Throwback to the Assessment Centre

Posted by: Wendy MacMillan - Posted on:

After helping out at some of the graduate scheme interviews last week, the awkward introductions and nervous glances brought back the memories from my experience of the selection process.

About a year ago I was counting down the days for the dreaded assessment centre. I picked St Patrick’s Day – a deliberate choice as I thought I could do with some Irish luck on the day. With a head full of leadership models, a hungry-but-too-nervous-to-eat stomach and a realisation that I was about to walk into what was essentially a 7 hour interview, I was nervous to say the least.

However, the reality is that from the minute you walk through the door people are rooting for you to succeed. The room is filled with smiles and hellos, with plenty of current trainees on hand pointing you in the right direction and to the nearest tea and coffee making facilities (the essentials of course).

My first impression of the NHS Leadership Academy was really positive. I knew straight away that I truly wanted to work for and with people like them. The process showed me that technically, I was also interviewing them to make a decision about my future career. It was just as important that I could see myself working for the NHS, and in a way, the interview process was the preview I needed. The 7 hours flew by and the day concluded with the decision that I wanted to move 350 miles away from home to be an NHS graduate.

My dad used to say ‘luck is for the unprepared’ and that’s probably true. The Irish luck I thought I had that day likely played no part in my offer of a place on the graduate scheme. So instead of good luck, I say prepare. Prepare to be welcomed into the NHS. Making it to this point in such a competitive process is an achievement in itself and I hope that gives you some confidence to tackle the assessment centre in the coming weeks.

My top tips:

–              Make conversation with the other candidates. Everyone is in the same situation and you may see them again on the scheme later this year.

–              Don’t try to predict what happens beforehand. It never works and will just make you more stressed. Read the brief and put your trust in them. Don’t forget to bring whatever they ask you to as well (ID, degree certificates etc.)

–              If you leave one task thinking it went dreadfully, take a deep breath, smile and move on to the next. Don’t let it affect the rest of your day; it’s unlikely to have as big an impact as you think.

–              Dress code: think professional but remember it’s not a funeral – so don’t be afraid of a bit of colour to brighten up your day.

–              The current graduate trainees aren’t spying on you (I promise); they’re there to keep you relaxed and answer any general questions.

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