PWC Assessment Centre
Assessment Centres are a part of the recruitment process for larger companies and organisations, used mostly for graduate and professional level candidates; they are often referred to as assessment days, and have between 6 and 20 candidates in attendance at one time. They can take place in one of a few places, including the company’s own office, or at a hired venue such as a hotel. With regard to PWC, their assessment centre is the fourth stage of their recruitment process, following the online registration, online psychometric tests, and first interview. At the assessment centre candidates will go through a number of tasks, allowing the employer to view each of the criteria they deem important in an employee of their company. PWC, specifically, names these criteria as their ‘Global Core Competencies’, or, GCCs. The first task will usually involve repeating the psychometric tests that were completed previously online, although content may differ, and they will be in paper format. There will then be group, and possibly, individual exercises; the group exercise will assess your abilities of teamwork, time management, taking lead on a project and delegation, amongst others. Whilst individual exercises involve the candidate working with a trained assessor, rather than the other candidates. For some more specific job roles there could also be a case study and presentation exercise involved; the case study would be a more real-life assessment of putting the experience you already have into solving an issue that may come up in the job role. Presentations test your ability to communicate ideas, the thought process that goes into these ideas, and your knowledge of the area you are presenting. There is usually a final written exercise, in which you will have to give a report on materials provided, relevant to the job role; this is used to assess your writing abilities, as this is a large part of most work duties.
Showing your personality is important here, as there may be many candidates who are equally suited, academically or through experience, to the job; and so it is your unique personality attributes that may put you ahead. It is essential to have researched the company, and prepared yourself for any competency questions you may be asked, as having the core information will allow you to focus on being yourself and show your personality. Assessment centres usually run for a day, however, they can go on for up to 3 days, depending on the number of candidates, and the level of assessment that has to be attained. They can cost the company up to, and sometimes exceed £3000 per candidate; the applicants are not expected to pay this as the assessment is free to them. It is, however, wise to find out from the company whether travel expenses are covered by them, as it could be pricey for a new graduate who has many assessment centres to attend. Another important thing to remember is the way you dress; the usual code for assessment day dressing is to keep it smart, as you would for an interview. There will be a number of people from the company assessing you whilst at the centre, and their first impression of you could be key in the success of your final outcome. Remember you may be competing with the other candidates in attendance, and so if you walk in wearing a shirt and jeans, whilst everyone else is in suits, you will most likely eliminate yourself straight out of the race. The people who will make up the assessment team will usually comprise of HR reps from the recruiting company, directors, and managers. After viewing all of the applicants for the day they will have a joint discussion on who they feel exceled in areas and who would be most suitable to progress on to a final interview. This is thought to be a fair way to assess the candidates, as it is encompassing not only their cognitive abilities in the psychometric tests, but also the way they deal with real-life problems, particularly in teams. The group discussion also ensures that there are no biased views from any of the assessors, who may simply be picking certain candidates through their personal qualities, rather than any suitability they may have to the job role. There are some individuals who are of the opinion that assessment centres are not as effective as other recruitment tactics in finding the most qualified person for a job. There are however, many thousands of pounds, spent by successful companies all around the world, to use this method, and in graduate level jobs with a vast number of applicants, it can be the most efficient way to ensure everyone is given a fair chance. Often graduates coming straight out of university have little if any experience in the career they are pursuing; assessment centres are therefore a great place to give these candidates a chance to demonstrate their competencies in areas that their CV does little to show.