Class of 2018: Tips for assessment centres

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This piece was written by Sherry Zhang, who studies MSc Management Consulting at Leeds University Business School.

Last year, I attended an assessment day at one of the ‘The Big Four’ (the four largest professional services companies offering audit, assurance, taxation, consulting, advisory, actuarial, corporate finance and legal services). The single most important thing I learnt from this experience is that if you want to perform well at an assessment centre, good preparation is necessary.

Here is an account of my experience and some more tips to share with you:

What is an Assessment Centre?

It refers to a combination of tasks and activities that test if you are the right person for the advertised role. It provides an opportunity to showcase relevant skills through exercises such as a group discussion; written assignment; presentation and face-to-face interview. Employers’ generally have a set of competencies and a benchmark to assess your performance against.

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Class of 2018: Acing the video interview

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This piece was written for Class of 2018 Month by Lisa Carr, a Careers Consultant at the University of Leeds Careers Centre.

According to the Institute of Student Employers, over half of employers now use video interviews as part of their graduate selection process. Most video interviews are pre-recorded and are shorter than live face-to-face or telephone interviews, with employers often scrolling through and deciding in the first couple of minutes whether to watch any further. So it pays to be prepared – that first impression is crucial.

Here’s how to give yourself the best chance.

Set the scene

Recruiters make quick judgements based on visual cues. A strong impression is also formed by the room you are in. What does the room say about you? Choose a neutral canvas and remove clutter and distractions (such as empty beer cans!). If books or pictures are on display, make sure they look professional. Ensure your desk and chair give you a good posture and that your room is well lit – avoid sitting in front of the window as this can cast a shadow. You’ll also want to make sure your housemates know not to disturb you. If in doubt, you can always book a room at the Careers Centre if you want a quiet, professional-looking setting for your interview.

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Class of 2018: Researching for interviews

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This piece was written for Class of 2018 Month by Pablo Costa, a Careers Adviser at the University of Leeds Careers Centre.

As a former recruiter, I was pretty sure an interview candidate would know what skills we would talk about during an interview. After all, we highlighted them on the advert. But I wanted to see the motivation that they had for joining the organisation in the first place. Why?

Well, many recruiters worry that candidates have just applied because they think “the more I apply to, the more chance I have, right?” So how can you show motivation in an interview using research?

A really easy way is to follow the company via social media. Most organisations have LinkedIn/Twitter/Facebook accounts, and you can follow them for the most recent updates. You can research the organisation’s website, but what information should you gather? A good idea would be to fully understand who they are, their sector, and any recent news, but for more in-depth points to cover in your research, read on!

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Class of 2018: Can you really plan your career?

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This piece was written for Class of 2018 Month by Lisa Carr, a Careers Consultant at the University of Leeds Careers Centre.

We are taught from an early age that successful careers are the result of planning. Parents and teachers ask us what we want to be when we grow up. Employers ask us about our 10 year career ambitions in interviews.

Yet in this fast-changing age of the gig economy, portfolio careers, and an increasingly AI-driven and globalised world, how realistic is it for anyone to really plan their career?

Should you even try?

The answer is yes – and no.

The traditional approach to career planning is analyse-and-implement. You work out your motivations and interests (using something like prospects planner), find out which jobs match, and then apply to an advertised vacancy. This approach still works well if you like planning ahead, want to commit to a long term career path and are applying for sectors which recruit well in advance, such as banking, teaching or law.

But not everyone wants to commit to a long-term career path. Often, you don’t know what you like doing until you are actually doing it anyway. In real life, most people’s careers unfold rather than being actively planned.

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Class of 2018: Getting the most out of the ‘hidden job market’

 

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This piece was written for Class of 2018 Month by Alex Proctor, a Careers Adviser at the University of Leeds Careers Centre.

“It’s not what you know, but who you know.” It’s a common phrase; a cliché even, but it’s one all graduates should bear in mind when undertaking their job search. The importance of contacts in any industry shouldn’t be understated, because the ‘hidden job market’ does exist.

My success story

I was fortunate enough to benefit from the hidden job market when trying to break into the world of Careers Advice and Guidance. While on a placement within the sector, I put time into developing professional relationships with two senior managers outside of my team. As a result, they went on to offer me a further unadvertised role.

Admittedly I wasn’t an expert for this particular job, and needed a lot of training to undertake the day-to-day responsibilities, but by demonstrating my networking abilities, enthusiasm for the sector and transferable skills, I managed to crack the hidden job market. Without working on my professional contacts, I might not have been fortunate enough to gain this experience, which I am still developing in my role at present.

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Class of 2018: Question Your Future

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This June is Class of 2018 Month, but what does that mean, exactly? Well, aside from a massive four-week programme of digital content designed to help you get to grips with your plans for the future, we’re encouraging all finalists to get in touch and question your future!

Each week we’ll be hosting a themed week of digital content, following the rough stages of finding, applying for, and landing an opportunity such as a job or research position. Your questions don’t have to be on the weekly topic, but we’d encourage it if possible! At the end of each week, we’ll answer all your questions in our Friday blog post, along with a summary of anything interesting that’s popped up during the week. We’re encouraging everyone to get involved if possible to make a great body of frequently-asked questions to help both current and future students.

As such, we’re offering some incentive for your time and effort – all students who ask a question will be automatically entered into our Class of 2018 raffle, where you could win a magnum of Moët & Chandon or a Hotel Chocolat selection. This raffle will be drawn at the end of Class of 2018 Month, and you must be able to come in to the Career Centre to collect your prize.*

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Why accounting students should take a year abroad

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This guest post was written by Kara Copple of The Accountancy Partnership, which manages accountancy and tax affairs for over 4000 UK businesses of varying size.

Congratulations! You’ve worked so hard and finally got your degree. You may be thinking   “now what?” – should you go straight into the world of work, or should you take some time for yourself?

While some will opt for getting a job while all your knowledge is fresh in your head, there are plenty of benefits to holding off. A well-earned break after all those long hours of hard study sounds enticing, doesn’t it?

However, a survey conducted by HostelWorld in 2016 showed that only 25.93% of respondents had taken a gap year.

Productive gap years

A gap year might be a good excuse for a holiday, but the best ones are productive as well as fun. We’re not suggesting spending a year sitting on a beach sipping cocktails (although there will be room for some of that).

A productive year abroad can help set you up for a successful career in accounting if you use your time wisely. If you’d like to know the benefits of taking a year abroad, read on.

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