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Mastering the Co-op Recruitment Assessment: Essential Preparation Guide

Is it your ambition to work for one of the largest consumer co-operatives in the UK? If it is, then you have to be prepared for a gruelling recruitment process and a great deal of competition for your coveted job. 

Founded in 1844, Co-op is a leading employer and advertises open positions at many levels on the career scale. However, like many successful businesses, Co-op puts a lot of emphasis on employing the right people for their business. For that reason, they have a gruelling recruitment process beginning with pre-employment testing.

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What Is the Co-op Application Process?

You can apply to Co-op as an experienced hire or even as a first-time job seeker. 

  1. Visit their website and set up an account. 
  2. Submit a CV which may be reviewed before beginning the process. 
  3. Complete one or perhaps two short online assessments at this point.
  4. Log in and apply for open positions. 

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What Is the Co-op Recruitment Process?

Progressing further in the Co-op recruitment process will depend on how happy the company are both with your application and your performance in the online assessments.

If accepted at this point, you will have to do the following:

  • Phone or video interviews
  • Face-to-face interviews
  • Assessment centre tests and/or interviews

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What Does Co-op Look for in Candidates?

When you apply for a job, the system will require you to illustrate how well your motivations, behaviour and value systems match the Co-op culture. You need to prepare for the assessments, but you also need to find out as much as you can about Co-op’s value systems in advance. 

A visit to their website will help with this. Co-op’s main values are:

  • Self-help
  • Self-responsibility
  • Democracy
  • Equality
  • Equity
  • Solidarity

You will find that the Co-op values diversity and inclusion and is passionate about social issues and about the role it plays in the community. The co-op needs to know that its employees share those values.

For example, if you apply for a job in retail or in the Funeralcare section of the business, you will have to complete an assessment developed in conjunction with Co-op colleagues. This will have to be submitted as part of your job application.

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What Are the Co-op Online Assessments?

As you can see, getting a job at Co-op is a demanding process. Candidates must take online assessments to measure their aptitudes and skills. 

However, with adequate preparation, you can do it. And the time to begin is before you apply for a job. You have to ace those initial assessments before you can progress further in the recruitment process. Proving yourself in the assessments will see you called for interviews and perhaps even further testing.

How Do I Prepare for the Co-op Test?

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The most advisable course of action when preparing for pre-employment testing is to use the services of a job test preparation company. For this, we recommend Job Test Prep, a company with thirty years of experience in preparing candidates for pre-employment testing.

They will provide you with a test prep pack containing all the information you need about the recruitment process as well as:

  • Sample test papers modelled on the real tests
  • A scoring system to track your progress as you do the papers
  • Detailed information on questions and answers
  • Helpful interview preparation advice

To get a picture of the type of tests they provide you with, try the following free sample personality test.

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What Assessments Will I Have to Do?

The assessments you have to do will depend on the position you applied for. You may have to do some or all of the following:

  • Numerical Reasoning Tests. In this section, you can expect to find yourself dealing with graphs and tables in order to solve arithmetical problems. Try the following free sample Numerical Reasoning Test.
  • Verbal Reasoning Tests. This test will assess your ability to answer questions on a written passage. The test checks how capable you are of dealing with written information and may also give an indication of your spelling and grammar skills. Check your own verbal reasoning skills with the following free test.
  • Deductive Reasoning and Inductive Reasoning Tests. The deductive and inductive reasoning tests assess your logical thinking and your decision-making abilities. These tests can be quite challenging.
  • Inductive reasoning tests are used to assess your general intelligence and creativity and to determine how capable you are of learning new material. Try your hand at the following free sample inductive reasoning questions.
  • The deductive reasoning test measures your ability to draw logical conclusions from information you are given. To get a feel for this test, try these free sample deductive reasoning questions.
  • Personality Tests. The personality test, contrary to popular belief, is something you can prepare for. Remember it is your workplace personality that is being tested. When you work on sample questions, you can adjust your answers to suit the values of the company.

Begin your practice with the following question:

Read the statement and tick the answer that best applies to you:

I’m quick to criticise myself when things go wrong

Strongly Disagree/Disagree/Neutral/Agree/Strongly Agree

Try playing with the question. Select each answer in turn, then sit back and decide what picture of your personality the answer gives. Then ask yourself if this type of personality would be a good fit for Co-op’s culture.

