What to Expect from an Assessment Centre

One of the most common steps in finding a job as a graduate is attending an assessment centre. Before I’d actually been to one I was so confused as to what it would involve, would I be doing tests, would it last all day, would it just be me there? Most employers/recruiters aren’t actually very good at communicating what an assessment centre is and what you would actually have to do, so I thought I’d put together a little guide based on my own experiences. I’ve been to a few over the past few years for various internships and job applications so whilst I do have a pretty good grasp, it’s important to remember that each will be slightly different depending on the company and the role you’ve applied for.

Essentially, an assessment centre is a group interview held at the company offices, usually taking a couple of hours. It’s a great opportunity for you to present yourself to employers, as well as a chance to have a look around the office and see if you can get a feel for the company culture, which is so important! You’re there to be interviewed, but you have to also make sure the company is a good fit for you.

Will this be my only interview?

In my experiences, unfortunately not. Assessment centres are usually the first or second step (after a phone/video interview) in the application process. Assessment centres can have anywhere between 6-20 applicants attending, which in itself is pretty varied. I recently attended one where there were 29 of us and it was honestly a total disaster. The more people there are the harder it is to make yourself stand out, but stick around till the end of the post for my tips on how to best present yourself and succeed!

I have also been to assessment centres for recruitment companies, where the interview is only for you to get accepted on to their books and not for a specific role. If you are attending an assessment centre like this, I think the most important thing is to be enthusiastic. You’ll have further interviews for the specific roles, so the recruiter is just testing your ability to present yourself.

What will I be doing?

All the assessment centres I have attended have followed roughly the same format. After waiting for the whole group to arrive, you’ll be taken to an interview room, usually a large table with chairs round the outside. The company will then give a short presentation about themselves, highlighting what they do and a bit more about their culture. This is a great chance for you to find out more about them and their style. If I find my mind wandering during this first section then it’s not a great sign that the company is a good fit for me.

This is usually followed by some icebreaker exercises. Introducing yourself with a fun fact – prepare two or three in advance because this has come up at every single one and it’s not a great start if you don’t have one thing to say about yourself! There will then be some group/partner exercises, whether that’s you doing a mini interview with your partner and then presenting them to the group or working together on some sort of group task. I’ve had everything from working together to rank the most important items if you were stranded on a desert island, to having to come up with a product and pitch it to the whole group. Honestly, these group exercises usually have little to do with the role itself and are just a chance for the interviewers to see how you work in a group, so my best advice here is to listen! Make sure you are actively listening to your group members, commenting on what they are saying and offering your own ideas.

There will then usually be a short break, which is such a great chance for you to go and have a nosy round the office! Whether I need to or not I always try and go find the bathroom during this break so I can have a little explore, as you get a much better feel for the office and the people working there when you are by yourself compared to being led around in a group.

Then comes the one to one interview. I’ve written a separate piece on how to best prepare for an interview, but this is your chance to shine. This is when you really need to get your personality across and show why you specifically want the job. The group tasks are great for them to see you working in a team, but the individual interviews are where they will test your competency and determine why you actually want the job.

Sounds fine right?

It is! An assessment centre might seem intimidating, but it’s also a great chance to meet some fellow job hunters and find out how their experience is going! I’ve met some great people over the past few weeks and getting to share my thoughts and difficulties with them and hearing theirs is actually very comforting. Finding a job in a graduate market is so difficult, but really everyone is in the same boat!

One thing that isn’t quite so nice is that unfortunately there can be cuts throughout the process. I did not realise there was going to be cuts when I recently went along to one and I was absolutely shocked. Halfway through they split us in to two groups and half the room were taken away. There’s no other way to describe it other than savage. However, if you do find yourself in this situation and you aren’t successful you have to see the positives – no point in you wasting your time and going through the one to one interviews if they have already decided you aren’t a great fit.

So here are my ultimate do’s and dont’s. After your first one, they really do become easier as you will have a better idea of what to expect! Hopefully this post has given you a bit of an understanding of the process, don’t forget to share it with anyone who’s currently looking for a job and might need some advice!

