Great news! You’ve passed the online tests and initial interview and now you’ve been invited to an assessment centre. So far, so good. But what happens next? Ben Wong, WBS graduate, is here to spill the beans.
I’ll be joining EY next year in the audit service line (Financial Services) and remember what it was like to on the other side of the application and selection process. I know how useful (not to mention reassuring) it is to read about others’ experiences and insights and it certainly helped me prepare before my assessment centre. Forewarned is forearmed! So, here goes…
The assessment centre consisted of three exercises: a group discussion, an individual written exercise and a re-test of the online test.
The task was to choose an industry AND an individual company to invest in, providing two recommendations and two risks for each choice. I had 40 minutes in total for the discussion, split into 15 minutes reading time, 20 minutes to discuss and the last five minutes for questions and answer session with your assessor.
Questions the assessor asked following the discussion:
- What would you do if your recommendations were not well received by the partner?
- The Government recently released new data for one of the industries; how would this affect your recommendation?
- Would you be willing to stay over time to complete this project?
Advice: Keep track of time, address your group mate(s) by name, ask their opinion, help move the discussion along. One of the things assessors look for is how well you communicate with your team mates. It’s not just about the content. Speak clearly, audibly and allow others to speak. Encourage other candidates to participate and contribute as well.
For the individual exercise, there were two parts to write in 40 minutes and and the exercise is completed via Word on a laptop.
Part 1 : Write a summary for a client. They want to know:
- The sales and profit trend in the past years AND the reason for the trend.
- Recent topical issues in the client industry & how the client complies with Government policy.
Advice: There is a lot of information to work through. My tip is to read and follow the instructions so that you can quickly zoom in on the salient points. Be concise and get straight to the point. Try to calculate the percentage increase for the sales and profit trend if you can to highlight your analytical skills.
Part 2: Lead a team to complete an in-depth analysis to be presented to the client by a certain date. They want to know:
- How you will organise your time to ensure the work is completed on time.
- What skills you will learn from this experience.
- How you aim to develop the skills of your team members.
- One of your team members may have an exam within the time frame of the work being completed; your manager wants you to find a way to ensure that if s/he goes for the exam, the work can still be completed on time.
Advice: This is fairly straightforward task. Just explain how you use a timetable, regular meetings, setting deadlines, monitoring the work in progress etc. Note that it is in email form, so use the same format, as follows:
Thank you for your email
If you require further information, please do not hesitate to ask me.
Retest of the online test(s)
This is a standard test of verbal, numerical and diagrammatic tests. The test is paper based, so you’ll have to shade the answers which will take more time than a clicking a mouse. You have to complete eight questions in six minutes. It might be worth getting some practice in beforehand with paper based tests. There are opportunities to do this as a student at Warwick – just pop along to the Student Careers & Skills help desk, and they’ll give you the materials you need.
Advice: There is a real time pressure to consider, but my key message is ‘don’t panic’! Try to complete the test as quickly as you can but don’t sacrifice accuracy for speed. I didn’t finish the test, but I I still met the required standard and passed the assessment centre. Essentially, quality > quantity. And don’t forget to bring your own calculator. They won’t be very forgiving with ill-prepared candidates.
The assessment centre was all over by lunchtime, so it was an intense period but a relatively short one. There was also an opportunity to talk to current EY employees over lunch. I think preparation is crucial and I would definitely encourage you to gather as much information as you can about the process and use resources like WikiJobs and The Student Room forums to pick up useful tips and find out how other students have fared.
Try and enjoy it. Even if you don’t succeed on this occasion, the chances are you’ll be a step closer to getting that graduate job. Learn from the experience and try to hone your technique for next time.