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Assessment days: How to make a good impression while diffusing a bomb

Assessment days: How to make a good impression while diffusing a bomb

Assessment days are increasingly being used as a recruitment tool when companies are hiring student assistants, interns or recent graduates. However, it can be difficult for students to figure out how to prepare for and act during an assessment day. AAU Career has visited Neas Energy A/S in order to learn why and how they use these days to recruit the best talents. Below, you will get insight into the employer’s perspective on assesment days.

The atmosphere is tense in the top-floor conference room at Neas Energy in Aalborg. Over the sounds of loud noises and intense music, 4 students are eagerly sharing info about numbers, colors, wires, and patterns. The clock is ticking. There are only 5 minutes until the bomb goes off. 3 of the students are desperately trying to solve the puzzles which are presented to them by the last student who is sitting behind a screen. He holds the bomb and needs the correct solutions from the others in order to diffuse it. Suddenly, a loud cracking noise indicates that they did not make it. The bomb has exploded.

The description above is actually not the beginning of a Hollywood action movie. It is a scene from a regular group exercise at a Neas Energy assessment day. Here, the students are evaluated on their group performances in an exercise with a virtual bomb. The focus for the recruiters is to see how the students strategize, communicate, and use logical thinking when under pressure.

“We need to push them outside their comfort zones to see how they react. Everyone writes the same in their applications: that they are good at creating an overview and working in teams when under pressure. This exercise gives a lot of indicators as to whether that is actually true,” Rasmus Vinther Jensen, Team Lead – Trade Support at Neas, explains.


Big responsibility calls for thorough assessments

Neas Energy has around 30 student assistants, or Schedulers as they are called, who mainly study engineering or economics. However, students with other educational backgrounds are also working at Neas.

“The important thing for us is firstly, that the students are able to handle stressful situations, and preferably that they are comfortable working in this manner. Secondly, it is crucial that they have an aptitude for logical thinking, numbers, and mathematics,” Rasmus Vinther Jensen states.

These requirements are directly applicable to the tasks, the students will experience when hired at Neas. Therefore, the assessment days aim to test these exact qualities by exposing the candidates to a mixture of group assignments and written, individual tests. If deemed suitable, the students are invited to an actual job interview. Rasmus Vinther Jensen emphasises that it is the combination of performance, skills, and personality that makes up a good candidate for a job at Neas.

“It is important to be aware of the fact that we have a good eye for talent, as we have had hundreds of candidates through this or a similar process. The applicants are of course being evaluated on their skills, results and performance – but also everything that shows their person, character, and dedication. We realize and appreciate, that we are not hiring only a strong toolbox, but the full person with everything that comes with that.”


Preparing for assessment days

While the exact needs of a company can be difficult for a student to know beforehand, there are some aspects, students can prepare for before going to an assessment day. According to Rasmus Vinther Jensen, apart from preparing the tasks and reading the material provided by the company previous to the assessment day, one of the main things for a student to consider is self-awareness.

“The students need to make sure they know their own abilities and resources. They should be able to know the answers to the questions: What do I want, what can I do, and what do I need to improve? When they have clarified their strengths and weaknesses, they should keep digging even deeper into their self-awareness. In this way, they will present themselves in the most honest way. This means that we get the correct impression of them, and it ensures that they will be selected on the basis of their actual abilities, thereby getting a job they are suited for.”


The right person for the right job

Rasmus Vinther Jensen explains that this process is extremely relevant for students because they do not yet have years of experience to guide them when defining their professional profiles. He believes that if the students are not aware of their own objectives and abilities, they risk getting a job that they are not suited for, thus generating experiences of defeat while, at the same time, causing a company time and money.

This is also one of the reasons for Neas to spend a lot of time giving the candidates feedback on their application process, including the assessment day.

“We encourage all students to ask us follow-up questions when we give them feedback on their assessment day. In this way, they can improve themselves in future job application processes, and learn more about how their personalities and professional profiles are percieved by a company like ours,” Rasmus Vinther Jensen discloses.


Training and challenges

The students that do get hired after the assessment days and interviews are the ones where performance standards, personalities, and skills match the type of employees, the company is looking for in its teams. After having gone through a thourough recruitment process, the students are therefore expected to live up to the high standards and responsibilities, the job offers. However, as Rasmus Vinther Jensen explains, newly hired student assistants are not required to be fully trained and ready for every task they are presented with at the beginning of their employment. Here, a thorough traning process comes into play.

"In my job as a Team Lead - Trade Support, I am quite dependent on student assistants, meaning that I cannot be successful unless I provide thorough training and continuously push the limit of the skills of the students in our team. We never run low on challenges and projects that in every way is equal to what a full-time employee would do, so our task as a team is to be flexible in both time, skills and areas of expertise. This is one of the reasons why a student job in Neas Energy is among the best you can get," Rasmus Vinther Jensen states.


Learn more about assessment days:

Assessment days:  How to prepare and stay calm

Assessment days: How to get there and do well