Updated: Feb 8, 2021

As applications for most internships and vacation schemes come to a close over the next few weeks, with most already being closed, many firms/companies will begin their interviews and assessments centres in the coming months. With this in mind, below are detailed some tips for preparing for and completing interviews and assessment centres.

1. Preparation and research

This is certainly one that may be quite obvious but, nevertheless, is extremely important. Ensuring that you have a great understanding of the company/firm to which you have applied to as well as the particular scheme you have applied to is crucial to ensuring you come across well in an interview, demonstrating to assessors that you are dedicated and motivated to working for the company/firm at which you are applying to.

This step is also really important to make sure that you are aware of the format of your assessment centre/interview. Different firms and companies all have different ways of assessing candidates at assessment centres/interviews, some of which include:

• 1-to-1 (or maybe even 1-to-2/3) competency-based interviews

• Group interviews/group tasks

• Article/report review

• Negotiation/role play tasks

So, it is important you are aware of which tasks your assessment centre/interview comprises of, so you can best prepare and practice for each of the individual components of your assessment centre/interview.

It is also a good idea to ensure that you have a great knowledge of your application (including your CV (if you submitted one), answers to any specific application questions and/or your cover letter).

2. Keep up to date with current events in the news

It is extremely likely that at some point during the course of your assessment centre/interview that you will be asked to discuss a recent news story that is relevant in some way to the company or the sector in which the role you have applied for falls under. It may be the case that such a question isn’t explicitly asked, but there will likely be an instance where you are able to bring in a wider commercial context into your interview, evidencing this with discussion of current events that you have researched prior to your interview.

Commercial awareness is becoming a term that is increasingly used by firms and companies in the commercial/corporate sphere and ensuring you’re able to evidence your commercial awareness is really important. Some general topics that are relevant to most if not all commercial/corporate sectors at the moment include:

• Climate Change

• Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and other technological advancements.

• Brexit

• COVID-19

These are all topics that impact the way the company/firm is able to operate, the way in which their customers/clients operate and the way in which the company/firm is able to best advise/assist their customers/clients. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but just a couple of ideas to get you started when doing your research into current events and news stories.

3. Try your best to remain calm and be yourself

Always keep in mind that this is the firm/company’s opportunity to get to know you better, as prior to this they’ve only seen your application (and maybe spoken with you briefly via a telephone interview if this was part of the application process for the firm/company you’ve applied for). So, whilst again it may sound obvious (and often sometimes is easier said than done), always try your best to remain calm and be yourself, this way the firm/company can really get to know the real you and you can show them all your unique skills and qualities!

Also, bear in mind that it is also an opportunity for you to get to know the firm/company and determine if they are the right for you! Make the most of the opportunity, ask questions about anything that particularly interests you about the firm/company and get to know a little bit more about the work environment and the culture at that firm/company.

So, if you have an assessment centre/interview coming up in the next couple of months, bear these tips in mind and best of luck to you. It is a huge achievement to get to this stage of the application process given the extremely competitive nature of this sector, so be proud of how far you’ve come already!

* DISCLAIMER: This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything you need to do in preparation for your interview/assessment centre. These are tips I have gathered from my own research prior to my previous interviews and assessment centres, as well as from firm/company workshops. These are just a few of the things I found particularly important and useful, and ultimately helped me secure my graduate role. I have included some links below to some websites that have some really great tips and tricks for interviews and assessment centres below – I definitely recommend checking these websites out for some further details.*

Additional resources:

Written by Evan John, President of EILS

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