To succeed at your assessment day you need capability and confidence in the following areas: 

Check out our free guides & tick them off as you progress. (Click the links below to go straight to the relevant guide.)

We hope you find this cheatsheet useful. It’s a great roadmap to follow.

Good luck and speak soon! -Mike Kennedy

mkppic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PS: If the above links don’t work for you go to this page (where I promise they’ll work!) www.assessmentcentrehq.com/cheatsheet

 

This Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre guide includes practice tests, coaching videos and dozens of top tips, tricks and insider-secrets for success. Let’s get started!

1 useful starting-point resource

  1. You can practice the Fast Stream verbal & numerical tests here

Download our Ultimate Assessment Day & Interview Guide 2021 here. (It's packed with tips, tricks and insider-secrets to help you succeed.)

civil service fast stream assessment centre

The All-Conquering Importance of Preparation

Ok, before we look at each element of the Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre we’d like to put something squarely on your radar: the all-conquering importance of preparation.

We often get emails from people asking for help at their Fast Stream assessment centre. They want to know the ‘short cuts’ to success, but honestly, there are none. It’s boring, we know, but the ‘secret’ to success at the Fast Stream assessment centre is simply lots and lots of preparation.

You cannot over-prepare and every minute you spend preparing will pay you back richly. (If there’s one thing we’ve noticed over the years it’s that successful candidates are always better prepared than unsuccessful ones.)

‘Ok, I get the picture. How should I prepare?’

  • You can read this guide. (Well done, so far!)
  • Go through the competencies exercise below.
  • Lastly, and most importantly, you should practice the Fast Stream verbal and numerical tests.

Civil Service Fast Stream Practice Tests

You should practice the Fast Stream aptitude tests like a demon.

IMPORTANT POINT: Different employers use different test suppliers. This is very important when you’re taking practice tests as the style, content and format differs from one test supplier to another. The Fast Stream numerical and verbal tests are supplied by Cubiks and you can practise the Fast Stream Cubiks tests here.

civil-service-fast-stream-assessment-centre

The Assessment Centre Exercises

There’ll be a variety of activities at your Fast Stream assessment centre and, strangely, they can take place in any order.

Here’s what you’ll face:

  • Leadership Exercise
  • Written Policy Recommendation Exercise
  • Group Discussion
  • Numerical Reasoning Test
  • Verbal Reasoning Test
  • Interview & E-Tray Exercise

To be honest, the exercises are pretty standard stuff. With the right preparation there’s very little to fear here.

Internalise & demonstrate the competencies

Regardless of which exercise you’re performing at your Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre, you need to know (and ideally, demonstrate) the Fast Stream competencies.

It’s a long and slightly tedious list but bear with us – we’ll explain why this is important in a moment:

  • Seeing the big picture
  • Changing and improving
  • Making effective decisions
  • Leading and communicating
  • Collaborating and partnering
  • Building capability for all
  • Managing a quality service
  • Delivery at pace
  • Delivering value for money
  • Achieving commercial outcomes

You need to reflect this language back at your assessors, this list of disparate bullet points should become a ‘script’, of sorts, that you vocalise AND demonstrate throughout your assessment.

ACTION POINT: Spend 60 minutes reviewing this list of competencies. During this time you should do 2 things:

  1. Internalise the language and phrasing. These words need to become part of your vocabulary.
  2. Prepare examples from your past experience when you have demonstrated each of the competencies. These examples will be your secret weapon during your interview later. (We’ll discuss these more later in this article.)

civil service fast stream practice tests

The Civil Service Fast Stream Assessment Centre Exercises

Ok, we’ve covered the most important overarching points. (The importance of preparation and of embodying the competencies.) Now let’s look at each exercise of the Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre individually.

The Leadership Exercise

You will take part in a role-play with your assessor.

  • Your assessor will assume the role of a senior manager, with you acting as a team leader.
  • You will be given a brief that highlights some issues that need resolving. Your goal is simple: you need to find solutions to these issues.
  • This exercise will last a total of 30 minutes. (This includes preparation time, the role-play itself and post-task Q&A.)

In our experience, most candidates absolutely hate role-plays. But with the right preparation they can become an enjoyable showcase of your skills and a highlight of your Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre.

If you feel that you need extra help in this area you should check out our Role-Play MasterclassIt has dozens of secret tricks & top tips and includes a proven framework that you can follow to deliver a world class role-play.

The Group Discussion

This is another element of the Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre that people worry a lot about.

  • You and your fellow candidates will each be given an individual brief. You will then have 30 minutes to prepare.
  • Your objective in the discussion is to get the best result, both for you as an individual and your group.
  • The assessors will be looking at how clearly you communicate, how well you listen to others and how strongly you put your arguments forward.
  • The discussion will last for a total of 15 minutes and is an influential part of the Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre. Why? Because it shines a very bright light on your people skills.

We’ve written extensively about group exercises elsewhere on the site. You should read our free guide: “How To Succeed in Group Exercises

The Written Policy Recommendation Exercise

Ok this is an important part of the Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre. This written exercise lasts for a whopping 1 hour and 45 minutes!

There are two tasks and you must complete both in the given time.

Task 1 – You will be given information from a variety of sources, on two possible projects. Your task will be to analyse both sets of information, and to choose which project you would recommend.

Your written report should show strong, clear arguments for your recommendation as this is what you will be assessed on. (Your choice of project is less important, it is the arguments that matter most.)

Task 2 – Following on from task 1, you will need to use the information provided to convince stakeholders of your position. This task only requires 15-20 minutes.

fast-stream-assessment-centre

The Fast Stream Numerical Reasoning Test

This is a standard numerical reasoning test. As explained above, it is vital in any job application that your know which test supplier your prospective employer uses. (There are big differences in test content and format from supplier to supplier.)

We always recommend these tests as the best Civil Service Fast Stream practice tests. They are Cubiks tests and they also contain full answers and explanations, so you can identify where you’re weak and strengthen in that area. They are transformative for your chances of success.

It’s important to remember the tests are timed and you are being benchmarked against the other candidates so literally every second counts. Practice, practice, practice.

We’ve written extensively about how to pass numerical reasoning tests elsewhere on the site. You should check out our free guide on how to pass numerical reasoning tests.

The Fast Stream Verbal Reasoning Test

Again, your test provider here is Cubiks and you can practice the Fast Stream Cubiks verbal reasoning tests here.

You should read our free Ultimate Guide “How To Pass Verbal Reasoning Tests” for much, much more info on how to succeed in this area.

The Interview & E-Tray

This Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre interview is 100% competency based and will last for 40 minutes.

Here’s some top tips:

civil-service-fast-stream-assessment-centre

Know the Fast Stream competencies inside out

This is huge. For any competency based interview it is imperative to know what criteria you are being assessed on. Take each competency in turn and deliver your examples (remember we referenced them earlier in this article?).

When delivering your examples a fabulous framework to use is the STAR method:

STAR stands for: Situation, Task, Action, Result.

  • Situation – Paint a background picture of the challenge/problem. (EG, “Our department’s sales figures were down 5% year on year”.)
  • Task – Describe why it was a big problem. (EG, “We were in danger of missing our annual target.”)
  • Action – The Great Thing you did. (EG, “I won two new clients and boosted my team’s sales by 8%”.)
  • Result – The impact of your Great Thing. (EG, “We finished the year 2% ahead of our sales target.”)

This is a brilliant way of framing your answers for maximum impact. It takes practice though, so run through your example answers again and again. Say them aloud. (Sub-vocalising them in your head doesn’t work as well, trust us!)

To be able to deliver this well at your Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre you will need to rehearse dozens of times. Again, practice makes perfect.

Showcase your skills

Give a wide variety of examples. You know what they are looking for, give them both barrels, sell yourself!

Be positive

No one wants to work with a moaner. Don’t complain about the traffic that morning, or being hot on the tube, or the weather… Or anything! Positivity is the order of the day at the Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre. Speak with enthusiasm and show hunger for your future career.

Be yourself

Remember that your assessor will be wanting to get to know the real you. You should be yourself, as if you won’t be a good fit it’s in your best interest to find out now!

Ask questions

Questions demonstrate your drive, hunger and curiosity for the role. Ask lots.

