Written by Mitch McCrimmon, Ph.D.
The most important point is to be yourself. While you want to make a good impression, there is no point trying to fool the interviewer if that means getting a job where you are a poor fit. If you worry too much about assessment, you are likely to show your anxiety and not do well anyway.
You can best increase your chances of doing your best by relaxing and reviewing your strengths regularly in your own mind. Your preparation time is better spent researching the company. Employers often discount assessment results for a knowledgeable, motivated and enthusiastic candidate, but brilliant assessment results will not usually compensate for deficits in these areas.
Types of assessment
- Structured interviews
- Situational interviews
- Background interviews
- Assessment Centers
- Personality profiles
- Ability tests
- Structured interviews - interviews structured around the most important criteria or competencies for the job - listen carefully to gain an understanding of what competency is being explored with each question. You will be asked for an example of how you demonstrated each competency. Prepare your best two examples for each competency, keeping in mind that a single example could illustrate a number of competencies. See typical competencies below for a range of managerial and non-managerial jobs.
- Situational interviews - you are posed hypothetical situations and asked how you would handle them. If you are not allowed to ask for more detail, state any assumptions you make when replying and how your response would vary if other assumptions were made. See sample question.
- Background interviews - traditional recruitment interview - explores your career in chronological order. Worst mistake is to provide excessive detail - best to start with bottom line result and two or three key points, then ask where further detail is wanted. Where possible explain reasons for moves in terms of career progression. Avoid negative statements about ex employers.
- Assessment Centrers - a series of job simulations - group exercises, presentations, role plays, written case studies. Don't worry if some of these terrify you. The point of so much variety is to give you a chance to do your best in at least some situations. If you do really well in one or two, a less effective performance in one or two is often overlooked. The worst thing to do is let one poor performance undermine how you approach the other exercises. Assessment Center tips.
- Personality profiles - easy to do questions about how you approach work and typical life situations. Be honest. Transparency is better than creating doubt and confusion in the mind of the interviewer. What weakness is worse than dishonesty?
- Ability tests (also called Reasoning Tests) - variety of job related tests - anything from numerical and verbal reasoning to mechanical dexterity and clerical skills. In most of these tests, speed is important so you need to work as fast as you can while maintaining a high degree of accuracy. It is better to get finished and then check your answers if you have time left than to spend too much time checking as you go. Sample questions for graduate and managerial roles : Reasoning Tests
Competencies for career success
Most job interviews don't cover more than 10 or 12 competencies, but prepare examples for each of the typical competencies listed below. Questions will be of the form: ''Tell me about a time when you...''
- Analytical Ability - logical and practical solutions to problems
- Decision Making - confident, timely, well judged decisions
- Innovation - novel solutions, thinks outside box
- Initiative - proactive, independent action
- Results Focus - strong focus on bottom line deliverables
- Tenacity - determination in the face of obstacles
- Adaptability - changes/learns quickly in varying situations
- Organization - well managed approach to projects
- Customer Focus - driven by customer needs
- Quality Focus - high output standards
- Communication - clear; listens well, informs others
- Networking - proactive in building range of contacts
- Team Work - cooperates, shares, supports others
- Sensitivity - considerate of others
- Vision - paints clear and stimulating picture of way ahead
- Influence - gains full commitment of others, varies approach
- Empowering - delegates, coaches, supportive
Career Management Tips