EXAMPLE SELECTION CENTRE

Below you will find examples of two typical selection centres. These should give you some idea of what to expect. The first day for each selection centre is identical.

Day One

6.00 p.m. Arrive at hotel
7.00 p.m. Briefing session for all candidates:

  • Introduction to the company
  • Outline of the following day's programme

7.45 p.m. Drinks and dinner

  • Candidates
  • Human Resources Director
  • Graduate Recruitment Manager
  • Recent graduate recruit

DAY 2 (Company X)

hot air balloon

Interviewers will be annoyed by too much hot air ...

The content of this selection centre is fairly standard. Exercises such as group discussions and in-tray exercises are used by a wide range of employers, in industry, commerce and the public sector.

Day 2 (Company Y)

The format of this selection centre is more interactive, focusing on interpersonal and communication skills rather than intellectual and analytical ability. This might be used by employers recruiting into marketing, sales, retail or advertising

Day Two (Company X)

9.00 a.m. Group introductions

This is a short exercise whose purpose is to serve as an ice-breaker. Candidates might be asked to:

  1. Introduce themselves to the group, taking two minutes to talk about their background and what makes them tick. Competencies assessed: verbal communication; presentation skills
  2. Spend five minutes talking to their neighbour and finding out about them. Each candidate then introduces their neighbour to the group and outlines what they have learned about them. Competencies assessed: verbal communication; listening and presentation skills

9.30 a.m. In-tray exercise

Candidates work individually on this exercise. Each will be presented with a dossier of papers - memos, notes, telephone messages, reports - similar to that which a manager in the organisation might find in his or her in-tray in the morning. You will need to read through each and decide on the action that needs to be taken on each one, and the priority to be allocated to it. By the end of the exercise, each item should have moved from the in-tray to the out-tray! Competencies assessed: planning, organising, time management, written communication.
See our In-Tray Exercises Page

11.30 a.m. Group discussion

This may be leaderless - the group as a whole will be given a topic to discuss as they wish - or each member of the group may be allocated a role. In the latter case, candidates may be briefed beforehand on their role and the background to the topic under discussion. Competencies assessed: verbal communication; leadership; assertiveness; confidence; co-operation; listening; negotiation; problem-solving; analytical skills.
See our Teamworking Skills page which includes a comprehensive set of tips on how to perform well in group exercises.

Examples of structured discussion exercises:

1.30 p.m. Psychometric/personality tests

Competencies assessed: verbal, numerical or diagrammatic reasoning; working under pressure; analysing information.
See our Psychometric Tests page for more information and lots of practice tests.

3.00 p.m. Individual interviews

Since you are likely to have already had an interview with the company, you may have some idea of what to expect. Only in a few cases, such as the Civil Service Selection Board, will this be your first interview.

How will the second interview differ from the first?

For a start, it will almost certainly be with a different person. Your first interview may well have been with somebody from the Personnel department; the second will probably be with a line manager - a manager from the department or function in which you would be working as a graduate recruit. You may be interviewed by more senior members of staff. Your first interviewer may have made a note of points to cover at the second interview. These may be points that could not be fitted in to the time available for the first interview, or perhaps weaknesses that s/he felt should be probed further. Second interviews for work of a technical nature may go into technical questions in greater depth.
See our Second Interviews page.

Day Two (Company Y)

9.00 a.m. Group task

This combines some of the functions of an ice-breaking exercise with an assessment of the candidates' abilities to work together. You will be given a task to complete and some instructions for how it should be accomplished - procedures to be followed, time constraints etc. - and left to work out together how best to go about it.

Examples of tasks:

Competencies assessed: verbal communication; leadership; assertiveness; teamwork; co-operation; creativity; initiative; time management.

10.00 a.m. Personality/psychometric tests

Competencies assessed: verbal, numerical or diagrammatic reasoning; working under pressure; analysing information.
See our Psychometric Tests page for more information.

11.30 a.m. Group discussion

The group as a whole will be given a topic to discuss as they wish

Example topics:

Competencies assessed: verbal communication; leadership; assertiveness; confidence; listening;
See our Teamworking Skills page

1.30 p.m. Role-play exercises

These may be conducted as a group - each member of the group may be allocated a role and briefed beforehand on their role and the background to the topic under discussion - or on an individual basis.

Example role-playing exercises:

2.30 p.m. Presentations

Candidates may have been asked to prepare their presentation beforehand, or may be required to speak off-the-cuff with only a few minutes to prepare. In either case, the topic may be left for you to choose or may be allocated.

If you are allowed to choose your own topic, try and make it relevant in some way to the company, or the job, applied for. For example, it is fine to your travel experiences but, rather than just outline the places you visited and the experiences of travel itself, try and offer some insights into the culture and society of other countries. Similarly, if talking about your hobbies, don't just outline the rules of some obscure sport but give an insight into what you have learned or gained from it in more general terms.

Don't use the presentation as an exercise in conspicuous self-promotion. The candidate who brags about their achievements, lists the prizes and trophies they have won and the records they have broken can be embarrassing to listen to and will not help their candidature in this way.

Competencies assessed: verbal communication; confidence; time management.
See our page on Presentation Skills

3.30 p.m. Individual interviews

Initial interviews are often conducted by personnel staff and second interviews by the person who will be your manager, but this is not always so.

For a start, it will almost certainly be with a different person. Your first interview may well have been with somebody from the Personnel department; the second will probably be with a line manager - a manager from the department or function in which you would be working as a graduate recruit. You may be interviewed by more senior members of staff. Your first interviewer may have made a note of points to cover at the second interview. These may be points that could not be fitted in to the time available for the first interview, or perhaps weaknesses that s/he felt should be probed further. Second interviews for work of a technical nature may go into technical questions in greater depth.
See our page on Second Interviews.