You’re almost at the end of your Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre. Hang in there.

civil-service-fast-stream-assessment-centre

Civil Service Fast Stream Assessment Centre E-Tray

This is a standard e-tray exercise. We’ve written in detail about how to succeed in E-Tray exercises elsewhere on the site, so head over to that article for more expert advice and guidance.

Useful resources

Thanks and good luck!

We hope you enjoyed this free guide? Good luck in your future career and at your Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre.

Turbocharge your employability NOW

Get your copy of our Ultimate Assessment Day & Interview Guide here. It's packed with tips, tricks and insider-secrets to help you succeed.

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This EY assessment centre guide includes practice tests, coaching videos and dozens of top tips, tricks and insider-secrets for success at the EY assessment centre. Let’s get started!

Useful starting-point resources

Download our Ultimate Assessment Day & Interview Guide 2021 here. (It's packed with tips, tricks and insider-secrets to help you succeed.)


What will I learn in this EY assessment centre guide?

EY-assessment-centreThis guide will take you through each aspect of the EY Assessment Centre process; one the toughest corporate recruitment events of all. We’ll look at what to expect and how to succeed, step-by-step, in this notoriously challenging event.

Understanding the Bigger Picture

Before we discuss the EY assessment centre, it’s important that you see everything we’ll discuss here in context. Let’s zoom out and look at the bigger picture.

What are EY looking for in their employees?

Ernst and Young place a larger-than-normal emphasis on their company’s core values. They want to hire people that closely mirror those values.

It is vital that you spend time immersing yourself in the culture and language of EY before your EY assessment centre. (You want to look every bit like an EY employee at the EY assessment centre.)

Set aside an entire day to research Ernst and Young. Your brief is simple.

  • Understand the company
  • Understand your team
  • Understand your role.

Spend a few hours reviewing Ernst & Young’s latest annual report. Understand their current business challenges. Where are they headed? Is their business growing or shrinking? And in which sectors, services, territories? What do they want to achieve?

Ernst & Young’s Work and Culture

This video will give you a good introduction to EY’s culture:

The All-Conquering Importance of Preparation

Ok, as we move on to look at the EY assessment centre preparation we wanted to put something squarely on your radar; the all-conquering importance of preparation.

We often get emails from people asking for help. They want to know the ‘shortcuts’ to success at their respective interview or assessment centre. But honestly, there are none. It’s boring, we know, but the ‘secret’ to success at assessment centres is simply lots and lots of preparation.

You cannot over-prepare. Every minute you spend preparing will pay you back richly at the EY assessment centre. Successful candidates are always better prepared than unsuccessful ones. That’s a simple fact.

So how can you prepare for your EY assessment centre?

  • You should practice the EY aptitude tests like a demon. IMPORTANT POINT: Different employers use different test suppliers. This is very important when you’re taking practise tests as the style, content and format differ from one test supplier to another. Ernst & Young use Saville as their test provider and you can practise the Ernst & Young Saville tests here.
  • You should read our article “How To Prepare For Your Interview or Assessment Centre” – It will be a treasure trove for you in preparing for the EY assessment centre.
  • As already mentioned, get a copy of the Ernst and Young annual report.

Lastly, phone the hiring manager for your role.

Do some LinkedIn stalking. Phone the EY switchboard. Go guerrilla. Identify and then phone the hiring manager.

Ernst & Young assessment dayExplain to the hiring manager that you want to better understand the role and the short AND long term aims of the team and the company.

Hardly anyone will do this. (In this Email Age, a personal phone call is far too scary.) But skip this step at your peril, as this is an incredibly powerful way to firmly establish yourself in the hiring managers mind and it marks you out from the competition.

Approaching the hiring manager in this way shows initiative, drive and -when you think about it- simple intelligence. Why wouldn’t you want to speak to the hiring manager before seeking a role on his/her team?

Ok, there’s plenty of solid preparation steps for you to follow there. Let’s get into the detail of the EY assessment centre itself.

The Ernst & Young Assessment Centre Overview

For most people the EY assessment centre is the 7th step in the Ernst and Young recruitment process. Well done! Only 10% pass through the initial interview stage, so feel proud and celebrate your achievements so far.

What should you expect on the day?

Your EY assessment centre will include the following elements:

      • A Written Communication Exercise
      • A Group Exercise
      • Employee Lunch
      • Role Play – Case Study Exercise
      • Confirmatory Aptitude Tests
      • Interview

Let’s break each one of these EY assessment centre elements down and look at them in more detail.

Ernst and Young assessment centre

The Written Communication Exercise

You will be given 40 minutes to compile two reports, based on an information pack that you will need to analyse carefully, but quickly. This first report will test your communication and writing skills, your analytical judgement and your business acumen.

Understanding ‘commerciality’ is important here. (It’s important in everything EY do, actually.) This is a useful video from EY that seeks to more clearly define ‘commerciality’.

The second task will assess your work ethic, your striving instincts and seeks to provide Ernst and Young with a revealing insight into your character. This is where those values and competencies we spoke of earlier should come to the fore. You need to embody those traits in everything you do.

2 Quicktips

  • Both assessments will be computer based, so take advantage of spell and grammar checks.
  • Manage your time carefully. The classic mistake here is overrunning on report one and having too little time to fully address report two.

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Stop worrying! Download a 12-step assessment day cheatsheet & be perfectly prepared.

Click here to download your copy

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The Group Exercise

The EY assessment centre group exercise primarily looks at two things:

  • Candidates’ ability to work as part of a team
  • Candidates’ ability to demonstrate leadership

You will be split into groups of four. Each group will be given an information pack. You will have 15 minutes to analyse the information and then a further 30 minutes to discuss it as group.

This short video from EY focuses on their graduate group exercise. It’s worth a watch as it’s quite revealing in terms of the tone and the company culture.

Your minimum goal should be to contribute constructively to the exercise. Your best result is to establish yourself as the de facto leader of the group. This can be very hard to do, but you must try.

It’s a balancing act. Be confident and assertive, sure, but don’t be aggressive or overbearing. Strongly lead, but don’t bully.

If you feel you need more help in this area, you should check out our Ultimate Assessment Day Guide, it includes many more tips and highlights the tricks and techniques used by elite candidates in group exercises.

The Employee Lunch

Lunch is the time when you get to take a breather and relax, right? Wrong. You will be assessed closely during this influential period.

6 Top Tips For The EY Assessment Centre Employee Lunch

  • Ask questions. This is huge. You will be lunching with Ernst and Young trainees as well as senior staff. They are hoping to hire people who are hungry for success and keen to contribute. Your questions demonstrate this. (Also, a well-placed open question will provide you with a welcome 10-30 seconds to get some food/fuel in your stomach.)
  • Be polite. It may seem obvious but smile and listen and look interested. Some candidates can be so ‘in the zone’ that they are too intense and self-centred. Courtesy is the order of the day.
  • Be confident. This is easier to say than do, but you must project a capable and assured business persona. Ernst and Young is no place for shrinking violets. A great way to offset any nerves is to speak about your passion for the company and hunger for the role.
  • Appear relaxed. One of the key indicators of future potential is ‘comfort around senior management’. It’s normal to feel a little on edge, over-awed even, around senior business figures, but don’t show this. It’s ok to feel it, inside, but your exterior shouldn’t show it. How can you appear relaxed? Speak slowly. Don’t respond to questions with a hair-trigger response. Seriously, speak slowly. Smile. Act like you have all the time in the world. This projects an easy and very relaxed confidence.
  • Be positive at all times. No one on this Earth chooses to work with a moaner. Negativity is a completely forbidden character trait at the EY assessment centre. Don’t whinge about how hot it was on the tube, or the traffic on the way to the venue, or the weather, or anything – you are Mr/Mrs Positivity!
  • Make sure you eat lots. Some candidates are so busy schmoozing and chatting that they don’t refuel sufficiently for the rest of the day. Trust us, you will need calories to fuel your energy levels during the rest of this demanding event. Eat heartily and drink plenty of water.

EY aptitude tests

The Role Play Case Study Exercise

Ok, now we’re getting into the real meat of the EY assessment centre. The gloves are off. Let’s do this!

  • You will be given a detailed pack of information to analyse.
  • You will have 20 minutes to check for any mistakes in the information pack.
  • Once your 20 minutes are up, the fictional scenario will begin. You will need to talk to the staff member that prepared the information for you. This discussion will take place over the telephone, where you will have to give your analysis of their report and point out the mistakes that you found.
  • After the telephone call, you will discuss your findings and the call with a manager. Be prepared to be cross-examined on your findings.

