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Assessment days: How to get there and do well

Assessment days: How to get there and do well

It can be a long and challenging process to get invited to participate in an assessment day — and it can be even harder to perform well on the day. AAU Career has put together a small guide with tips and tricks for the various steps you need to take before, during and after your assessment day.

In the spring semester of 2018, Croatian student Monika Sandelić who is currently writing her master’s thesis in Electrical Power Systems and High Voltage Engineering at AAU, applied for a graduate position at Danish energy company Ørsted (previous Dong). Inspired by her application process and her experiences during and after her assessment day, we have put together this small guide. Please remember that all application processes and assessment days vary in requirements and content. Therefore, use this guide as inspiration and a source of knowledge about what to expect.


Before applying - CV and LinkedIn

Before you begin looking at job postings, Monika Sandelić advises that you update your LinkedIn profile and your cv. The content of these will often be the first thing a company representative reads. Therefore, make sure that both your profile and cvclearly state who you are as a professional, what you can do, and what kind of job you are looking for.

Also, be sure to have a simple and structured layout in your cv- this makes it easier for the reader to get an overview of your professional profile. Feel free to use the brochure provided by AAU Career about How to write a good cv. When you have updated your cv and your LinkedIn profile in accordance with your education, experience and objectives, you are ready to start looking for job openings.


Application - How to write a good cover letter

All applications are unique. Therefore, it is important to research the company, you are seeking to get hired in. Make sure that you do not merely focus on what this job opportunity can do for you, but rather what you can do for the company.

Also, an interesting headline, the use of company buzz-words, and a well-structured and well-formulated cover letter, is key to getting noticed. During the process of applying for a graduate position at Ørsted, Monika Sandelić made use of AAU Career’s brochure about How to write a good cover letter. She also booked career counseling sessions with AAU’s career advisers in order to get feedback on her cover letter before sending it to Ørsted. This opportunity is open to all AAU students.


How to research the company

Throughout the application process, Monika Sandelić made sure to thoroughly research the company, she was applying for a position in. This was done in order to be able to show both knowledge about and dedication towards the job position as well as the company as a whole. Researching a company can be done by looking at its website and taking note of specific visions, objectives, and buzz-words. For example, Monika Sandelić noticed that Ørsted often uses the phrase “the best first step you’ll ever take,”  in their advertisements for job openings. Therefore, she titled her cover letter “First steps are always important. I would like to take mine in Europe’s fastest growing energy company,” thereby using the buzz-words “first step,” without copying the exact formulation.

Another way to research a company is to look at its recent budgets and the number of employers, departments and divisions in order to know the current status of the company. It is not expected that you know everything about a company when applying for a job or going to an interview or assessment day. It is, however, an advantage to be able to display some insights into the company profile and characteristics.


IQ test and video

After passing the initial screening, Monika Sandelić was asked to take an IQ test and to send a presentation video of herself to the recruiters at Ørsted. Even though you cannot change your IQ results drastically by practicing, Monika Sandelić reveals that she actually practiced beforehand, using tests she found online. This helped her get into the mindset of the classic IQ tests which are based on logical thinking. When preparing for the presentation video, she continued her research on the company in order to, once again, make sure that she clearly communicated how she would become an asset for Ørsted, if they decided to choose her for the position.


Skype interview

The next step in the application process was a Skype interview (See guide: link). Like the previous steps in the application process, it is possible to prepare even though you do not know the details of the content beforehand. Monika Sandelić prepared by practicing answers to typical questions such as “why do you want this position,” “what can you bring to this company,” and “what are your strengths and weaknesses.” She practiced this by saying it out loud to herself, and even recording it, in order to be able to evaluate her responses.  Also, Monika Sandelić ensured that she was located at a place with a stable internet connection and quiet surroundings during the actual interview.


The Assessment day

Finally, Monika Sandelić got the message that she was invited for an assessment day — or “the Hunger Games,” as she jokingly describes it. Beforehand, she took some time to consider the different elements of the tightly packed schedule. The schedule included interviews, presentations, group exercises, tests, and a networking event. Monika Sandelić also prepared an assignment provided by Ørsted in the weeks before the assessment day.

The true challenge, however, was not knowing what to specifically expect and how to prepare for a variety of possible exercises and tests. According to Monika, you cannot prepare in detail for the assessment day because the company will most likely not reveal the actual content of the day’s program. Therefore, Monika focused on continuing her research of the company, as well as digging into her own selfawareness.

This meant that she had to learn more about her own strengths and weaknesses, and how they are perceived. This is not an easy task — especially if you are a recent graduate without years of professional experience. You can, however, start by asking yourself a variety of questions such as “what are you good at,” “what tasks and challenges during your education, have you liked the most,” and “what is your dream job?” Also, think about how you usually act during group exercises and projects and specifically how this might be perceived. Do not try to change your personality but be aware of your role in a group and how this can become a positive contribution to a team.

Monika Sandelić emphasizes that the length of the assessment day at Ørsted was a challenge. Being assessed and scrutinized from 9:30 in the morning until 18:00 is tough on any person. Therefore, be aware of this fact, and try to stay energized by drinking and eating consciously throughout the day — it might sound like a minor detail but it can be the thing that makes you successful during the entire day. Monika Sandelić experienced that it was quite difficult to maintain focus during the final group exercise, which turned out to be one of the most important parts of the day.


After the assessment day

The waiting period is always difficult. When Monica got the call from Ørsted, she did, unfortunately, not receive good news. She had not been chosen for the graduate position. This, however, does not leave Monika Sandelić with regret about all the hard work, she put into the application process. On the contrary, she explains that the proces taught her so much about her own capabilities, how to apply for jobs in the future, and also, what kind of jobs she wants to pursue.

According to Monika Sandelić, the first real application proces is really tough, because you have to do everything from scratch. In the future, she believes she can reuse many of the tools and tips, she has learned during the application process and assessment day at Ørsted. Her advice to students who are applying for jobs and going to assessments days is clear-cut: “Preparation for each stage of the recruitment process is not wasted but invested time.”


Learn more about assessment days:

 Assessment Days: How to Make a Good Impression while Diffusing a Bomb

Assessment Days: How to Prepare and Stay Calm