How To Prepare For Virtual Assessment Centres

Artissima | Torino 2016 |

Even before Covid 19 many companies had started to move their assessment centres (ACs) online.  Due to the current pandemic this trend has accelerated in the past few weeks and may continue for the foreseeable future.

Cardiff Metropolitan University Careers Service sent us these great tips on preparing for VACs from EY and a recruitment company who host assessment centres.

EY state their AC  is currently virtual and similar to the physical format:

‘We moved to virtual assessment centres over a month ago now and have been improving the experience ever since, generally it runs the same as an in-person event, candidates will join us in the morning for a welcome speech from a partner and an overview of their day.

Once the speech is over they’re asked to sit a numerical reasoning test, then they’re given access to our assessment portal, impact.

On impact they will have their timetable for the day along with links to each of their assessors, their time slot will be 90 minutes and will cover two out of three of the same assessments they would experience in person. At this point some candidates may have a slot that is in a couple of hours’ time and therefore will be asked to return at that time.’

Q and As from a recruitment company  hosting virtual ACs (VACs):

How are VACs run?

Numbers range from 4 –45 candidates.

No dedicated VAC technology however Zoom is used for small groups and breakout rooms are utilised.

Google Hangouts used with bigger groups.

What preparation is given?

An information pack is sent in advance which needs to be read and understood.

A bespoke schedule for every company is designed with links to every part of the day provided ahead of the AC.

Can you share a typical VAC?

A VAC starts with a presentation outlining the business, an overview of the day, tasks both individual and group), and a partner meeting or pitch.

Unfortunately it isn’t possible to share an actual VAC ‘diary’ due to NDAs with clients.

Are group exercises working?

After some intial issues these are now working successfully, in one example the group were tasked to design a shop floor.

Work is done to test the right competencies by re-purposing traditional AC tasks and inventing new tasks.

What challenges  are students facing?

It can be a positive experience for a candidate as long as the technology works. They report feeling less flustered, there is less waiting around or having to face a difficult commute.

Some employers report a 100% acceptance rate from candidates and believe this is could be partly due to the positive experience of the VAC.

What adjustments are employers making for students with reported disabilities?

For learning disabilities extra time is allocated (c25%).

What about visual and hearing impairments?

The tasks for the VAC can be offered with any reasonable adjustments as needed. Applicants need to discuss in advance what they might need.

Top tips for success

Prepare well  in advance.

Check you have the correct links and if possible see if they work before the session starts.

Make sure you know exactly what the day involves and how much time you need to set aside.

Let your housemates/family know you will be busy all day and if possible put a sign on the door saying ‘Busy’ or ‘On air’.

If you are to be visible ‘on screen’ then dress as you would for any interview situation and make sure the background is appropriate, you can blur or add a background if needed. Try this out in advance of the session.

Smile, relax, and try to be yourself

Here are some resources to help with preparation:

Sanctuary Graduates -How to Succeed in an Interview and Virtual Assessment Centre Amidst Coronavirus

Bright Network –How to stand out at a Digital Assessment CentrePlatforms

Aon –Paperless Assessment Centres

Hire Vue –Video Interview Software –Careers Service Experience

And our website has details of assessement centres with links to practice psychometric tests

You can at any stage come and talk to us about any career related issue, including preparation for virtual assessment centres.


careersemployabilityemployabillity skillsemployersemploymentgraduateinterviewsjobsrecruitmenttransferable skills

Pamela Coppola • 14/05/2020

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