‘This sounds awful, I hate role-plays!’

Most people hate role-plays. But with the right approach they can be an enjoyable showcase for your skills.

If you feel you need more help in this area you should check out our Role-Play Masterclass. It has dozens of essential tricks & tips and includes a proven framework that you can follow to deliver a world class role-play. 

The Confirmatory Aptitude Tests

You will have already taken and passed the online version of these tests but you will be asked to take the tests again to confirm your original results.

This is a vital part of the EY assessment centre; if you perform poorly in these tests you will not be hired. It’s black and white.

If you only take one thing away from this guide it should be this: You must practice the aptitude tests before the EY assessment centre. Remember you are being measured and timed against the other candidates, so literally every second counts.

Nothing will boost your chances of success more than repeated practice. It improves both your competence and confidence; it’s genuinely transformative for your prospects. You can practice the Saville EY aptitude tests here. To learn more about Saville Swift Executive Aptitude Test, click here.

I’ve written extensively about how to succeed in all the EY assessment centre tests elsewhere on the site. You can read our free guides for all of Ernst & Young’s aptitude tests below:

EY assessment day

The EY Assessment Centre Interview

Ok, the end of your EY assessment centre is in sight. This is your big moment. The interview.

There are two types of interviews that you may face but unfortunately, you won’t know which one until it begins.

You need to prepare for both.

EY CV-based interview

You may end up sitting a CV-based interview. This tends to be a very conversational and natural exchange.

You will walk the interviewer through your CV and expand on each point. (There will usually be some questions based on your application form too.)

EY Business-based interview

Ernst & Young assessment centreThe second type of interview is harder to prepare for as it’s much broader in scope. This is a ‘business-based’ interview, which will feature open-ended questions about any current aspect of the business world. This will assess your overall commercial awareness.

You will be quizzed about where you think Ernst and Young stand in regards to the issue, so this is where your preparation reaps rich rewards.

Heaven forbid you don’t know what services Ernst & Young offer or what their current business aims and growth areas are. (You can get all this info and much more from their annual report.)

This video from EY is useful. What is ‘commercial awareness’? How can you develop it?

 

Regardless of the interview format you sit, it will last for around 1 hour.

We have written extensively about interview technique elsewhere on this site. Check out the interview section for much more info.

Phew, that’s it!

And you’re done. After the interview your EY assessment centre will finally be over. The assessors will tally up the scores and have a roundtable to discuss their observations. A decision will be made and the wheels of HR will begin to turn.

Good luck for the future

We hope you enjoyed this free EY assessment centre guide and found it useful? We wish you the best of luck in your future career and at your EY assessment centre.

Turbocharge your employability NOW

Get your copy of our Ultimate Assessment Day & Interview Guide here. It's packed with tips, tricks and insider-secrets to help you succeed.

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This MI5 assessment centre guide covers the entire MI5 recruitment process from beginning to end. You’ll find practice tests, coaching videos and dozens of top tips, tricks and insider secrets for MI5 assessment centre success. Let’s get started.

MI5-assessment-centre

A useful starting-point resource

Download our Ultimate Assessment Day & Interview Guide 2021 here. (It's packed with tips, tricks and insider-secrets to help you succeed.)

What will I learn in this guide?

This guide will walk you through the entire MI5 application process and cover the MI5 assessment centre in detail.  You’ll learn what to expect and how to succeed.

Let’s start by covering a few basics.

What is MI5?

MI5 is the British intelligence agency, sometimes known as ‘the secret service’.

The ‘mysterious’ allure of MI5 (propagated by spy movies like James Bond) has undoubtedly enhanced the global status of MI5; it’s one of the most prestigious organisations in the world.

Of course, this means that competition for roles at MI5 is fierce and there is a robust application process that successful candidates must negotiate.

What does MI5 actually do?

This video from MI5 will give you a great flavour of what the organisation does, day to day:

The ‘real-world’ MI5

Firstly, let’s forget Hollywood. The real-world MI5 is much less glamorous and it’s important that you have a realistic idea of the day-to-day work that’s carried out at MI5.

Yes, the organization has a vital role to play in national security, but the vast majority of work at MI5 is similar to that at any other large employer: routine, detailed, administrative and managerial.

So with that big caveat in mind (and the shocking news that you will not get a license to kill), let’s look at how you can forge a path all the way to the MI5 assessment centre.

The MI5 Recruitment Process

The recruitment process at MI5 varies depending on the position you apply for but the assessment steps remain the same:

  • A written application
  • A security questionnaire
  • Online psychometric testing
  • The Qualifying Test
  • A telephone interview
  • A day at the MI5 assessment centre
  • A Final interview

It looks daunting, but don’t worry, we’ll go through each step of the process. (For more info visit the MI5 careers site.)

The Written Application

Initially, this looks like a standard letter of application, you will be asked to cover all your personal details, your qualifications and work experience, etc. So far so good. Here’s the twist.

You can only inform your partner or an immediate family member of your application. If there’s one attribute that MI5 values more than most other large organisations it’s discretion.

The sensitivity of the work at MI5 means you will be required to keep your duties, achievements, successes (and failures) entirely to yourself. You will never be publicly recognised for your hard work.

Think long and hard about this before committing any further. Are you comfortable with this?

MI5-assessment-centre

The Security Questionnaire

Apple are a technology company. McDonalds’ business is food. MI5’s business is security. This means they need employees they can trust. For this reason, you will be security vetted as part of your application.

You will be asked to provide any information in regards to drink and drug use, criminal convictions, and your time spent in other countries.

Be honest throughout your application and don’t miss anything out, even if you think it may damage your chances of success. If MI5 discover that you lied in your application your position will be immediately terminated.

(Before you decide to ‘leave out the truth’ in any of these areas, remember that MI5 has unparalleled access to personal data.)

The Online Psychometric Test

There’s an entire section of this site dedicated to psychometric tests and aptitude tests. It’ll be a treasure trove for you in preparing for the MI5 online tests.

The best way to boost your chances of success in these tests is simply lots and lots of practice. Practice is transformative for your chances of success as it improves your competence AND your confidence.

IMPORTANT POINT: Aptitude tests are not all the same. You need to identify the test supplier and only practice tests made by that supplier.

  • The secret to success in online psychometric tests and aptitude tests is to practice tests made by the test supplier that your employer uses.
  • MI5 use Cubiks as their test supplier. This means you should practice Cubiks tests, to ensure the practice test structure is the same as the real ones you’ll face.

You can practice the Cubiks MI5 online tests & assessment centre tests here.

Let’s look at the tests in more detail. There will be two psychometric tests:

  • The Situational Judgement Test.
  • The Cubiks Verbal Reasoning  Test.

Mi5-assessment-centre

The Situational Judgement Test

This test will analyse your problem-solving skills, organisational abilities, and powers of communication. It will also look at your approach to teamwork. There will be no time restrictions but you will need to complete every question.

You will be presented with a variety of imaginary situations that could occur in your chosen role. You will have to decide which of the solutions or outcomes is best.

This test is measuring you against the competencies required to carry out the role, so it’s vital that you practise with this in mind.

Request a copy of the ‘full job description’ for your role from HR at MI5. This will contain a table with the core competencies of your role. This is a checklist of what MI5 is looking for. It’s gold-dust.

This list of competencies should be your bible throughout your preparation. It should guide and inform all your decisions. Take the time to internalise all of the competencies and –this is important- think of examples in your past experience when you have demonstrated these competencies. (This will be your secret weapon during your MI5 assessment centre and final interview.)

The MI5 Verbal Reasoning Test

This is a standard MI5 verbal reasoning test. (You can read our verbal reasoning test success guide here.)

You will be presented with a passage of writing and then have to answer questions based upon it. The test is timed and you will be measured against the other candidates so literally every second counts. Both accuracy and speed are the criteria here.

The secret to passing MI5 verbal reasoning tests is lots of practice with your relevant test supplier.

You can practice the MI5 Cubiks verbal reasoning test here.

For many candidates this is the end of the line (the online tests are brutally effective at sorting the wheat from the chaff), but successful candidates will be invited to an MI5 assessment centre to sit the Qualifying Test.

