Assessment Centre Advice part 3: Turning Negatives into Positives - by Elliott Binks

Elliott introAssessment Centres are all about selling yourself. Experiences, skills, and qualifications that you’ve acquired are typically the most obvious ways of impressing your interviewers.

But another way to set yourself apart is the way in which you learn from mistake – or in others words, your ability to turn negatives into positives. This is something that I’ve touched upon in previous posts, but today I’d like to discuss the topic with you in a littlemore detail.

Let’s face it, nobody is perfect.

I don’t think any of the applicants to the intern program, past or present, could boast that they’ve succeeded in every single thing that they’ve everhad a go at. For those who think they could be an exception to this statement though, 1) fair play and 2) maybe you should consult my previous article

I jest… but joking aside, I’m sure you guys get the point.

Anyway, obviously you don’t want to spend your Assessment Centre harping on about these negative points. But it’s a useful skill to have to be able to be self-critical enough to admit to your shortcomings, and then prudent and conscientious enough tolearn from such errors and turn them into strengths. Furthermore, there could be a possibility that you may be asked something along the lines of “how did you deal with a certain setback” for example.

For these reasons, it’s important that you make sure you are prepared for such eventualities, as there are very few things worse than having nothing to say when asked a question in an interview.

pcSo how exactly do you go about do this?

Firstly, I’d advise you make a list of each of the experiences that you could call upon as an example of a negative situation that you turned into a positive one. As mentioned previously, I once spoke in an interviewabout an event that my friend and I tried to set up during our first year at Uni (which ultimately proved to be a bit of a fail). I know of other people who’ve used similar types ofexperiences that may not have necessarily been classed as a success, but still required a lot of skill or planning and thus were productive at least in some capacity.

And that’s the key point, because this is where step two comes in.

Take those experiences that you’ve made a list of, and think about what it was thatyou actually did and most importantly, what you learned from it all. Transferrable skills such as punctuality, organisation, planning, cooperation, communication and so many more can all be drawn from jobs, projects or ventures that you may have attempted at some point in your life. Using my example once more, the simple fact that my friend and I showed a lot of enterprise and ambition reflected well on us, while the meetings and negotiations that we had carried out gave us a valuable insight into how to conduct ourselvesin professional situations.

The third and final step involves what you then do with these skills – how you apply them to Microsoft and your future career. It’s no good explaining what you’ve learned if it doesn’t relate to Microsoft or the role that you’re applying for. Through my aforementioned experiences I gained a pretty decent knowledge of the costs of bouncer hire in Bristol – but if I’dcasually tried to drop that into my Assessment Centre they’d probably have thought I had a fewscrews loose.

libraryMy point is, make sure what you’re explaining is relevant – otherwise it’s useless. Brainstorm some examples, ascertain what it was that you indirectly learned from them, and then work out how you can apply that to the role that you are interested in.

Of course, your assessors are not guaranteed to ask you these types of questions as every Assessment Centre tends to be different. But it’s wise to be prepared for such an eventuality.

Hopefully you’ve found something here today that can be of use to you. I’ll be writing again shortly, but in the meantime feel free to browse the rest of the blog as we have a growing collection of Assessment Centre advice from a number of interns currently working within the company. And of course, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at the Be Your Future blog if you have any questions about Assessment Centres or your application as a whole.

And as always, best of luck!

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