The four most common assessment centre activities and how to prepare for them

Roxanne Newson

January 7, 2019

This may sound a little intimidating on paper but don’t fret! We’re here to let you know the kind of things you might be expected to do and the best way to prepare. That way you can arrive on the day feeling equipped, confident and ready to tackle the day head on!

Welcome Presentation

It’s important that we show you what working for Virgin Media is like. When you first arrive, you are likely to be walked through a presentation that goes into detail about the role and the company. We will share more with you about working hours, benefits, team structure and reward and we will make it a fun, interactive session – we won’t just talk at you!

This will also give us the opportunity to conduct a short ice-breaker exercise so that everyone can relax into the day and get to know each other a little.  Don’t worry, ice-breakers aren’t scary and here’s a tip: think about sharing two things about you that are true, as well as one thing that isn’t. You might be asked to share that information and get everyone having fun guessing as to which statement isn’t true!

Once everyone is warmed up and better informed, the actual assessment part of the day will start. Depending on the size of the assessment centre, it’s likely that candidates will be split into different groups and rotated through the exercises. There will be breaks during the assessment centre and there is always someone around if you have any questions. Where possible, you may be taken on a tour of the department – another great way to get a feel for what it’s like to work there.

Group exercise

Why we do them

We devise our group exercises to see how well you work in a team, whether it’s problem solving or discussing an issue and arriving at a conclusion. Regardless of the task, you will need to demonstrate that you are able to communicate your ideas, can analyse information, that you respectfully listen to the suggestions of others and are flexible and supportive.

The kind of group tasks you may be asked to perform can vary depending on the role you’re applying for. You could be asked to plan a company event with the rest of your group, analyse a business problem and arrive at a solution or even create a structure using only stationery.

The best way to prepare

The key thing to remember when preparing for your group exercise is communication. You obviously want to stand out so remember to speak confidently and clearly. Be assertive when you make suggestions but always be aware that this is a group activity, so show your supportive side by listening carefully to the contributions of others. And don’t worry, we’re not looking to trip you up – we’re simply on the lookout for people that work well in groups and can make an impression.

Role play

Why we do them

We use role plays to gain insight into how you are likely to perform the day-to-day tasks involved in your chosen role. If you’re applying for a contact centre position, this may include taking a mock inbound call. Or if you’re a hopeful field technician then you might be asked to complete a mock customer visit interaction.

For more senior roles, you might be given a scenario around managing people or stakeholders. Ultimately the role play gives you a chance to experience a simulation of the role, as well as for us to see how you perform in different situations.

The best way to prepare

The best way to prepare for a role play exercise is to think carefully about the role and how your previous experience can help highlight your suitability. Re-read the job description carefully and familiarise yourself with the key qualities required. This will allow you to more effectively highlight how you will tackle a typical situation with the perfect skill set. Read the role play brief carefully and take notes during the prep time to ensure you don’t miss out anything crucial.

Don’t be afraid to get into character and assume the role. It’s obviously a fictional situation but if you can treat it as seriously as you would a real life task then you will impress your assessor with your dedication.


Why do we do them?

Presentations are an important part of the workplace, so you may be assessed on your ability to present information on a particular topic in a structured and clear way. You will also be given a time limit for your presentation so your ability to be concise and select key information will also be considered.

The best way to prepare

You need to walk into your presentation task feeling confident and well-informed. There’s only one thing for it in this situation: preparation! You will be given a brief before the day so study that carefully. You need to think about the audience – will it be your fellow candidates, your assessors or perhaps a mix? That way you can pitch the tone of your presentation correctly.

Make sure that you carefully craft your presentation to hit all the points made in the brief. Assessors want to see that you can take instructions and deliver exactly what is expected. If you will be using technology – PowerPoint projection for example – make sure you ask if you will have a chance to familiarise yourself with the equipment so you don’t have any embarrassing technical mishaps.


Why we do them

The final stage is typically an interview. This will allow your assessors to get a chance to speak with you one on one to discuss how you feel your experience will help you meet the criteria of your chosen role.

The best way to prepare

You are likely to be asked specific questions based on the CV that you have submitted so your first preparation step is to learn your CV inside out. That way you’ll be able to easily call to mind examples of achievements, responsibilities and strengths when asked.

It’s also always a great idea to study our company values. We like to get an idea as to how well you will fit into the culture at Virgin Media and what motivated you to apply for a position with us. If you can demonstrate how you embody our values you will be off to a great start!  Remember to listen to the questions carefully and don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat the question if required, particularly if it’s in two parts.

We typically ask people to recall how they have acted in difficult situations in the past and what the outcome was – as well as how they would deal with a certain scenarios. It would be helpful to have lots of examples up your sleeve!

It all boils down to good preparation and practice. Follow these tips and you’ll be armed with the knowledge and the confidence to wow your assessors and really show them what you’re made of!

Good luck!

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