MI5 online tests

The Qualifying Test

The MI5 assessment centre for the Qualifying Test is held in London so be prepared to travel if you live elsewhere.

The test will assess your comprehension and decision-making skills. Your paper will be assessed based on your ability to extract key details from large amounts of information; quality and speed are both important at this first MI5 assessment centre. 

The Telephone Interview

If you pass the qualifying test in the recruitment process, your next hurdle will be the telephone interview.

All interviews conducted by MI5 are competency-based. Competencies are the individual traits that are deemed essential for the role that you have applied for.

Again, get in touch with your HR or personnel contact and request a copy of the ‘full job description’. This will have the competencies spelled out very clearly and should be the chief working document that will guide you through the rest of the recruitment process.

Here’s a vital part of any competency-based interview:

  • The candidate should be able to highlight past experiences that demonstrate the competencies required.

When delivering your examples (in this stage and also at the MI5 assessment centre) a fabulous framework to use is the STAR method:

STAR stands for: Situation, Task, Action, Result.

  • Situation – Paint a background picture of the challenge/problem. (EG, “Our department’s sales figures were down 5% year on year”.)
  • Task – Describe why it was a big problem. (EG, “We were in danger of missing our annual target.”)
  • Action – The Great Thing you did. (EG, “I won two new clients and boosted my team’s sales by 8%”.)
  • Result – The impact of your Great Thing. (EG, “We finished the year 2% ahead of our sales target.”)

This is a brilliant way of framing your answers for maximum impact. It takes practice though, so run through your example answers again and again. Say them aloud. (Sub-vocalising them in your head doesn’t work as well, trust us!)

Let’s look at an example…

You could be asked to give an example of when you had to make a hard decision. You will not be asked if you can make a hard decision. (Everyone would simply say, ‘yes’. You must give a specific example of the hard decision you made and why –overall- you made the right call.)

With this fresh in your mind, take the time to think back on your experiences and evaluate them in terms of the core competencies of your specific role.

Don’t skip this step! This is genuinely vital.

If you’re serious about getting the role you want, you must take the time to prepare these examples. (Don’t settle for any example, make each one very strong: There was this big problem; this is what I did; this was the outcome.)

Ok, next up we’re heading to the MI5 assessment centre.

Mi5-assessment-centre

The MI5 Assessment Centre

If you’re successful in the telephone interview you will be heading back to London, for a full day at the MI5 assessment centre.

Unfortunately, reliable and up-to-date information about the MI5 assessment centre is extremely hard to find. The MI5 candidates clearly understand the need for discretion and are doing a great job of keeping the MI5 assessment centre details secret!

Here’s what we do know about the MI5 assessment centre:

  • You will be assessed on your communication skills, decision making and ability to analyse complex data and make sound judgments.
  • Being in good health and having a good level of fitness will help you.
  • Revisit the key skills in the job description, seize every chance to demonstrate the core competencies of your role at the MI5 assessment centre. They will figure largely in the hiring decision.
  • Lastly, be aware that you will undergo a thorough vetting process during the MI5 assessment centre. (You will be interviewed and expected to provide personal information in regards to your health, lifestyle and background. There will also be questions about your financial status and history.)

The Final Interview

So you have made it over all hurdles, aced the MI5 assessment centre and now are ready for your final test. Congratulations on making it this far!

This will be a panel interview, carried out by a selection board. A panel interview can be a very daunting prospect. Try not to think of it as more people

Try not to think of it as more people judging you. The best way to visualise a panel interview is to imagine this is group of people who all want to like you. They want you to succeed, they‘re looking for people they’ll enjoy working with. No-one is there to shoot you down.

Also, bear this fact in mind: A panel interview is a much fairer hiring process. If there’s only one recruiter and they don’t take a liking to you, you’re snookered. There is much less chance of this happening with a whole group of recruiters.

As with any interview, there are the common areas of etiquette that you need to know. You should spend some time reading the interview section of this site and definitely read our free guide “how to prepare for an interview”.

This interview will be competency based, just like the previous telephone interview. Use the same guidance and follow the STAR method.

The importance of (really) being yourself

Be yourself. Don’t put forward a false position, that won’t help you in the long-term.

An interview is a two-way conversation, if you won’t be a good fit for MI5 it’s better for you to find that out now. Be yourself. Get the job on your own merits and genuine personality or find out that you’re not a good fit (and wouldn’t enjoy working for MI5). Either way in this scenario, you win. Be yourself.

Get the job on your own merits and genuine personality or find out that you’re not a good fit (and wouldn’t enjoy working for MI5). Either way in this scenario, you win. Be yourself.

One final resource

Nothing will boost your chances of success in the MI5 testing elements than repeated practice.

Thanks and good luck

We hope you enjoyed this free guide and found it useful? Good luck for the future and in your MI5 assessment centre.

Turbocharge your employability NOW

Get your copy of our Ultimate Assessment Day & Interview Guide here. It's packed with tips, tricks and insider-secrets to help you succeed.

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This IBM assessment centre guide includes practice tests, coaching videos and tons of tips and tricks for IBM assessment centre success.

1 useful starting-point resource

    1. You can practice the IBM assessment centre tests here.

Download our Ultimate Assessment Day & Interview Guide 2021 here. (It's packed with tips, tricks and insider-secrets to help you succeed.)

About this IBM assessment centre guide

IBM-assessment-centreThe IBM assessment centre is notoriously long and challenging, and sadly the reality is that most candidates fall short.

We received so many emails from people asking for help that we decided to create this guide to give candidates all the tools they need to succeed. Let’s get started!

IBM assessment centre overview

Ok, let’s cover the basics first. What do you have to do at the IBM assessment centres?

  • Group exercise 1 – Logic
  • Group exercise 2 – Case study
  • Confirmatory IPAT Test
  • Paired team exercise
  • Individual communication exercise
  • An Interview and/or Presentation.
  • A Final Interview

Phew! As you can see there’s a lot here. Despite the IBM assessment centre having a tough reputation, it’s pretty standard stuff. (This is how most big corporate employers recruit nowadays.)

We’re going to look at each element of the IBM assessment centre in detail. But before we do, here’s a short video from IBM UK with successful candidates sharing their top tips.

(It will give you a useful and broad overview before we dive into the detail of each activity.)

How To Succeed In Group Exercises

Before we look at each of the IBM assessment centre exercises in more depth, we’d like to prepare you for group exercise work as a whole. The IBM assessment centre focusses heavily on group exercises, so it’s vital that you perform well in this area.

  • How do you get yourself noticed?
  • How can you appear to be a team player but still shine individually, and show leadership qualities?
  • What are the elite behaviours the assessors are looking for? How should you behave?

For answers to all these questions and much more, you should read our Group Exercise Success Guide, and listen to our podcast on Group Exercises.

Go and have a read and come back here when you’re done.

Ready to continue? Ok, let’s look specifically at the IBM assessment centre group exercises.

IBM group exercise 1 – ‘Logic’

IBM-assessment-dayThe assessors at your IBM assessment centre will split the candidate pool into smaller groups of 5-7 people. Each group will be watched by 3 assessors, who will concentrate on 2 candidates each.

They will remain silent during the 30-minute exercise and will evaluate your performance and take notes throughout. (You will be scored on each element throughout the day.)

Your group will be asked to make a decision about a fictitious event or scenario. You will be supplied with plenty of background information in order to come to your decision but be aware that you will need to be able to explain how and why you came to your conclusion.

3 simple-but-impactful tips for this part of the IBM assessment centre:

  1. Try and be the person who reads the brief to the rest of the group. This shows assertiveness and drive and immediately makes you the early ‘leader’ of the group.
  2. Offer to be the timekeeper, to ensure the group stays on track. This is a brilliant and non-aggressive way to ensure you will be a central figure in the discussion.
  3. Make sure you read the brief thoroughly. It’s amazing how often nervous and eager-to-get-started candidates miss an important point or misinterpret the brief!

IBM IPAT test

IBM group exercise 2 – ‘Case Study’

In this part of the IBM assessment centre you’ll remain in the same group; this is helpful as you’ve already had a chance to assess the other candidates. If you felt unhappy with the first exercise, don’t worry. Take this opportunity to redeem yourself and show the assessors what you’re made of!

  • This exercise is also 30 minutes long.
  • You will be asked to plan an event for a would-be client.
  • There will be plenty of information available to analyse and inform your planning.

