Assessment Centres for Postgraduates


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This is part of our Essential Guide to Careers for Postgraduates from the University of Manchester Careers Service, and deals with Assessment Centres

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  • OPQs – not very common
  • Can mention Belbin if anyone knows of it – use your preferred roles to benefit the team
  • Assessment Centres for Postgraduates

    1. 1. Assessment Centres for Postgraduate Masters & PhDs Elizabeth Wilkinson University of Manchester Careers Service
    2. 2. The Assessors Toolkit <ul><li>Variety of different exercises & activities: </li></ul><ul><li>Interview(s) </li></ul><ul><li>Written tests – </li></ul><ul><ul><li>aptitude, personality </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Presentation </li></ul><ul><li>Individual exercise </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. In-tray, case study </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Group exercise </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. group discussion, role play, design-and-build </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. What Is An Assessment Centre? <ul><li>A way of assessing a candidate’s performance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>in a variety of ways </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>in a variety of settings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>when interacting with other people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>in exercises which simulate aspects of the job </li></ul></ul><ul><li>AIM is to predict performance and behaviour against set criteria </li></ul>
    4. 4. Assessment Centre Design
    5. 5. Logistics <ul><li>May take one afternoon or a couple of days </li></ul><ul><li>Often residential – formal evening meal </li></ul><ul><li>Involve between 6 to 20 candidates </li></ul><ul><li>Often second stage after successful first interview </li></ul>
    6. 6. Psychometric Tests <ul><li>Verbal and numerical reasoning </li></ul><ul><li>Diagrammatic/logical tests </li></ul><ul><li>Occupational / Personality Questionnaires </li></ul><ul><li>Some paper based, some electronic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>if initial test was done on-line, often re-test at assessment centre … </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Ability or Aptitude Tests <ul><li>Usually timed </li></ul><ul><li>Under exam conditions </li></ul><ul><li>Right and wrong answers </li></ul><ul><li>Unusual to finish all questions </li></ul><ul><li>Results compared with norm group </li></ul>
    8. 8. Tips For Success In Tests <ul><li>Do a practice test beforehand </li></ul><ul><li>Listen to instructions before test for clues </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some tests are negatively marked </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tests should always begin with practice questions - ask if you don’t understand </li></ul><ul><li>Work quickly but if you get stuck - move on </li></ul><ul><li>Keep calm! </li></ul>
    9. 9. How To Prepare For Tests <ul><li>Practice tests at the Careers Service: £5 for Verbal & Numerical tests </li></ul><ul><li>Become familiar with test conditions </li></ul><ul><li>Brush up basic maths - percentages, ratios, etc </li></ul><ul><li>Use reference books in the Careers Service </li></ul><ul><li>Use examples and free practice tests on Careers Service website at http:// /careers/tests or SHL website at http:// </li></ul>
    10. 10. Personality Questionnaires <ul><li>No point in trying to “fix” them – end up in a job which is a bad fit for you </li></ul><ul><li>Generally not timed – no right or wrong answers </li></ul><ul><li>FREE on-line questionnaire for Manchester University students at </li></ul><ul><li>“ Type Dynamics Indicator” - similar to Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunity to get feedback on your preferred ways of working and interacting with others </li></ul>
    11. 11. Feedback <ul><li>Tailored report analysing your preferences, and how they influence : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who do you want to work with? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How might others see you - </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>as a leader ? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>as a manager ? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>as a decision maker ? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>in resolving conflict ? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The kind of work and work environment which play to your stated preferences </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Group Exercises <ul><li>Why use them? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Because you generally don’t work alone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Because what you say you would do (in interviews) isn’t always what you really do </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Assessors will be observing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>WHAT you do </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>i.e. did you accomplish the task </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and also HOW you do it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>i.e. what you said, your body language, how you behaved towards other members of the group </li></ul></ul></ul>
    13. 13. <ul><li>Completing the task </li></ul><ul><li>Share information – whiteboard/flipchart? </li></ul><ul><li>Suggest ways to proceed/tackle problems </li></ul><ul><li>Summarise main points </li></ul><ul><li>Ask for and give facts/opinions/ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Keep the group on target/time </li></ul>Hints for Group Exercises
    14. 14. <ul><li>Maintaining the peace </li></ul><ul><li>Bring others into the discussion </li></ul><ul><li>Listen carefully </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage others </li></ul><ul><li>Clarify others’ ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t attack other people or put them down </li></ul>Hints for Group Exercises
    15. 15. Hints for Group Exercises <ul><li>Play to your strengths </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t have to be the leader </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do have to play an active part eg. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Make sure everyone is involved </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Come up with the bright ideas </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Keep time </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Record decisions / results </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Keep an eye on the end goal </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Presentations - Think AUDIENCE <ul><li>Audience are frequently not experts in your subject </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>but may still expect you to explain your PhD/Masters! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Aim for no more than 1 slide for every two minutes of your presentation </li></ul><ul><li>What impression is it making - for the job? </li></ul>
    17. 17. Other Elements… Case Studies In-Tray/e-Tray Exercises Tours or Presentations Dinner
    18. 18. Three Points To Remember <ul><li>If you get invited to an assessment centre: </li></ul><ul><li>You are very close to a job </li></ul><ul><li>You are not competing against the other candidates </li></ul><ul><ul><li>… .You may end up working with some of them! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Assessment centres are (generally) fairer than just interviews </li></ul>
    19. 19. Further Help <ul><li>Assessment Centre video, now streamed from Careers Service website at : </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Handouts on </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Assessment Centres </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>general handout </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>handout for research students </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Practice in-tray exercise </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Presentation skills </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>If you’re invited to an assessment centre </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ASK what they are going to do to you! </li></ul></ul>