Assessment Centre Advice part 1: Be Yourself – by Elliott Binks

Elliott introIf you’re reading this then it’s likely that you’ve been invited to one of Microsoft’s upcoming assessment centres; in which case, congratulations! Microsoft have a tough job screening thousands of applicants each year, so you’ve done really well to reach this final stage of the application process.

Furthermore, if you’re reading this then it’s likely that you’ve heard that these assessment centres can be rather daunting prospects. And while I’m not here to tell you it’s going to be a walk in the park, I am here to offer you some tips and advice to help you make the most of this opportunity.

Because at the end of the day that’s what this is; an opportunity.

Not just an opportunity to get a big-name company on your CV, but an opportunity to develop yourself on both a personal and professional level. An opportunity to prepare yourself for future assessment centres that could make or break your career in the not-too-distant future. An opportunity to meet with your potential employers and understand what it is they’re looking for. An opportunity to prove your worth.

My point is that you should consider the Assessment Centres as a podium on which to shine, rather than an obstacle on which to trip. Regardless of whether or not you’re ultimately successful, you can still use the Centres to acquire valuable skills and experiences that will undoubtedly serve you well in the future – whatever career you may pursue.

But, of course, we want you guys to be successful – so how can we help you achieve that?

In all honesty, the most important piece of advice I can offer is to make sure you be yourself. You’ve probably been told this before though, so rather than leave it at that I’m going to explain exactly *why *this is important.

1It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the Assessment Centre hype, particularly when you consider that you could be meeting your future manager for the first time. But remember that managers are a part of a team – just like everybody else.

For that reason, they’re not necessarily looking for applicants who have memorised the latest share price or can recite a timeline of the company’s history. They’re looking for people that they like. People that they can get on with on a personal level. People who aren’t going to make them tear their hair out if they’re working on a major project together!

I remember the first time I met with some of the higher-ranking members of my team at the assessment centre. I had allowed myself to feel a little intimidated by the magnitude of the situation, but after sitting down and having a chat with them I soon felt comfortable and relaxed. To think that these were the same people who I now often have drinks with after work just goes to show how silly it was to feel intimidated by the situation.

And remember, the managers and assessors already know what you’re capable of. They’ve seen the qualifications, the CVs, the degrees you’re studying. They know who you are on paper.

What they don’t know is who you are in person.

3That being said, there’s a point at which you may wish to draw the line. Probably best to avoid spending the day telling them about what antics you got up to last Saturday night, or the amount of times you’ve missed that 9am lecture that you can never be bothered to get out of bed for…

But if you let your personality and strengths shine through then you’re well on your way to having a successful Assessment Centre. There is still much work to be done on the day, but in being yourself you’re going to feel massively more comfortable – and that’s going to make answering questions or carrying out presentations a whole lot easier.

If you have any specific questions about Assessment Centres, then please don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at the blog. It’s our job to help you guys out during your application so we’d love to hear what is or isn’t useful.

I’m going to be writing a number of these assessment centre advice articles in the coming days and weeks, so make sure you stay tuned to the Be Your Future blog for more updates!

And if you’re lucky enough to have an Assessment Centre coming up, best of luck!

Eager to read more?