Here’s the exciting bit: There will also be an opportunity to question your ‘client’ for 4 minutes. (The ‘client’ will be one of the assessors of course.)

You must work together in order to get the most out of this time. This is a pivotal point in your IBM assessment centre, choose your questions wisely.

IBM assessment centre

TOP TIP: Open questions are solid gold

A killer question to ask is: “If we were having this conversation a month after the event, what has to have happened for you to feel that the event was a huge success? Tell us what your dream solution looks like.”

The assessor/client will initially be deliberately coy about sharing this info (you have to work for it, that’s the whole point of this exercise!) so this killer question cuts through all that uncertainty, forces the ‘client’ to give up the most important details, and this provides a very clear brief for the group to work to.

Throughout your IBM assessment centre you will be assessed against IBM’s core values – we’ll cover this in more detail later. One of these is ‘client focus’. This is a great opportunity for you to put a huge tick next to this important box.

Your group will then have to present your plan to the client. It’s vital here that the timings and responsibilities are clear.

TOP TIP: If possible, be the person who provides the final summary/plenary. Again this marks you out as a significant member of the group.

IBM assessment centre video

This is what IBM’s HR team are looking for from candidates in the group exercises at the IBM assessment centre:

The confirmatory IPAT test

You will have completed the online version of this test earlier in your application process. This version will be handwritten and shorter in length, at 22 minutes. (Calculators are not allowed.)

Time to brush up on your skills. This is what this site is all about! Check out some of our other success guides:

Time for lunch and a well-earned break

After the IPAT test you get to take a breather. Phew!

Unfortunately for most of the candidates, they will be sent home at this stage. Let’s make sure that you are not one of them.

The paired team exercise

The IBM assessment centre afternoon session begins here, with this role-play exercise.

You and your partner will be given 20 minutes to prepare for a task. You will need to digest lots of information and to plan your Big Idea during this period.

At the end of the 20 minutes you will both be invited to role-play, with your assessor acting as the client. You and your partner will be acting as representatives of IBM who are pitching your idea to the client.

Remember that the planning is being assessed as much as the pitch itself. Allow your partner to share their input, during both planning and pitching stage.  This is a 50-50 split remember. (And that works both ways – don’t be afraid to firmly assert yourself if your partner is taking over.)

IBM assessment centre tipsTOP TIP: Get clarity on your idea early on, then spend the majority of your time on how best to pitch it.

(A classic mistake candidates make is spending too long deciding on the Big Idea and not having enough time left to discuss how they’ll communicate it with massive impact.)

Role-plays can be daunting, but you can boost your competence and confidence quickly with the right guidance:

The interview and/or presentation

The last exercise of the IBM assessment centre depends on the role that you have applied for. (Your joining instructions will make this part clear.)

If you have to do a presentation you’ll have been given your topic in advance, allowing you to research and prepare beforehand. You should read our success guide for assessment centre presentations.

The final interview will be with the hiring manager and will be CV-based. You need to base all elements of your communication posture on IBM’s core value competencies:

  1. Adaptability
  2. Client Focus
  3. Communication Skills
  4. Creative Problem Solving
  5. Drive
  6. Passion For IBM
  7. Taking Ownership
  8. Teamwork

ACTION POINT: Set aside 60-90 minutes in your preparation for the IBM assessment centre preparing an example of when you’ve demonstrated each of these competencies. Think of examples from your own experiences, that show each competency in action and make sure you communicate the outcome.

Competency-based interviews are formulaic – you must communicate in that formula to score highly.

Learn more about IBM’s core values and recruitment strategy on the IBM careers site.

Learn about IBM’s history and your role

This is vital. You will be asked why you want to work at IBM. You will be asked what you know about IBM. Spend an hour or two learning about its history, the company has an interesting background.

Here’s one of IBM’s development team, explaining what they look for in successful candidates at the IBM assessment centre:

Review IBM’s annual report

Spend at least 1 hour going through IBM’s latest annual report.

  • How is the company performing at the moment? Turnover? Net profit?
  • What areas of the business are growing? What areas are shrinking?
  • Is the market up or down? In which areas?
  • How are IBM’s competitors performing?
  • What are IBM’s aims? What are they looking to achieve in the next 5-10 years?

One of the mistakes many young graduates make is they fail to see the “big picture”. At your IBM assessment centre, you can impress your interviewers by having a grasp of these big picture metrics and discussing them with confidence.

These are the metrics all large corporations use to measure their progress; candidly discussing them marks you out as a potential future leader.

Prepare questions for your interviewer

At the end of your IBM assessment centre you will be given a chance to ask questions of your interviewer. It’ll be tempting at the end of a long day to say “no thanks, we’ve covered everything”, but you should ensure you ask at least 3-4 questions.

(Even if you’re not genuinely curious, having questions shows that you are engaged, hungry and interested in the company and the role.)

This video has a host of questions from real IBM interviews. It also has some useful hints and tips for how to answer.

Behave with confidence

Be confident, be energetic, be positive. Interviews can be a thing to dread or a chance to shine, it’s all about your midset. Seize the chance to shine at your IBM assessment centre.

Few things are more disappointing than a missed opportunity, especially when nerves are to blame. Anxiety can undo all your hard work and preparation.

If you’re concerned about your nerves, read our guide “how to cope with nerves at your assessment centre“.

Go through your CV with a fine-toothed comb

You need to know your CV inside out. You will be asked about it in more detail, including your previous roles and why you left them. Be prepared for this. Your CV will form the basis of your interview, this is the framework you and the interviewer will walk through, so own it!

A final piece of advice

If you take only 1 thing from this guide, let it be this: Your success will be decided by your preparation.

Here’s 3 action points for you that we would describe as ‘must-do’:

  1. You can practice the IBM assessment centre tests here.
  2. You should read our guide “how to prepare for an assessment centre“.
  3. You should read our “group exercises success” guide.

Good luck!

We hope you enjoyed this free guide? We wish you the best of luck in your future career and at your IBM assessment centre.

Turbocharge your employability NOW

Get your copy of our Ultimate Assessment Day & Interview Guide here. It's packed with tips, tricks and insider-secrets to help you succeed.

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Looking for Assessment Centre Tips? You’ve come to the right place. This is the web’s number 1 resource for assessment centre preparation.

Download our Ultimate Assessment Day & Interview Guide 2021 here. (It's packed with tips, tricks and insider-secrets to help you succeed.)

1 useful starting-point resource

  1. You can get hold of a full suite of interview preparation tools here.

The prospect of visiting an assessment centre can fill even the most confident candidates with dread but this doesn’t have to be the case. Let’s look at some tried and tested assessment centre tips. Let’s get started!

Assessment Centre Tips – 1 – Preparation Equals Success

This is the most important, most fundamental tip that we can give you. Successful candidates are always better prepared than unsuccessful ones. This may not be a quick-fix assessment centre tip, but preparing beforehand is the foundation of success.

  • Know the company and role inside out
    • This is vital. Research the company or organisation. Understand their ethos – what do they strive to do or achieve?
    • Understand what their ‘ideal employee’ looks like by researching on their website.
    • Speak to people within the company.
    • Devour the job description, you should know this like the back of your own hand.
  • Take every practise exams and test that you can beforehand. If you know you’ll be doing numerical/verbal reasoning tests then practise them. We show you how to pass these tests in the Aptitude Test Success area of the site. Here’s some quick links for you filled with tips on how succeed:

assessment-centre-tips

Assessment Centre Tips – 2 – Invest In Your Wellbeing

When people ask us for assessment centre tips they’re usually looking for a quick-fix, some snappy soundbite that will transform things for them. But the honest answer is there isn’t one thing that will give you a huge boost. You need to do several fundamentals well and this is the most often-overlooked fundamental.

It’s vitally important that you prepare your body and mind if you want to get the best from yourself and avoid fatigue.

  • Sleep. In the run up to your assessment day, try to get into a regular sleeping pattern. Getting sufficient sleep is vital for concentration and feeling alert.
  • Exercise. Try to exercise at least 3 times a week for a month prior to your assessment centre. Exercise releases endorphins that promote wellbeing and reduces stress and anxiety. And you will feel more energised! Just don’t push yourself too hard, if you’re new to it. Start out with something gentle like walking.
  • Eat right. Eat a healthy, balanced diet in the weeks leading up to your assessment centre. This will help you look and feel at your best. Eat a healthy breakfast on the day of your assessment centre. It will keep your sugar levels from crashing and stop you feeling sluggish and lethargic. Try to drink plenty of water. Take a bottle with you on the day.

