For those applying for Apprenticeships or Degree Apprenticeships, you will often be facing more than just a one to one interview. It could be you are asked to take part in an Assessment Centre day. These will vary depending on the company, but will often include multiple and various different stages or stations. The idea with this approach is that employers are able to see beyond the grades you have achieved and your academic ability and discover your other talents and skills. If you perform poorly in one area, you could show real promise in another section and still get the job. This type of interview day could therefore actually work out in your favour. Although you can’t revise for any questions or tests that may come up, you can get an idea of what to expect and practice how you may respond with some mock scenarios. These can be very helpful as you just need to apply similar techniques to the new situations in your real interview.
Some of the possible tasks you could be set are below. Remember you can speak to the Careers Team in school to get advice and a mock.
One to One Interview- The traditional interview where you answer questions from one interviewer. A great opportunity to build a rapport through your conversation.
Panel Interview- This is a little more intimidating, as multiple interviewers will be sat asking you questions, but try to remember they are searching for your best qualities, so sell yourself.
Group interview- You may be asked to have a discussion with other candidates and this will be watched by the interviewer/s. It could be you are put into a role play or given a scenario to tackle. The key to success here is to remember to work as a team. Don’t be too quiet; you want to look like you can make an impact and share your ideas confidently. However, a word of caution; do not take over the task and talk too much; you may seem controlling. A good leader listens carefully to the opinions of others, makes sure everyone feels included and helps to do the work to make the project a success. Don’t be a boss; by this we mean don’t take over and assign roles without a discussion on who feels most confident in which role, don’t give everyone tasks and leave none for yourself other than telling people what to do; get stuck in with the work too. Don’t talk over people. Listen to others and before sharing your thoughts say: “I love this about your idea, but could we adapt it a little to include…”. If you notice that somebody isn’t talking in the group, don’t leave them out and think it is their loss, instead bring them into the conversation by asking for their thoughts.
Scenarios - You may be given a task, similar to what you would face each day if you got the job. For example, it may be that the company is trying to persuade a customer to open an account with them but they have no access to their website to show off their product. What do you do? The first thing is not to panic and put too much pressure on finding the correct answers. The interviewer is much more interested in how to try to solve the problem, so think out loud. If you are in a group scenario, they are looking at how you work as a team, getting to the final solution is not really their focus.
Role plays - This can feel a little embarrassing. You are being asked to act out a part. Maybe an interviewer wants you to act like an unhappy customer, while another candidate acts as the shop worker. Don’t worry; your acting skills are not being judged. They will be focused on how the person playing the shop keeper clams you down and makes you feel valued.
In-tray exercises - Similar to scenarios and role-plays, you will be put into a mock work situation. You may be given a series of tasks at the same time (in your “in-tray”) and you will need to decide which tasks to complete first and work your way through them. As well as looking at how you approach each task, this is also a good opportunity for the employer to test your organisation skills and your ability to prioritise the most important tasks.
Psychometric tests - You may be asked to complete a test before or during your interview. Psychometric tests assess your skills, knowledge and/or personality. There are many different types of psychometric tests, all assessing different qualities. Common tests include abstract reasoning, situational judgement, error checking, numerical reasoning, spatial reasoning and verbal reasoning. All sounds a bit daunting, but you are not expected to perform perfectly. Unfortunately, you can’t revise for them; they are designed so that you don’t know what could come up, but remember the employers are not trying to trick you and if you are right for the job, these tests will help show the skills that maybe your academic grades can’t. Remember to read the instructions carefully, keep an eye on any time limits and try your best. You may not be able to revise, but you can practice online to help familiarise yourself with what it may be like. There are lots of websites offering free tests, but they also try to charge you for some too, so be careful to avoid these.
Presentations - You may be asked to prepare a presentation on a given topic. You will usually be told this when you are invited to interview, so will have lots of time to prepare at home. You can practice the delivery of the presentation to the careers team and receive feedback before you go.