How to stand out and secure a job at a Graduate Assessment Day

Having been on three graduate assessment days aimed at sales roles and having been a top performing graduate on each day and ultimately securing a role with a top blue chip company, I wanted to share with you my top tips for being successful on the day. Throughout I will give examples on how I secured my Graduate role with Barclaycard.

My Top 7 Tips:

  1. Homework is key

Before your assessment day do your research. There is nothing worse than turning up to the assessment day not being clear on what role you’re applying for and not knowing about the business and their background. When I went to the Barclaycard assessment day I did my research; Wikipedia (for a basis overview), LinkedIn both on the business page and research the people that work for Barclaycard, the company website, their social media pages and if possible physically go and check them out (for example visit their offices or if applying for a retail role visit their shops, talk to their staff, ask questions). You want to gain as much in site and knowledge, so that you are fully armed for the assessment day.

  1. What is your USP

Before you go, really think about what makes you different from everyone else, everyone will have a 2:1, everyone will pretty much have or have had a part time job, everyone will have joined or been part of a society at some point in the three years. What really makes you stand out? What have you done that nobody else has? What have you exceeded at? Some of my examples were running a profitable business at university, being a trustee of a charity and sitting on recruitment panels for new university staff.

  1. One Sharp Sentence Sells

In the three assessments days I went to they always asked you to stand up in front of the whole room and give your greatest non-academic achievement. This tends to be at the start of the day and can really set you apart from the rest of the crowd. My assessor told me afterwards that they pick everyone they want to interview from what you say, how you present and how you act in this early task of the day. Getting this right is one simple and easy way to almost guarantee you a place in the interviews at the end of the day.

  1. Get the balance right in group exercises

The secret to standing out in group exercises is all about getting the balance right between taking the lead and not taking the lead. What I mean by that is you want to be seen to take the lead in a group situation by taking control of a task in one way, but at the same time you don’t want to be seen as taking over and taking too much control of the task, that you don’t let others be heard or let others get involved. My advice would be to do things such as taking control of the time, in many group exercises you only have a limited time to do a group activity, most people in the group will forget about the time. So by taking control of the time at the beginning, state you are going to do so, give the group updates and being strict with it. This is a really easy example of taking the lead by taking control of a small element of the task, allowing others to take the lead with other elements of the task and showing how you can contribute but also stand out in a group exercise.

  1. Make your presentation stand out

If you are asked to do a presentation on the day, preparation again is key, don’t be that person that does it the night before, you will know and the person who is listening will be able to tell. The secret is to make it your own, add your flare to it and plan in advance. Just remember to make it true to yourself and not some ‘copy and pasted’ presentation that everyone else is going to use.

  1. Grasp every opportunity

Throughout the day different opportunities will arise and it will be the ones that grasp those opportunities that stand out! For example on my assessment day I got talking to one of the managers and ended up having lunch with them, I was able to find out more about the role, the business and the team. Make every second of your day count. This is your one day, don’t take the back seat and hide away, this is your time to shine.

  1. How are you going to benefit the business

Finally have a really clear idea of how you, your skills, your experience and your willingness to learn and your energy are going to help enable the business to success and drive their profit. How are you going to be able to make a difference?

I hope this has helped give you some ideas to really stand out on your assessment day.

Please do share this article with anyone you think it might help.

Any questions drop me a line on: james@jamesloveday.co.uk

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