 

Assessment Centre Tips – 3 – First Impressions Count 

This may seem obvious but take a minute to realise the importance of your first impression. Until people know you they will judge you by how you appear.

  • Show that you mean business by being dressed for business. Be smart and look professional.
  • Be punctual. This is huge. Arrive earlier than the time specified. If you are unsure of your route or need to use public transport, ensure that you leave adequate time for potential delays or getting lost.
  • Make sure that you bring everything with you that you will need. For instance, any paperwork or identification that may have been requested. Read your invitation carefully, so not to miss anything.

assessment-centre-tips

Assessment Centre Tips – 4 – Be Someone They Want To Employ

Sounds relatively simple, right? There are several character traits that all prospective employers will embrace – Equally there are some they will not.

  • Be polite and friendly. Remember that not only are they assessing your abilities, they are also looking for somebody that will fit in with their current team. Smile. Simple, yet incredibly affective!
  • Be conscientious. Ask questions and show that you are taking the day seriously.
  • Be personable. This can be difficult for many as you are usually meeting people for the first time and don’t wish to seem unprofessional. Being personable doesn’t need to compromise your professionalism. Just be aware that the assessors want to get to know you, so make an effort to be yourself and let your personality shine through.
  • Avoid negativity at all costs. Remember this even during breaks and lunch. You never know who is listening. There could even be a company employee impersonating a recruit (seriously!). Think about your conduct, no matter who you are talking to. Nobody likes a complainer, so be positive.

 

Assessment Centre Tips – 5 – Become An Aptitude Test Ninja

Aptitude tests are often the difference between a candidate passing or failing. We can’t reiterate enough just how important it is that you practise them. The first step in doing so, is knowing the types of test supplier your employer uses.

Read your invitation, contact your employer’s HR dept if needs be and research the tests for your assessment day.

Here’s our aptitude success guides:

Once you know which test supplier will be used you should practise tests made by that supplier. Here’s some quick links:

Ok, we’re halfway through our list of assessment centre tips. How are you feeling? Still with us? Good! Let’s keep going!

assessment-centre-tips

Assessment Centre Tips – 6 – Get To Grips With Group Work

There will almost definitely be some kind of group assessment carried out on the day. You are trying to join their team, so it is crucial that you excel in any group assessment.

  • Try to take the lead. This is going to get you noticed by the assessors straight away. Don’t push it to the point of being bossy to others. (There is a difference between showing leadership skills and being bossy and uncooperative!)
  • Be friendly. Smile at the other candidates, try to remember their names. Compliment them on their input. Thank them for their ideas.
  • Be confident. Show the assessors that you have understood what the group has been asked to do. If you have an idea, put it forward. Do not be afraid to speak up. You don’t want to disappear into the background as others flourish.
  • Be collaborative. Encourage quieter members of the group to contribute. This shows a really great quality in that you are aware of all members of your team and want them all to succeed.
  • Be courteous. Don’t undermine or critisise other members of the group. Be courteous and allow everyone to take part. Remember that you want to come across as a strong participant in your own right but equally, you need to show that you have the respect and patience required, when working in a group.

Assessment Centre Tips – 7 – Ace Your Interview

Your interview is the big moment. It goes without saying that you have to perform strongly in your interview if you want to get the job. But of course, that’s easier said than done isn’t it? This hinges on your preparation around a few key areas:

  • Be totally clear on the key skills and competencies required for the role. They are your holy grail. They should guide your every sentence.
  • Before the day, spend some time thinking of real-life examples when your experiences have matched the competencies. This will give you a library of examples that you can draw upon during your assessment centre. Have an example in mind for each one. If you cannot think of an example for a particular competency, do not tell the assessor! (Instead, think of an example that could occur in the future.)
  • Revisit your original application form, to remind yourself of what you have already told them about yourself.
  • Have questions in mind, for the Interviewer. This shows your interest and desire for the role and the company, overall. (This Guardian article has a good list of questions you can ask.)

You can get hold of a full suite of interview preparation tools here.

This area really is a huge beast and we’ve dedicated a whole section of this site to Interview Success. Click the link to find out more interview secrets and assessment centre tips.

  • Know your CV/Resume, inside out. You will very likely be asked why you left your previous positions, so be prepared with your answers.

assessment-centre-tips

Assessment Centre Tips – 8 – Be Crystal Clear On Your Goals (Read Carefully)

Throughout the day you will be faced with instructions, questions, rules and demonstrations. Do not rush. Do not scan read. Take the given time to make sure that you have a full understanding of what is expected of you.

assessment-centre-tips

Ask questions if you’re not 100% clear on what you’re required to do. If you are sitting an exam, read each question thoroughly and be confident BEFORE ansering the questions that you are addressing the central concern of the question.

Pressure leads to silly mistakes. We’ve seen it happen, so don’t rush!You wanted assessment centre tips, right? This one is massive! You’ve worked too hard to fail because of something as simple as a misread question.

Assessment Centre Tips – 9 – Don’t Be Disheartened

Your assessment centre will be made up of many different elements. Some will go well for you and some will not. The key is to not worry about exercises that don’t go as well as you would like. Don’t worry about it! Assessment centres are designed to highlight your weaknesses as well as your strengths, so try not to dwell on things.

Don’t allow one ‘bad’ section of the day to influence your performance overall. 

Of all of the assessment centre tips here, this is one that we want you to bear in mind on the day itself. There are very few people that excel in every area of an assessment centre, so don’t give up. Dismiss the previous exercises and focus solely on what’s ahead.

Assessment Centre Tips – 10 – Practise, Practise, Practise

Give yourself the very best chance to succeed. We strongly recommend that you practise the psychometric tests and aptitude tests that you will be faced with.

Remember to practise answering interview questions – do this out loud. Yes, out loud! Ask a friend to help, by getting them to ask the questions. Practise will give you confidence and keep nerves at bay AND boost your chances of success.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these and found them useful?

Thanks for reading!

Thanks for reading these assessment centre tips – You can find many, many more assessment centre tips all over our site. We’d urge you to have a good look around the site. We wish you every success! 🙂

Turbocharge your employability NOW

Get your copy of our Ultimate Assessment Day & Interview Guide here. It's packed with tips, tricks and insider-secrets to help you succeed.

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This Teach First Assessment Centre guide will tell you what to expect and show you how to succeed, in clear detail, step-by-step.

A useful starting-point resource

  1. Get hold of Teach First interview questions preparation tools here and practice tests here.

Download our Ultimate Assessment Day & Interview Guide 2021 here. (It's packed with tips, tricks and insider-secrets to help you succeed.)


Ok, let’s get stuck in!

teach-first-assessment-centre

Teach First Assessment Centre – Core Competencies

In a moment we’ll drill into the detail of the Teach First Assessment Centre itself, but first we need to address something fundamental.

  • The Teach First Assessment Centre uses a “competency-based assessment process”, which is a fancy way of saying that there is a checklist that successful candidates must satisfy.
  • Your first step in preparing for the Teach First Assessment Centre should be to learn these competencies inside out.
  • Every part of your assessment will built around them, so it’s essential to have an in-depth understanding and to immerse yourself in this language.

(Sure, you will have covered these within your online application form but they’re even more important at the Teach First Assessment Centre itself!)

teach-first-assessment-centre

The 8 Competencies

Here’s a reminder of the eight essential competencies that the Teach First Assessment Centre is designed to evaluate – seek to demonstrate these at every opportunity (an easy way to do this is to reflect this language back at the assessors):

  • Humility, Respect, and Empathy – Are you able to build relationships with a variety of people? Can you find common ground and build effective relationships quickly? Can you help people achieve and remain respectful?
  • Interaction – Can you work as part of a team? Are you able to communicate with clarity? Are you a good listener? Can you communicate effectively and appropriately, according to the situation?
  • Knowledge – Have you done your homework on Teach First? Do you know their ethos and mission? Do you have a good understanding of the Leadership Development Programme? Are you passionate and ready to make an impact?
  • Leadership -Are you able to take control of a situation? Do you use your initiative as well as your knowledge? Can you remain proactive under pressure, in order to achieve? Can you take the lead?
  • Planning and Organising – Can you manage and prioritize your workload? Can you work to a deadline? Are you able to keep your work to a high standard and stay efficient?
  • Problem Solving – Are you innovative? Can you handle fresh challenges? Can you deal with problems in an appropriate fashion and find solutions? Are you creative enough to find a new way to deal with a problem?
  • Resilience – Do you have tenacity? Can you stay positive under pressure? Are you patient? Can you persevere when things get tough?
  • Self-evaluation – Do you know your weaknesses as well as your strengths? Are your goals realistic and do you have an insight in how to achieve them? Do you understand the importance of self-evaluation?

