No, this isn’t a post about Mastermind, this is about the assessment centre, albeit the mock one, we went to as practice for the real ones we will most likely experience at some point.
An assessment centre is a method used by employers to interview and, as the name suggests, assess multiple candidates in as short a time as possible. The activities can range from role playing, to straight interviews, and often team work and problem solving too.
In the practice session we attended, there was one main task; that of the interview. Once organised into groups, we were given interview sheets and a selection of questions (in a sealed envelope, to add to the suspense). Roles were assigned including – interviewee, head of the panel, and scribe. These roles would be rotated several times until everyone had played each part.
The overall aim of this activity was to provide everyone with the chance to practice being interviewed or to experience for the first time, which was the case for myself. Having never gone through a formal interview process for anything, I found this to be a great help in preparing myself for what it would be like when I inevitably have to go through a real one.
The feeling of sitting in front of a panel of important people asking important questions which would ultimately determine my employability is tense, intimidating, and scary. So in some ways it would be easy to compare to Mastermind. Sitting in that big black chair being asked questions in an attempt to win [a job].
At the end of the day, the interview itself is simple and fairly easy, after all the questions are all about you. For example, there were many easy questions being asked – “Give an example of a time you used leadership.” or “What skills did you gain from working at this job?”.
The part that makes it tricky is the use of obscure and somewhat abstract questions, this is where many people get tripped up. Questions such as “If you were a biscuit, what biscuit would you be?”. There really is no wrong answer to this question, but it does take a lot of thinking to be able to say that a custard cream requires team work from both biscuits to hold the centre cream while the middle takes a leading role in delivering the necessary flavour. Describing the skills you have in terms of a jammy dodger or a rich tea is when things get awkward, but as this workshop proved to me, if you simply think about what you have to offer and have a confident personality with some good examples in your life lined up – you’ll be fine.