Do’s

  • Listen to everyone
  • Speak to the other candidates whilst you are waiting – not only is it a nice thing to do, having an ‘interview friend’ will make you more comfortable
  • Bring water and a notepad and pen
  • Give a firm handshake
  • Be confident!

Dont’s

  • Sit on your phone while you are waiting – first impressions count
  • Treat it like a competition
  • Talk over anyone
  • Sit in silence – it’s a hard balance between talking and listening but sitting in silence won’t help you either!
  • Expect it to end on time
What to expect from an assessment centre, pinnable graphic by londonsnewgirl

Dear Diary… I GOT A JOB

Perhaps the most exciting post I’ve written since I started blogging again. So far on londonsnewgirl you’ve all read about my journey trying to find a job in London. I’ve talked about everything from interview prep to dealing with rejection and now I can finally share some good news – I’M EMPLOYED! Well, I will be when I start full time on September 9th.

What an absolutely whirlwind of a job-seeking experience. I knew the day would come when I’d actually get a job but finding motivation when I’m sitting in the house watching Ed go off to work and dealing with rejection was pretty damn hard. I’ve recently written about how hard it is to be a graduate and that post had such an amazing response. I’m glad I can now be an example of how hard work can pay off and help others who are struggling with their job hunting experience.

So what’s my job? For various reasons I don’t want to go in to too much detail, but I’ll be working for a publication coordinating their German adverts. A job in media that uses German? Quite literally a dream! The office is on fleet street and I thought my mum was going to cry when I told her. I’ve always loved writing and journalism, so to have my office on a street that is so iconic makes moving to London feel all that more real. I’m right in the heart of the action and I don’t think that is ever going to stop being exciting!

As I had to go through a recruitment company to get an interview for the role, I had three interviews in total! One assessment centre, an initial interview with the company and then finally a presentation. Luckily for me the process was rather speedy in comparison to others and exactly a week after the first interview I received a job offer.

One thing nobody ever talks about though is how scary it is actually accepting it! I’d been working towards a job offer for months, but as soon as I actually had one I was full of nerves. What if I don’t like it? What if I am not good at it? Am I about to make a mistake? I’m a chronic over-thinker so this probably doesn’t apply to you, but after reconciling myself to the fact that yes, I probably will absolutely love it and yes, they wouldn’t have offered me the job if they didn’t think I’d be good at it, I was thrilled to accept.

So now I have a week or so to sort myself out. Finish collecting some final pieces for my dream work wardrobe, make sure we lock down a flat now that we both have jobs and ultimately enjoy my last little bit of Summer Holiday freedom. The thought that I’m about to start the rest of my life is a little doom and gloom and I’m trying to see it as such a big opportunity to finally start achieving some of my long term goals!

Leicester Square Kitchen | Review

Leicester Square Kitchen facade, London

Bank holiday Monday was glorious, Ed and I decided to have a date day and booked tickets to see Captain Corelli’s Mandolin at the Harold Pinter Theatre as it is his favourite book. So of course I went on the hunt for the perfect pre-theatre menu for some pre-show indulgence.

I came across Leicester Square Kitchen on bookatable.com and was totally sold by the fact they had been featured on celebrity Masterchef and the concept behind the food was sharing. I think it’s a given fact that girls love sharing food with their boyfriend’s and the boys all turn in to James Corden from Gavin and Stacey with his lamb bhuna. (If you don’t understand the reference google it because depending on who you side with it will say a lot about you as a person).

The pre-theatre/lunch menu works as follows: each person picks one dish from each section and there are three “main meal” sections and a fourth of deserts. We were completely full after three so it ended up being £22 each for six dishes. Considering how crazy London prices can be I think this is such good value as tapas style meals are notoriously expensive!

Before I dive in to the individual dishes, I want to give a shout out to our waiters as the service we received was excellent! Whilst the restaurant was pretty empty as we were eating early, the staff were so attentive and made sure out water was refilled, cleared away empty plates promptly and were very conscious to check we had everything we needed!

