What are virtual assessment centres and how can you best prepare?

Virtual assessments are the new frontier for coronavirus recruitment. Hear what two assessment experts told TARGETjobs and gradireland about handling the process.

The term 'virtual assessment' is used to cover everything from video interviews to online psychometric tests, in-tray exercises and group presentations. As companies seek ways to avoid halting the recruitment process (and business in general) and continue to move online during the social distancing measures imposed by coronavirus, virtual assessments have become more common than ever before.

If your job application process has changed from an assessment day to an online process, it's understandable if you're feeling a little uneasy about what to expect. In order to address some of the biggest concerns, TARGETjobs and gradireland invited two recruitment experts to take part in a live, online drop-in session on virtual assessments.

In the video session above you can see more advice on:

  • What an assessment centre involves
  • How coronavirus has changed assessments
  • The types of online/virtual activities you are likely to face and how to prepare for them

Lauren Davies is a resourcing partner at Group GTI and has particular skills in facilitating assessment centres and advising employers on how best to implement virtual assessments. She suggests that there's a lot in common with a standard 'in person' assessment centre when you take part via video link. 'It's really important that you see this as the last stage in the recruitment process and give it the same level of respect as you would if you were doing a face-to-face interview,' says Lauren. 'Think about how you dress for the part: are you dressed appropriately? Make sure your background is suitable. We understand that things are really tricky. You're going to be in a location where you would never normally show yourself. Just have a look around, make sure that there's nothing like your washing drying or an old poster in the background and try to look as professional as possible.'

Charlotte Hek, resourcing coordinator at Group GTI, is the first point of contact for many students about how to undertake an assessment centre and frequently provides advice and support ahead of the big day. When it comes to individual or group presentations, she suggests that practice is key. 'If you're faced with a presentation, you should be given a brief ahead of time as to whether it will be something about yourself – maybe a hobby or an interest – or perhaps it'll be something more technical, where you have to present a business problem and your solution to it,' says Charlotte. 'I know it probably sounds quite simple, but it's really important that you practise and know the content that's on your slide. Time yourself, and know how long the presentation is going to take you. You might also find it useful to practise with friends or family over Zoom or FaceTime.'

Watch the rest of the webinar for more tips on how to handle virtual assessment centres. In the discussion, the experts debate everything from whether it's acceptable to take part in an interview while sitting on a bed, to how group exercises are likely to be handled online and what an in-tray exercise involves. Throughout the video, we were dropping in links to useful content across the TARGETjobs and gradireland sites. You can find a lot of useful links below: