Family & Work

How to stand out at group assessments

What’s the most effective way of selecting the right employee to join your team when you’ve been inundated with great applications? If this is a question you’ve ever asked yourself, chances are you’ve mulled over the merits of the group assessment day. And, if you’re seeking employment, chances are you’ll be facing a group interview sometime soon.

Group assessment days are becoming a popular alternative for employers who need to interview multiple candidates and want to make the most of the hours available to dedicate to recruitment. They allow the assessor to focus on group interaction, the individuals’ ability to lead and show initiative, and how they would practically fit into the workplace.

Whilst there might be a temptation to treat such days as an informal assessment, it is worth noting that it is just as important to impress at these events as it is in a one-on-one interview, and all the more important to stand out. So, what can you do to ensure you make the right impression?

1 Relax and be yourself

When you’re being observed it’s natural to feel a little uneasy, but try your best to be yourself. Letting your personality shine through is an important aspect of any assessment. Don’t do yourself an injustice by appearing rigid and unapproachable through nerves.

2 Be positive

A positive and proactive approach is non-negotiable. You’re likely to be thrown into an unusual group exercise and it’s important you get involved. It’s a given but being negative about the task and not contributing are always viewed rather dimly.

1 Know the assessment criteria

Wherever your assessment takes place there will always be a set criteria which you are being marked against. If you don’t know what the criteria is make sure you ask. It’s best to do your research in advance rather than falling short on the day.

2 Time keeping

It is likely any set task you do will be under timed conditions. Be sure to read and understand the instructions fully before starting and then manage your time, working out how long you anticipate you’ll need to complete each section. Common failings in assessments are usually down to the candidate running out of time on the set exercises.

3 Network

Talk to the other candidates and think of them as your team mates for the day. You’ll probably be working together at some point during the assessment and even beyond the assessment day itself the other candidates can be a source of useful information and provide a great support network.

4 Be Professional

Treat the assessment event in much the same way as your would approach an interview, consider what you are going to wear on the day and how you will present yourself.

5 Focus on the task in hand

Don’t become preoccupied if you haven’t performed well on one task, there will typically be multiple tasks to complete and you will be assessed on your overall performance. Make sure you put your full focus into each task independently of the others to get the best results.

Keep these tips in mind for your next assessment day, and you’ll give yourself the best chance of success. And, if you’re attending an Obelisk Support assessment day, remember we like our lawyers to be H.A.P.P.I.E.R – that’s Helpful, Authentic, Professional, Positive, Innovative, Elastic and Responsive.

Family & Work

How to Secure Meetings and Interviews Over the Phone

You may be looking to refresh or expand your team and an efficient way of narrowing down a large pile of CVs is an initial call with the candidates. Or perhaps you are facing a telephone interview as part of changing jobs? The telephone interview remains a staple of many recruiters’ process. It’s therefore becoming more and more important for those seeking work or looking for a new team member to get to grips with this way of recruitment.

What makes a great telephone interview? You may actually find that the telephone interview can be more of a challenge, requiring extra preparation and focus, than a face to face situation. If done well, the interview will feel more like a constructive chat. But, for an interviewee, getting the balance between saying too little and giving away too much can be difficult. For example, it may be harder to identify a natural break or end to a conversation. And for the interviewer, not having the face to face contact nor the ability to read the person’s body language can make it harder to evaluate what the person is like.

For many years the face to face interview has been a mainstay of recruitment. However, in today’s world, with most companies operating globally, along with increasing pressures to recruit faster and more efficiently it is not always possible to meet in person. Like many things in life, these processes have moved on and we are now often asked to participate in all manner of recruitment activities such as video-linked calls, psychometric tests and group assessment centres, as well as multiple interviews and visits to the office.

Here are 5 tips on great telephone interviews for interviewees:

  1. Keep your preparation notes near you: One of the benefits of the phone interview is that your preparation can be right in front of you. You can have your CV, your questions and other notes ready to refer to so you don’t miss out any key information you want to highlight during the discussion. Perfect for those of us who have left an interview only to remember all of the things we should have said but also for those who recruit as they can make notes and pick up on questions they may otherwise miss.
  2. Watch your language: think about how you come across on the phone. It is difficult to read body language on the phone; so it is making a judgment from what you say, how you say it, and the tone of your voice.
  3. Don’t leave your research to last minute inspiration: as with any interview, prepare well in advance, do your research before – not as you are on the call!
  4. Keep it quiet: ensure that you made the necessary arrangements to take the call in a place where you are unlikely to be interrupted.
  5. Manners matter: Although you can’t shake hands at the end of the discussion, ensure you finish the call as politely and professionally as it started to give you the best chance of success at whatever stage you are in during the recruitment process.

So, a great telephone interview is much like a great face-to-face interview, but with some vital tweaks. Nail these and you will give yourself the best possible chance of moving to the next stage in the recruitment process whether you are a candidate or an employer.

Family & Work

Draw your boundaries – and stick to them

We all should take responsibility for valuing our own boundaries enough to never feel wrong for sticking to them – and for expecting others to respect them too.

For example, have you ever agreed something with a colleague, only for the other person to develop a bad case of amnesia just five minutes later?

You know the kind of thing I’m talking about – you agree shorter working hours around your family commitments and, when you try to leave work at 3pm, it’s to a chorus of the (oh so funny, it just never gets old) “thanks for popping in”, or when you have worked hard all day and stand up to leave on time, you get the feeling that your timely departure has undermined the good work you have done that day.

It’s frustrating to know that when you have done a good job and are delivering what’s expected of you (and often over and above) somehow, it’s you that leaves the office feeling as though you have perhaps done something wrong. Despite proclamations to the opposite effect, a culture of presenteeism still permeates many professions. But, have you ever considered what you have done to challenge this?

Or, do you suffer in silence, go home and moan to your loved ones? Maybe you spend your time at work thinking that if only you could just juggle your commitments even more precariously to stretch your day a little bit more, you could more easily demonstrate your willingness and commitment, and then your problem would go away?

If you answered yes to any of the above then I say you are Wrong – yes that’s wrong with a capital W! Truly, who is going to benefit from that strategy in the long term – you, your boss, your colleagues, your family? Nope, none of you I’m afraid.

Change, and in particular a change of attitude, doesn’t happen overnight. The culture of presenteeism is deeply embedded in our working culture. Unless you have extremely forward thinking colleagues, often you will have to go through a period of ‘training’ the other party: think about when you want to get your pet or small child to start doing or understanding something. Lip service just isn’t enough. You know that there may be a period of standing your ground and reinforcing, but that the benefits will outweigh any initial pain or effort on your part.

So may I suggest that, going forward, you just let go of all the unproductive feelings and instead use your energy to have the confidence to just smile and stick to your agreements until they become the norm to those around you. Really, we all should take responsibility for valuing our own boundaries enough to never feel wrong for sticking to them – and for expecting others to respect them too.

Remember, if someone isn’t happy with you, the onus is on them to bring it to your attention in an open, direct and appropriate manner. And, in all likelihood, most reasonable people would not be unhappy with you as long as you are sticking to your arrangements. Instead, try acting on the basis that they just need your support in accepting change, sticking to agreements and behaving in the right way – so that when you do finish your working day, it ends with a feeling of mutual appreciation for the hard work you have done and for their acceptance of your need for work/life balance.