Whilst I haven’t taken a picture of every dish (we had up to three dishes crammed on our tiny table at any one time and I was honestly just too interested in the food) I have ranked all six dishes we had out of ten, to hopefully give you an idea of the ones you simply can’t miss out on! We did also have quac and chips to nibble at the start and the quac was simply divine. It came in pretty steeply at £7.50 for what was just a bowl of quac and tortilla chips, but I would hesitantly say that the price was worth it for one of the best quacs I’ve ever had!

Crispy Duck and Pomegranate ensalada with papaya chilli dressing, Leicester Square Kitchen, London
CRISPY DUCK AND POMEGRANATE ENSALADA WITH PAPAYA CHILLI DRESSING
cripsy duck and pomegranate ensalada with papaya chilli dressing 10/10

This was the absolute stand out dish for me! I’m not normally a massive salad person, I’d never normally order a salad in a restaurant but the thought of crispy duck and juicy pomegranates was something I couldn’t not try. For me, this dish had the perfect balance between the meaty duck, zesty dressing and the bursts of freshness from the fruit. Both Ed and I agreed this dish was one of our favourites, hence why it’s earned the top spot on my list. A lovely fresh addition to the line up!

CRIPSY TIGER PRAWNS WITH CAYENNE PEPPER MAYO 9/10

These were some of the juiciest prawns I have ever had in my life! This was our final course to arrive so by this point we were pretty stuffed, but the fresh and crispy prawns helped me power through. Despite being cooked to perfection in a crispy batter, the prawns kept their salty flavour and were delightful. The cayenne pepper mayo was such a great accompaniment and was my favourite dip of the day, as the others were a little too tequila-y for me.

MEXICAN MATCHSTICK CHICKEN WITH HABENERO 8/10

The matchstick chicken was simply divine. Ed and I have sampled a lot of chicken wings over the past few months after being in the states and even have tickets to go to wingfest (don’t ask) in a few weeks, but I honestly think this chicken will be hard to beat. The only thing that stopped it getting the full 10/10 was the habenero sauce. Obviously habenero is a hot chilli, however it really was just a bit too much after the multitude of strong mexican flavours we had already eaten by that point. Instead of leaving a full flavour in my mouth it just burned which was not the best when we still had a few dishes to eat.

Robata Pisco Glazed Smoked Paprika Ribs, Leicester Square Kitchen, London
ROBATA PISCO GLAZED SMOKED PAPRIKA RIBS
ROBATA PISCO GLAZED SMOKED PAPRIKA RIBS 8/10

The ribs had an almost sweet yet smoky taste and were a really nice break from all the spicy Mexican flavours. The meat was so tender and was served sizzling hot in a cast iron dish. The sauce was sticky and very more-ish and if you are a rib lover then these are a must order, as they were so different to the BBQ ribs I am used to.

BLACK PEARL PEPPERED CALAMARI WITH TEQUILA LIME SAUCE 7/10

The only reason this dish wasn’t rated any higher was simply that I preferred the prawns and they were very similar. The calamari was lovely and crispy, let down only by the sauce. I am not a tequila fan, but mixed with food I don’t mind it, yet both Ed and I found ourselves saying that the sauce had an uneven tequila flavour and some times it was just too overpowering. Still, if you are a seafood lover then it is a lovely dish and worth sampling!

SMOKED TUNA TOASTADAS WITH TEQUILA LIME MUSTARD TOASTADA 6/10

I would say that this was the only dish I ‘didn’t like.’ It came in a platter of three and usually Ed and I would either fight for the third or split it, but after one bite I handed him the third instantly. To be completely honest I’m not sure what element of the dish it was really that didn’t do it for me, but I think the mixture of the raw tuna with tequila was just a little off. The flavours just didn’t quite mesh harmoniously together for me, hence it comes bottom of my list with 6/10.

I would definitely consider going back to Leicester Square Kitchen if we are ever in the area again, as there were so many other dishes we wanted to try! Even if it was just to order six of the duck salads… For a pre-theatre menu I think the value for money is excellent and if you like Mexican/Peruvian food, or are just a fan of strong flavours and trying something new, then I would definitely recommend a visit!

Have you ever been to Leicester Square Kitchen? Let me know in the comments! If not, leave a comment with your favourite pre-theatre menu in London and I’ll be sure to check it out!