Preparing for the ‘Unknown’
Preparing for the ‘Unknown’ is probably a paradox. However it is important to consider this when attending any recruitment event such as an interview or assessment centre.
Recruiters will ask you to respond to questions and tasks that you know the answer to and can prepare for ( the Known), but then they will surprise you with questions and tasks you can’t prepare for (the Unknown).
So you are probably asking why this is the case and then if so, how can I prepare for this?
So firstly why?
If you are applying for a graduate role they will be looking for certain key attributes such as taking charge, being flexible and responding to change quickly. In the role you are hoping to get you are likely to face unexpected situations and have to come up with rapid solutions. So recruiters test this using a task or tasks where you need to use your initiative and problem solving skills on the day without any prior warning ( to think on your feet).
Often the intention as well is to make the selection process as fair as possible. So they try to avoid scenarios that people can be coached for and may be able to gain an unfair advantage beforehand.
So to help with what you might face outlined below are some examples of timed tasks you may be asked to complete: ( they may give you advance notice of the kind of test you will face but that doesn’t always happen).
A written test – perhaps this could involve looking over a range of documents and pulling together a short report to a set word count.
A case study– you might be given an example of a project and you may have to give recommendations or solutions or choose one from a range of options.
A group or individual presentation -again this might be on a subject given to on the day and you may be given access to materials you can use.
An email in tray exercise – again you might be asked to prioritise the tasks you have been given.
So you need to be ready, as far as you can be for the ‘Unknown’ and you need to embrace the challenge and be ready to think on your feet on the day.
Many recruiters will also ask candidates not to divulge to others afterwards what tasks have been given and may change the tasks anyway to avoid people being able to gain any insider knowledge in advance. So the tasks could be closely guarded secrets and the reasons for this have been covered earlier.
It will be your common sense, judgement and ability to think quickly that will be tested.
There are some great examples of all kinds of recruitment tests on our website.
Prospects website also has some excellent examples.
Key advice is to be ready for whatever is given to you on the day.
Don’t feel daunted , you have got this far so the employer is certainly considering you for a role within the company so keep a cool head and respond to the task in hand as well as you possibly can.