The online assessment centre

If you are applying for a position with a large organisation and a large volume of applicants you may find that an online assessment centre is part of the selection process. Here in the UK I have noticed they are particularly common for positions in large public sector organisations. Is this because the potentially prohibitive costs of setting up and administering the assessment is no concern when its paid for with public money? Perhaps. However there are other more practical reasons, described below.

Separate wheat from chaff

The organisations who tend to use online assessments typically receive high volumes of applications. As government organisations everything must be seen to be above board, and fair. One way to achieve this is to attempt to standardise the selection process. Consequently they tend to have a very rigid process, usually with an application form, rather than a CV. An online assessment serves as a useful way to judge someone without well, judging them. You can’t argue with the numbers after all.

Natural wastage/saves time and money

The online assessment is usually stage two, coming after the initial stage of sending in application forms. As I said the initial number of applications is usually very high for these roles which presents the employer with a problem. However the online assessment centre serves as a great screening tool. Firstly because a large volume of people wont bother to actually sit the test!! I’ve never been able to understand why this is, but its true. Secondly, a significant proportion of applicants will not be able to complete the test, or will perform so badly that they can be ruled out immediately. All fair and transparent, application over.

Thus the online assessment centre is very effective at achieving the aims of the screening process, saving time, money, and reducing the many to the few……..and all this can be achieved before a word is even read.

What is involved?

You will typically find it is a psychometric test, with the emphasis on the ability and aptitude testing elements explored through multiple choice questions (multiple choice ensures a standardized response, saving time and money, can you see the theme here?) perhaps based on a case study. You will of course have a time limit to complete the test in.

How do they fit into the wider interview process?

Since the online assessment centre comes BEFORE the interview it is crucial. It is probably sae to assume no one has actually looked at your job application yet, and will not do so, until a positive test score has come in. This stage of the process is most definitely a big deal.

Tips for the online assessment centre

Grab the bull by the horns

don’t wait until the night before the deadline after a hard day at work, when you’re tired and would rather veg out watching your favourite TV show . Take it before the pressure kick in, at a time of day when your mental clarity is greatest. If you are actually interested in the position shouldn’t you give yourself the best chance to excel? Make your priorities a priority.

Know your role

Be aware of the competencies required and spend time considering the message u want to send before you sit the test

Keep your eyes on the clock

Make sure you allocate your time so you have the best chance of answering all the questions

Have a calculator

There are bound to be some sums involved, be ready

Be ready to print pages

You may find it easier to have a hard copy of any materials in front of you

Be positive

even as you work ur competition is ruling itself out.

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