Assessment Centre Advice - Sales

By this stage of your application, you’re most likely aware of which particular business area (or stream) you’ve applied for at Microsoft. And though our many Assessment Centres tend to follow a largely consistent format, there can sometimes be subtle differences from stream to stream. Therefore, in the interest of giving you guys the most applicable advice possible, we’ve compiled some advice pieces that are relevant to specific streams.

This particular article provides you with insights from our current crop of Sales interns. Of course, much of the advice given is suitable to other roles and streams – so don’t let that put you off. Just bear in mind that some particular points may not be necessary elsewhere (for example, a manager who is looking for a Sales intern isn’t necessarily going to be blown away by your knowledge of C+ programming). I’m sure you get the point though :)

Whichever area of the business you’re applying for – we hope you find something useful!

Jessica Blake works in Reading as an Account Technology Strategist and she has a number of useful tips and pointers for you to take on board:

  • > Be confident in yourself and relaxJessica Blake 1
  • > Most importantly, Microsoft is a people place so remember to be relaxed and show that you have a personality and are able to engage and talk to others
  • > Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I remember when one of the managers explained the business’ organisational structure to me and I was so confused I really had no idea what he was on about. So I asked leading questions which showed I was interested and that I was listening
  • > Sometimes in group activities I think it is important to take a step back and just listen and see what is going on. From there you can make a more valuable contribution rather than just speaking for the sake of it.
  • > SMILE

Nick Luscombe is also based in Reading, and tells us about the ways in which you can prepare for the Assessment Centre and some of the things you may want to think about regarding a sales role in particular:

It sounds a little lame but I truly believe that if you fail to prepare, than you prepare to fail. Make sure that you are properly prepared for the day and not only will you perform better but you will also be more confident and more able to be yourself.

Nick LuscombeFor my preparation I made a lot of use of the Be Your Future blog, learning about the culture of Microsoft and the sort of activities which I might be doing in my role. This proved to be extremely useful in my Assessment Centre.

Also, make sure that you know why you want to work in sales and what motivates you. The year won’tbe a walk in the park and a genuine interest and desire to do the role you are applying for is essential.

Last but not least, make sure to dress smartly. First impressions count! Good luck and I am sure it will be fine :)

Daniel Gibson echoes Nick’s closing thoughts and also reminds us of the importance of first impressions. He’s based in London and has the following advice for you:

GibboThe first thing I want to mention revolves around first impressions and how you should handle yourself during the whole assessment day. Everyone knows first impressions count and this in particular rings true in Sales as you’ll be working with external clients and agencies on a daily basis, so ensuring your first impression is a positive one is vital to the job.

Simple things like greeting fellow candidates and the interviewer with a handshake and a smile can go a long way and are often easily forgotten about. These small things give off a great first account of yourself and often help ease you into the interview, as well as showing the interviewer that you’re confident and professional. It shouldn’t be forgotten that this will put not only yourself at ease but also the interviewer too.

My second top tip is to prepare relevant questions to ask at the end of the interview – this is a must. It shows you’re engaged and that you’ve taken the time to really research the role and that you’re eager to learn more. Try to prepare these prior to your interview, however if something comes up in the interview that you want to focus a question around, then that’s even better as it then helps turn the interview into more of a two way conversation rather than simply a one-way flow of questions.

Finally… good luck!

*Calum McEwan is an Advertising Solution Sales Specialist and works alongside Daniel in London. His advice is as follows: *

Calum McEwanOne key aspect I want to highlight to you is to remember to relax during the Assessment Centre. I know this standard advice but really think about your answers and your conversations. Remember that under pressure your perception may make you feel that time goes very quickly but take a minute to collect your thoughts and answers, as it can help you answer the question or complete the task in a better way. Politely ask if you can have a second to think about it or if you are really stuck ask to come back to that question at the end.

I would also recommend that you prepare and take examples from your own life and try and apply them to the sales role. This could be hitting a target, building relationships, examples of upselling/up-weighting, dealing with time pressures and of course client facing skills such as presenting. These examples do not have to be in a professional format, they could be charity work, University projects or even something from your personal life. It is just great to show you have applied these types of skills in other parts of your life already.

We hope that you’ve found something useful here. All of this advice is really useful and well worth taking on board. If you’ve got any further questions though, please feel free to comment below or get in touch with us here at the Be Your Future blog.

And best of luck with your Assessment Centres!

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