Ok, let’s look at how you’ll spend your day at the Teach First Assessment Centre.

Teach First Assessment Centre Guide – Overview of the day

The day will be mapped out in a way that assesses all of your skills and knowledge, using the eight competencies as an overarching framework.

This is what you should expect on the day:

  • A sample teaching lesson and self-evaluation.
  • A case study and self-evaluation.
  • A competency-based interview.

Let’s take a look at each element in more detail.

teach-first-assessment-centre

Teach First Assessment Centre – The Sample Teaching Lesson

Just like any part of an assessment, preparation is essential. For this part of the assessment, you will be emailed details of your lesson topic, a week before.

  • Your lesson must be prepared in this time, so iron out exactly what and how you are going to teach.
  • You can find ideas and templates for your sample lessons at the Teach First Assessment Centre here and here.
  • Your lesson will be 7 minutes in total and in this time you need to show that you can clearly communicate the topic to your pupils, in a creative, engaging way.

Be prepared to show that you are able to control your class. There could be unruly children (assessors) who want to see how you handle the disruption!

After your lesson, you will be asked to evaluate it. This will be a written evaluation and needs to be structured in such a way that honestly challenges your performance, but of course, this is also a great opportunity to highlight the depth of your teaching knowledge and -especially if the lesson didn’t go well- what could be improved upon.

Teach First Assessment Centre – Case Study and Self Evaluation

This is a group exercise and for many people it’s the least favourite part of the Teach First Assessment Centre. It will test your problem solving skills, your thought processes, your ability to express yourself and interact with the rest of the group.

  • We’ve written an extensive guide covering this, so go and check out our Group Exercise Success Guide.
  • Once the group work is completed, you will be invited to discuss and evaluate how the group worked together, along with your own role within that group.
  • This discussion will be one-to-one with an assessor. Remember that the evaluation of the group exercise is as important as the group work itself, so don’t let your guard down here.
  • This is a good chance to leave a favourable impression.

This article will give you some basic ideas of the questions you should pose.

teach-first-assessment-centre

Teach First Assessment Centre – The Competency-based interview

Ok, now the fun really starts!

Firstly, you should check out our the interview success area of the site – there’s TONS of resources there that will help you during this part of the Teach First Assessment Centre.

Secondly, you can get hold of Teach First interview questions preparation tools here and practice tests here.

This interview will be one-to-one with an assessor and will last for 30 minutes. This is where your knowledge of the competencies will become vital.

(We really cannot reiterate enough the importance of understanding and using them to your advantage.)

Take your interview by the horns and don’t let go!

  • Show the Assessor that you know all about Teach First. Talk about the vision and mission. Prove that you know all about the job you’re applying for.
  • Review your original application form to remind yourself of what you wrote and the examples you gave. (This is a great way to have something to fall back to during awkward moments when you’re not sure what to say next.)
  • Give examples from your experience that show the competencies outlined earlier. Do not just use the ones from your original application. Take a look at the competencies and think about your other experiences, in relation to them. This is hard, so practise it beforehand. Prepare 3 examples for each competency and rehearse explaining them aloud.
  • Convince the assessor that they want you! Tell them why you should be on the programme and what you can bring. You must sell yourself. The competition at the Teach First Assessment Centre is stiff, so don’t be modest!
  • If you are asked if you have any questions… Have some! It will highlight your enthusiasm and passion for the programme. Trust us, it reflects poorly on you if you have no questions. (This Guardian article has a good list of questions you can ask.)
  • If you don’t understand a particular question, ask the assessor to repeat it or explain it more fully. Don’t be shy in seeking clarification.
  • Practice the interview scenario with your partner, mum, dad, goldfish etc. Get someone to help you by asking the questions. Rehearse your key messages and sentences. Practice aloud. Practice aloud. We know you feel silly doing it but practice aloud.

teach-first-assessment-centre

Teach First Sample Interview Questions

Here’s a few that are bound to show up during your Teach First Assessment Centre interview:

  • How have you responded to a situation in which your authority was challenged?
  • When have you come up with an innovative solution for a problem?
  • When have you had to show leadership qualities?
  • How have you dealt with failure?
  • How have you tackled a problem creatively?

A useful resource

teach-first-Assessment-Centre

Teach First Assessment Centre – Offer Of Employment & Tests

After you ace the interview, you will be offered employment with Teach First. But this offer will be dependent on your completion of the Professional Skills Tests.

These tests are mandatory for any prospective teacher, who wishes to enrol on a teacher training course. They are provided by Learn Direct and you will sit the tests at one of their centres. These skills tests will include:

  • Teach First Numeracy Test – Numerical reasoning and mathematics questions will be used to measure your numeracy skills. This test is broken down into mental arithmetic and written, ‘on screen’ questions. The mental arithmetic questions will be supplied to you via headphones. Calculators will not be permitted but handwritten calculations are acceptable. The second part of the test is computer based and you will have an ‘on screen’ calculator to aid you. You will have 48 minutes to complete both sections.

We’ve written in-depth success guides for numerical tests. You can find our numerical reasoning success guide (including practice tests) here.

  • Teach First Literacy test – Your spelling, grammar, punctuation and comprehension will be tested, in order to assess your literacy skills. The spelling test must be completed first but you can then complete the other three areas in any order. You will need to wear the headphones provided for the spelling test. All other sections will be computer based. You will have 45 minutes to complete all sections.

We’ve written in-depth success guides for verbal reasoning tests. You can find our verbal reasoning success guide (including practice tests) here.

Preparing for your Teach First Professional Skill Tests

The minimum pass requirement for both tests is 60%, so it is vital that you know what to expect. You can probably guess what we are going to advise here: Practice!

Thanks for reading!

We hope you have found our guide useful? We hope you feel better prepared and have a clear understanding of what you can do to maximise your chances of success at the Teach First Assessment Centre. Preparation is the key to both confidence and success, so please avail yourself of the resources we’ve shared with you here. Good luck! 🙂

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Prison Officer Assessment Day Success Guide

The Prison Officer Assessment Day is a notoriously difficult recruitment assessment day event, but this success guide will tell you what to expect and how to succeed on the day to become a prison officer.

3 important points before we begin

  • Before you’re invited to attend the prison officer assessment day you have to pass the Prison Officer Selection Test (POST). Practice the POST test here.

Download our Ultimate Assessment Day & Interview Guide 2021 here. (It's packed with tips, tricks and insider-secrets to help you succeed.)


Prison Officer Assessment Day Overview

Your Prison Officer Assessment Day will be made up of the following:

      • Role play
      • A POST verification test
      • A POST language test
      • A medical examination
      • A fitness test.

It is a mandatory requirement for successful candidates that all aspects of the Prison Officer Assessment Day are passed.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at each requirement in more detail.

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Prison Officer Assessment Day Role Plays

Role plays are a very effective way of assessing the skills you possess; your strengths and weaknesses both intellectually and from an inter-personal point of view.

The Prison Officer role plays can be a very daunting prospect but there are plenty of techniques you can use to boost your chances of success.

Two quick resources that will help you

  • There’s a whole section of this site dedicated to exploring role play techniques, but the best place to start is our role play success guide.
  • If you think you need some nerve busting or confidence tips, click here.

