In ten hours, I am going to willingly subject myself to the Ultimate Humiliation. The biggest threat to esteem and self-worth. The one and only thing that could drive me to drink.
I am going…to a job assessment centre.
Now this is actually the second time I am attending this ‘selection event’ from the same supermarket company. The first time I went months ago, I was suffering from a high fever so I probably didn’t leave a very good impression.
Bits of that frantic day are sketchy, but what I do recall is the sweat of desperation in the air as I walked into a waiting room full of nervous strangers as eager as me to get this job. I had the odd but distinct impression that if a manager were to line us up in a tunnel and announced that the job would go to whoever reached him first, things would swiftly get bloody. Starving hyenas after the last gnawed bone came to mind. My fevered mind, at least.
I also vaguely recall entering a cold room, listening to the recruitment speech and having five minutes to interview your neighbour and present the answers (or in my case, babble my answers) in front of the group. Memories of watching the bright and chirpy recruitment video, of getting up and telling people why I Absolutely Adore shopping in this supermarket and would Love to Work for the company. In point of fact, I actually did enjoy patronising the supermarket. What I didn’t appreciate was having to tell a group of strangers why I think their company was the best thing since
sliced bread pickles.
Why do I want this job? Because I need to eat and survive and pay my bills, damnit!
Maybe I’m going about this the wrong way. Maybe I just need to chalk this up as experience, the salt of life. Granted that Rosie, my landlady, gasped aloud and expressed much sympathy after I told her I was going to an assessment centre, I found myself approaching this second time around with a kind of nonchalance.
I know what’s expected. Now I needed to look up what those assessors lurking in the background wanted.
One website advises when presenting: “Using notes but not working from a script; maintaining eye contact with your audience; using visual aids and handouts where appropriate, and ensuring that both the introduction and conclusion of your presentation are strong and effective.”
“Do your best to relax and enjoy the Assessment Centre as much as you can, whilst remembering that you may be under observation at all times, even in seemingly informal situations. Try to be yourself at all times and show the employer that you have confidence in yourself and in your ability to perform the job for which you are applying.”
Relax, you’re being watched, be yourself, be confident – I might be wrong, but I’m sensing mixed messages here.
Another website tells you to of course research the company and the job, and has interesting insight into the presentation bit. The short notice tests how you cope under stress, think on your feet, put clarity and structure into your piece. “Make concise notes but don’t read from a script or lose eye contact with your audience. Remember to stick to the time limit and watch out for ‘ums’, ‘ahs’ and dodgy body language.”
More tips: “Try to think through the qualities the assessors will be looking for: leadership, interpersonal skills, ability to handle stress, verbal communication, written communication, flexibility, negotiation skills, problemsolving, business skills, commercial acumen, decisiontaking, initiative and creativity. Clearly the weightings will change depending on the job, but commercial acumen, interpersonal skills and flexibility are high on everyone’s list.”
And finally: “Get as much sleep as you can beforehand”.
*Eyes the clock at 4.10am*
Hmmm. Well that’s screwed.