Now try the same exercise when doing the following free sample personality test.

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Next Steps

Progressing further in the Co-op recruitment process will depend on how happy the company are both with your application and your performance in the online assessments. When invited to do interviews and further tests, you can congratulate yourself, but there is still work to be done. 

You need to review any information you have gathered about Co-op and about the role you have applied for. Use the interview guides in your test prep pack to find tips on honing your interview skills. 

Phone and Video Interviews

If your application is successful, your next step in the process of applying for a retail role or a role in the Funeralcare division or logistics will be a phone call interview with a Co-op HR representative for further screening.

If your chosen role is in the head office, the legal department or a specialist area, you will be asked to attend a video interview and record your answers to questions. On their website, Co-op states that in the interviews, they like to hear why you applied for the job and why you might be a good fit for the company.

In both interviews, you will get further information about the job you applied for. If you have been successful up to this point, you will be invited to a face-to-face interview.

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Face-to-face Interviews

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Co-op describe their interviews as “Behavioural” and state that you will be asked to give specific examples of how you behaved in situations in past or current work situations. They base their decision on whether or not to hire you on an analysis of your performance at the interview. 

Make sure you have questions about the company at the interview. They see the interview as a two-way “getting to know you” experience and like attendees to ask questions. You need to show you have done your background work in gathering information about the company and the position you are interviewing for.

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Assessment Centre

As well as deciding if you personally are a good fit for the company, Co-op also needs to know if you have the skills and aptitudes for the job. They may ask you to spend a day at an assessment centre doing further testing, group activities and perhaps some interviews.

However, don’t allow the term” Assessment Centre” to fill you with terror. It is usually an indication that you have made very good progress throughout the process to date. You are being given the opportunity to prove yourself further.

The important point to bear in mind when attending an assessment centre is that you are being observed. Throughout the day, behave as you would in the workplace. Exercises you will be asked to do may involve working with other applicants, doing group discussions, and even making presentations. You will be notified of what to expect.

Your task is to show recruiters your teamwork and communication skills and perhaps even leadership abilities.

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Are the Co-op Assessments Hard?

Yes, they are. All pre-employment assessments are challenging, but when preparing to join a high-profile company like Co-op, you can expect rigorous testing. Co-op uses SHL style assessments which are known to be quite difficult and are the company’s way of whittling down the list of job applicants to those who are the best fit for a position.

There are other factors that also add to the difficulty level:

  • The tests are timed
  • Style of questioning may be new to you
  • Co-op are looking for employees who are a good fit for their own unique culture and value system
  • You will be in competition with many other job applicants

The assessments are hard for a number of reasons, the main one being you begin to do assessments immediately after you apply for a job. It is advisable to begin preparing for assessments before you begin applying for jobs.

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Doing Your Preparation

Given the challenges of the recruitment process, you need to take an organised approach to your preparation.

  • Begin your preparation as soon as you possibly can
  • Plan your time carefully. You have a lot of work to do preparing for Co-op tests and interviews. You do not need to be caught in a last-minute scramble to get everything done.
  • When preparing work in short blocks of time. Do 50 minutes preparation followed by 10-minute breaks. You will retain information more easily working like this. Working in long unbroken periods can be counter-productive.
  • Preparing for assessments is stressful. Make sure you get adequate sleep, nutrition and fresh air. Your brain will work better as a result.

Use Your Sample Papers

Making your sample papers the backbone of your preparation will ensure:

  • You are becoming familiar with the assessment format and style of questioning in every preparation session
  • You are working on relevant material at all times
  • You are training yourself to work within the tests’ time limitations
  • You can monitor your progress from test to test

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Doing the Tests and Interviews

Approach the tests and interviews well rested and clear-headed. Avoid any temptation to do late-night preparation marathons. Being able to give your best performance is what will get you the job at this point.

And finally, go in there and give it your best shot. You have worked for this, and you know you deserve it! If your ambition is to work for Co-op, you will find all the resources you need to ace the hiring process here.

Written by Elizabeth O Mahony

With 25+ years’ experience as a teacher and state examinations corrector, Elizabeth now writes for the education and careers industry. Her experience preparing students for examinations and running an academy for supplementary education give her invaluable insights into what it takes for job seekers and graduates to succeed in assessments.

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