Assessment Areas

You’ve chosen a career path that is varied and challenging, so your role play is very broad ranging in nature. The assessors will primarly be looking at how you interact and communicate with others. These are the interpersonal skills that will be assessed:

  • Assertion – Can you handle pressure without showing aggression? Can you look to resolve conflict without backing down on your position? Can you show respect as well as authority?
  • Understanding – Are you able to empathise with others? Are you able to show sympathy when a problem may arise? Do you truly listen?
  • Respecting those around you – Are you able to treat people with dignity? Can you be respectful to people of different cultures and backgrounds? Can you appropriately deal with discrimination?
  • Non‐verbal communication – Body language is important. Are you able to use positive non-verbal communication? An example is open hand gestures, whilst talking. It implies honesty and openness. Do you maintain eye contact? Avoid folded arms! This creates a barrier between you and your assessor and is seen as a very negative gesture.
  • Questioning and Clarification – Are you able to investigate and ask questions, in order to solve a problem? Can you clarify that you understand the issue?
  • Integrity – Do you believe in doing the right thing? Will you report unreasonable behaviour?
  • Suspending Judgement – Are you able to listen without interrupting? Are you able to comprehend the whole situation before deciding on the best course of action?

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Stop worrying! Download a 12-step assessment day cheatsheet & be perfectly prepared.

Click here to download your copy

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The role play format

You will role play with a recording – completing 5 in total, with the assessors analysing your responses. Each role play lasts for 10 minutes and you will have ten minutes beforehand to read through the profiles for each role play scenario.

All role-play scenarios will be based on situations that could arise when carrying out your job but they will not necessarily become a Prison Officer-based role play.

At least one role play will analyse your suitability for working with young people.

Prison Officer Role play Video

This is a helpful video from NOMS:

Prison Officer POST Verification Test

You have to pass the Prison Officer Selection Test to be invited to the Prison Officer Assessment Day, but you must take another POST test at the assessment day. (This is to validate that you are the candidate who took the original test!)

This POST test is shorter in length, at just twenty minutes long, but it is more difficult than the original POST test.

We can’t stress this strongly enough: You MUST practice for this POST test to fully prepare yourself; nothing will boost your chances of success more than practicing, identifying your weak points and improving on them.

You can practice the numerical element of the Prison Officer Selection Test (POST) here.

Prison Officer Selection Test – Language Test

Here you will be assessed on your reading, writing and form filling skills. The test is 45 minutes long and has 2 sections:

  • Section 1 – You will be asked to fill in a form by extracting the required information from a detailed brief or piece of writing.
  • Section 2 – You will be asked to analyse information, to check that it fulfils a set of criteria supplied.

This test assesses all aspects of your verbal reasoning ability.

You can get hold of a similar verbal reasoning test here and you can read our free verbal reasoning success guide here.

The Prison Officer Assessment Day Medical

The role of Prison Officer requires you to be fit and healthy, so the medical examination plays a pivotal part in the application process.

The assessment criteria for the medical is as follows:

  • You will be required to complete a health questionnaire, which will be analysed by a Nursing Practitioner. The questionnaire will explore your overall health and any existing conditions.
  • Your weight and height will be taken and your BMI calculated.
  • You will have an Eye Test. You must be able to meet a minimum of standard eyesight in both eyes. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, these can be worn, so don’t forget them!
  • Your blood pressure will be checked. If your blood pressure is higher than 170/80, it will be taken again. If after the second check, it still remains high, you will not be permitted to take part in the fitness test.

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The Prison Officer Assessment Day Fitness Test

You’ve chosen a career that requires you to have a good standard of fitness, so if you feel you’re lacking in this department, it is time to break out a sweat!

Luckily, fitness is something that can be improved upon and you are making the first step in the preparation by understanding what will be required of you.

The following fitness tests will be carried out:

  • Bleep Test – This is running between a set of points in a given time period (Or bleeps). The bleeps will speed up as the levels of the test progress. To practise for this test, aim to be jogging for around twenty minutes and completing a distance of at least 1.5 miles.
  • Obstacle course – This is misleading as the only obstacles you will have to endure are a series of plastic cones but they must be completed in 34 seconds. Your jogging practise for the bleep test will more than cover any practise required here.
  • Riot Shield Test – You need to able to hold a 7kg shield in front of you, with one leg in front of the other, for one continuous minute. Any exercise that will strengthen your arms and upper body will be a good practise.
  • Grip Test – Your grip will be tested by a piece of equipment that measures kilograms by force. You need to reach at least 25kg.
  • Push and Pull Resistance Test – This will test your strength by measuring the force of kilogrammes when you push/pull against the equipment provided. The minimum requirement is 35kg.

All of the above tasks will be explained and/or demonstrated several times before you begin. Remember to bring your sport kit and shower kit with you.

Completing the Prison Officer Assessment Day

If you pass all of the requirements on the day, you will then be able to apply for any current vacancies. (You can find more info here and here.)

It is at this stage you will be required to attend an interview and have further background and criminal record checks.

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Prep resources quick-list

Good luck!

We hope you found this free guide useful? Good luck at your Prison Officer Assessment Day!

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Get your copy of our Ultimate Assessment Day & Interview Guide here. It's packed with tips, tricks and insider-secrets to help you succeed.

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Logical reasoning tests are arguably the toughest form of aptitude test. Use this guide to learn expert tips and try a few logical reasoning practice test.

3 useful starting-point resources

  • Read our other aptitude test success guides here. (Numerical, verbal etc.)

Download our Ultimate Assessment Day & Interview Guide 2021 here. (It's packed with tips, tricks and insider-secrets to help you succeed.)

What is a logical reasoning test?

This test is a form of psychometric testing that is widely used by corporate employers to help assess candidates during their recruitment process.

‘Psychometric’ is just a fancy way of saying ‘measuring mental ability’ and logical reasoning tests are designed to measure your non-verbal skills. We’ll cover this in more detail later.

Sounds a little intimidating? Don’t worry, we’re going to tell you how to prepare. We’ve assessed candidates using this technique (and we’ve also faced logical reasoning tests as a candidates), so we’re well aware of the feelings of apprehension you probably have…! Let’s continue.

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Logical Reasoning Test: What’s included?

Logical reasoning tests mostly feature non-verbal content, requiring candidates to interpret and manipulate shapes, numbers and patterns.

Sometimes reasoning tests are given a more specific name to reflect a more targetted skillset. Such as: ‘inductive reasoning‘, ‘diagrammatic reasoning‘ and ‘abstract reasoning‘. The terminology differs between the various tests, but the overall principle is the same.

As with most areas of psychometric testing there’s plenty of overlap in the areas of assessment, but the ultimate goal is the same: to get a well-rounded view of candidates’ mental capacity.

Logical Reasoning Test: Example Questions

Here’s two example questions from a typical logical reasoning test:

logical-reasoning-test-example

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Want more practice questions?

Click here to download a worksheet with practice logical reasoning questions.

logical reasoning test

Logical Reasoning Test – simple steps to success

Ok let’s get into the detail. How do we pass a logical reasoning test?

Logical Reasoning Test – video guide

This video guide from Ben Williams will show you what to expect in more detail. Go and grab a cup of tea, a pen and some notepaper and settle down to watch the video – be sure to make some notes, you will be grateful you did!

Logical Reasoning Practice Tests

Nothing will enhance your chances of success during your logical reasoning test more than familiarity with the content, structure and timing of the test. Practise makes perfect.

We always recommend these logical reasoning practice tests because they are supplier-specific and contain very clear explanations.

(Most of the time, the hardest part of the reasoning tests is simply figuring out what variables are even in play. The tests above do a great job of making this clear.)

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Stop worrying! Download a 12-step assessment day cheatsheet & be perfectly prepared.

Click here to download your copy

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Remember: Logical Reasoning Tests Are Not All Created Equally!

The key to preparing for your logical reasoning test is to practise tests from the correct supplier.

Find out who created the tests you will take by asking the employer or agency. Is it SHL, Kenexa, Saville or Talent Q?

This matters, so don’t feel pushy or demanding for requesting this information, it’s a very reasonable question to pose.

Check your prospective employer’s site for guidance

People often go straight to careers sites for advice, but there’s some great tips to be found on employers’ websites too (like this from the PwC website), so make sure you check your prospective employer’s site for any extra guidance and insight.

Logical-reasoning-test

A useful tool with ‘must-read’ advice

Download a 4-step abstract reasoning cheatsheet by clicking here.

More articles that will help you

We hope you enjoyed this free guide and wish you the best of luck in your logical reasoning test.

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Get your copy of our Ultimate Assessment Day & Interview Guide here. It's packed with tips, tricks and insider-secrets to help you succeed.

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