Searching for a Job

Tests & What to Expect

Additional Interview Stages

Selling Yourself on Paper

Interviews

The Offer Process

How to prepare for an assessment centre

Assessment centres are most commonly used for graduate or entry level positions where there is likely to be a large number of interviewees but these are also used as standard for certain roles in some companies. They usually last for one day and are generally used as the first round of the selection process. Participants will be asked to complete a number of activities while being observed and graded.

You can prepare for an assessment centre by researching the company holding the event. Research details of their turnover, competitors and the markets they operate in, as well as exploring their careers website to find out what they expect from their potential employees.

Assessment centres can take a number of different formats but might include some of the elements below:

  • an introduction where you will be given detailed information regarding the company, the roles they’re recruiting for and setting the agenda for the day
  • group and individual exercises deigned to assess your skills, ability to work with others, proficiency for lateral thinking etc.
  • role plays which will require you and other team members to act out a scenario which might occur in the workplace
  • an informal networking event where you will be required to interact with your peers and members of the company

During all exercises and tasks, the assessors are judging your ability to interact and work alongside your colleagues. It’s important to make your voice heard in these situations but to do so without dominating the conversation. Allow other team members to contribute and if you disagree with what they propose, speak up but try to be constructive rather than critical.

The most important thing to remember during an assessment day is that you will be observed at all times and decisions can be made on even the smallest things that you may say or do. Appear professional, polite and approachable at all times and you’re halfway there!

How to prepare for telephone or Skype interviews

Telephone interviews and Skype interviews are increasingly popular as an early or first stage of the selection process in the modern age of recruitment. These are also quite common if you’re applying for a job which is based internationally. You should prepare for a telephone interview in almost exactly the same way you would for a face to face interview and not be tempted to look on it casually.

Follow our tips below to ensure a smooth and successful telephone interview…

  • Ensure you have access to a quiet place for your telephone interview, where you are unlikely to be disturbed.
  • Make sure you have all the information you might need ready for the phone call. You should have a copy of your CV to hand, a copy of the job description/specification, your research on the company and notes to help with your answers.
  • You could also prepare any questions you have, to gain more understanding about the role and company.
  • It can be difficult to come across on the phone the way you do in person. Try to interject confidence and enthusiasm into your voice when you answer questions.
  • Ensure that you speak clearly and loudly enough to be heard at all times. Make sure you answer each question fully but equally, try to be concise and not risk rambling or going off on tangents as you might lose the interest of the interviewer.
  • Listen to the interviewer’s questions extra carefully and ask for clarification if you haven’t heard or understood the question properly.
  • When the interview is over, don’t make the mistake of simply thanking the interviewer and then hanging up! Make sure you are clear on what the next stage of the process is and when you are likely to hear from them next.

How to approach a presentation

An employer or recruiter will usually notify you in advance if you are required to complete a presentation or case study exercise. This will involve analysis of data and information provided by the company which you will be asked to analyse before presenting your findings.

Presentations usually take the format of a set of documents containing data and information which relates to either a hypothetical or actual situation involving the business. You will be given a set amount of time to perform the analysis and will then be asked to feed back to the interviewer either in a written report or verbally in person.

If you are required to provide written recommendations, make sure you use correct grammar and punctuation, even if you are struggling for time. It’s important that you communicate your thought process and ideas clearly. If you’re asked to present your findings verbally, make sure you take the interviewer through your thought processes step-by-step and justify each point.

We would recommend that you present these findings professionally through a tool such as Powerpoint. It should always have a clear and simple layout, not have too much text and be a step by step process in presenting your findings to the interviewer.

You can practise for presentations by researching existing business reports from the company or similar businesses within the same industry. This way you will get a feel for the kinds of trends to look out for during the real thing. Do as much research as you can into the organisation, its products and markets, its competitors and the industry in which they operate.

When given the presentation information, ensure you read the instructions and documents carefully and fully understand what is required of you. Read the whole document through once before beginning and once you have started keep your eye on the time.

Keep in mind that presentation exercises are designed to assess the following:

  • planning and analysis skills
  • organisation and time management skills
  • problem-solving abilities
  • verbal and written communication skills
  • your thought processes and approach to tasks

How to succeed in an interview presentation

Many people are understandably nervous when asked to deliver a presentation. After all, interviews alone are stressful enough without having to stand up and address a room of people as well. But delivering a presentation is actually a great way for you to get across different skills and attributes your potential employer may not otherwise get to see. Treat the presentation as an opportunity to lead the discussion, follow our advice below and you’ll feel confident and prepared.

Before the presentation

The employer will usually set the topic for your presentation so make sure you read carefully through any information they send to you. If unsure, ask the company to clarify what facilities will be available on the day i.e. laptop, OHP etc, exactly who you will be presenting to and how long your presentation should last. It’s especially important to research the roles of those you’ll be presenting to as this will help you to structure your presentation effectively.

Try to structure your presentation so it has a clear introduction the topic & issues and a concise conclusion. The main part of your presentation should display and analyse all the relevant facts and information on the topic.

If you elect to use MS PowerPoint, make sure your slides are interesting and innovative but are also clear and easy to understand. Use the slides to display relevant data such as graphs, charts and pictures but don’t add images just for the sake of it. Use bullet points on the slides to emphasise your main points but don’t simply read from the text on the slide. Use animations sparingly if at all; these can sometimes distract the audience and detract from your words, so think carefully before using them.

Make sure you have the opportunity to practice your presentation in front of an audience of friends or family before the big day. You should read it through and practice until you’re able to deliver the presentation without the aid of a script.

Decide whether you will distribute notes to the audience. If you plan to, print these out in colour on good quality paper. It’s also very important that you have back up copies of your presentation in case anything goes wrong on the day. Cover all bases by storing the presentation on a USB or flash drive, saving a copy of it in your personal email and printing out a copy to bring along as well.

During the presentation

Appear confident and self-assured at all times – even if you don’t feel it! Smile, try to relax and maintain eye contact with your audience at all times. Make sure you speak clearly rather than rushing to get to the end of the presentation. If you get lost or overcome by nerves, it’s okay to pause and collect your thoughts before you move on to the next point.

Although it’s tempting to have your whole speech written out in your hand, this will hinder you as you’ll be looking down at the paper rather than at your audience. Instead, have prompt cards with bullet points or key details which you can quickly glance at.

The end of your presentation should sum up your findings and argument succinctly. At this point, you may want to interject a little humour to leave your audience with a smile on their faces. Pitch this carefully and make sure it’s a joke which everyone will get and won’t offend on any level. If you’re unsure how best to end your presentation once you have delivered your conclusion, it’s a good idea to open up the floor to questions.