interns?

In most cases there will be two main parties from the business who will be assessing you:

Graduate Recruiters - Graduate recruiters, whether you know it or not have been with you every step of the process. Graduate recruiters spend a large amount of their time understanding the business and what individual teams and hiring managers are looking for and can offer some of the best insight into a graduate employer as a whole.

Business leaders and direct hiring manager – With a number of benefits to graduate programs, it’s not a surprise that there is a large amount of buy in from senior leaders within the business. Whilst they can be selfishly motivated to make sure they find the grads who are going to make the biggest impact in their business area and be the best fit – they dedicate a large amount of time to not just this process but training and developing new talent over the duration of the program and will sometimes form your first heavy hitting professional relationships.

This marks the end of the in-depth overview of the recruitment process and you are now ready for to apply for graduate jobs and internships! Understanding how the process is a great first step so you know what each stage is looking for.

If you’ve stumbled upon this by chance – make sure you check out the full jobs guide here!


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