|Gavin Mulcahy is the Director, EMEA at online assessment platform, Sova.|
Assessment centres are a popular recruitment method used for graduate programs, and one that you may start to come across as you approach the end of your degree. Some take place face-to-face, while others are completed virtually. We’ve already put together some tips and tricks for face-to-face assessment centres, but if you’ve got a virtual assessment centre coming up, read on for some expert advice from Gavin Mulcahy, Director, EMEA at Sova on how to do well!
What’s the difference between virtual and face-to-face assessment centres?
The obvious difference between the two types of assessment centres is that one takes place online while the other one takes place face-to-face. While this doesn’t make a huge difference in terms of the content of the centres themselves, it may change how you prepare, particularly because virtual assessment centres rely so heavily on technology.
How can you prepare for a virtual assessment centre?
Firstly, make sure that you’re comfortable with the technology you’ll be using on the day. Gavin says that you should make sure you’ve downloaded everything you need to well before the day, and it’s a great idea to test your camera and microphone beforehand too.
Making sure you’ve got a backup is crucial as well, even if it’s just your phone!
“So I think just kind of thinking through what are you going to do on the day if you lose internet connection or if your device dies or asks for an update for whatever reason?…Is there a phone number that you can ring? Or what should you do in those situations, but having kind of a fallback that is probably a good thing,” Gavin says.
You should also go in with a few examples of your experience.
“That might be part time work or volunteer work you've done, but just thinking through some of the examples that you might get,” Gavin says.
“Someone asked you a question about teamwork, and having kind of a couple of examples there that you can go with, depending on the question.”
The STAR method is also really handy to get familiar with:
It’s a great way to structure your responses when asked about specific examples to ensure you don’t leave anything out!
What do recruiters look for in virtual assessment centres?
With virtual assessment centres, you do lose a lot of that body language you get with face-to-face interviews, but luckily there are other things employers will be on the lookout for.
Gavin says that things like adaptability, resilience, communication and teamwork skills are just some of the many things recruiters keep an eye out for during the various activities.
“I'll be using a combination of interviews, maybe group exercises, role plays, case studies, to tap into those competencies or that success criteria,” he says.
This one might seem obvious, but making sure you actually answer the question is another big one! When you’re under pressure, it’s easy to get set on a tangent or get confused by a question. So take a deep breath and make sure you either read the question properly, or if it’s an interview, make sure you’re actively listening so you’re able to properly digest the questions.
Additionally, while it may be tempting to try and be the loudest voice during a group task, the key to not being overly dominant is active listening.
“A lot of that is just around making sure that you're listening to people, involved with people, so that kind of active listening where you're saying ‘I like what you said earlier’, or building on what other people have said,” Gavin says.
Some final tips to keep in mind
Despite the assessment centre taking place online, dressing for the part is still important - please don’t show up in your pyjamas! Treat it as though it’s a face-to-face assessment centre and wear something professional.
As it’s difficult to use body language virtually, doing your best to maintain eye contact where possible is key! Experience also isn’t everything, so don’t feel down if you haven’t had much experience yet: early careers recruiters are looking for passionate individuals who are first and foremost willing to learn, so be sure to keep that in mind.
Lastly, don’t forget to have fun! Assessment centres are typically the last stage in the recruitment process, and you’ve already made it this far! Try and enjoy the group tasks, and make the most of your interview by asking questions you genuinely want to know the answer to.
For more advice, head over to our article on Top Tips to Succeed in Graduate Assessment Centres.
About The Author
Clareese is a Media and Communications (journalism) graduate from La Trobe University. She worked at GradConnection as a Student Journalist where she covered a range of topics on the student blog and reported on the 2023 Top100 Awards. She’s now working in an exciting new role as a Cadet Journalist at News Corp based in NSW.