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    finding the right candidateAs we know, the sports industry is a highly competitive environment to enter and as the industry continues to professionalise it's operations, so do the processes that sporting organisations are using to hire new talent.

    As you may have experienced, hiring processes are become more rigorous and sophisticated with companies using a blend of traditional and new methods to filter hundreds or even thousands of applications in order to evaluate their capacities and suitability with the company and select a group of candidates for interview. Assessment Centres have proven for may companies across diverse industries to be a powerful and successful method to filter candidates that accurately fit a job position and culture of an organisation. Now this process is becoming more and more common in the sporting sector and are being used not only at big names in sport, but also the smaller organisations where getting the right fit for roles, is critical to business success. 

    Assessment Centres have proven for may companies to be a powerful and successful method to filter candidates that accurately fit a job position and culture of the organisation.

    What is an Assessment Centre? It is a form of evaluating candidates that includes processes such as exercises and interviews focused on identifying the most qualified, dynamic and efficient individuals that meet the job requirements and also fit the organisation’s working culture. An Assessment Centre usually lasts from half-a-day to two full days depending on the depth of the process. Most likely it will be conducted at the employer's offices or third party venue such as a hotel or conference centre.

    For applicants, an assessment centre can be a stressful and taxing environment. In contrast with a standard job interview in which the candidate’s resume is the main subject of the conversation, at an assessment centre, candidates have to complete a series of individual and team exercises that can last several hours and often with added time pressure. Through applying these tough tests and exercises, employers aim to test their applicants’ soft skills, which are usually not apparent from their resumes.

    By understanding how to effectively prepare for assessment centres and manage the mental challenge they bring, you will be ready for success and increase your chances of beat the competition to your dream job. 

    Prepare yourself to perform the best way possible

    Assessment Centres are normally the final or penultimate episode of the selection process. Typically, candidates have already been filtered prior to the actual Assessment Centre to make it easier for the company to assess candidates. It is therefore likely that you would have to go through an e-assessment, a skype interview, a phone call or similar before you are invited to the actual assessment centre.

    As with every other interview situation, preparation is key. Successful candidates are always better prepared than unsuccessful ones. This may not be a quick-fix assessment centre tip, but preparing beforehand is the foundation of success:

    Know the company

    Research the company or organisation and understand their ethos – what do they strive to do or achieve? Understand what their ‘ideal employee’ looks like by researching on their website or and related sources. Ideally speak to employees if you know someone at the company to uncover insights into the people and the culture. Also, know the job description in detail and read between the lines to understand what they are looking for in the future employees. 

    Make notes on what you want to say

    While it can be valuable to be spontaneous during an assessment, you also need to prepare. Recall answers that were given during the interview process and make them better, and have concise examples of different work experiences you had in the past, including the specific tasks you were assigned, the approach you took for solving problems and opportunities and the outcome.

    Train for the most common exercises

    Although assessment centres differ from company to company, there are some exercises that are integral to every assessment centre. Abstract, numerical and verbal reasoning assessments are very common methods and you should practice completing some questionnaires that focus on these methods. As a result, the questions in the assessment will not come as a surprise and you will be mentally prepared for how to approach your response.

    To achieve the best preparation possible, we have outlined three common exercise types and advice  to help you ace your responses.

    Case Study

    The case study is a written exercise that simulates the working behaviour of the participants. The aim is to solve a complex but manageable problem within a specific time frame and to present it conclusively afterwards. With this practical task, HR teams want to test the technical knowledge and decision-making skills of applicants. In case studies, applicants are often on their own. Working independently to evaluate the question, analyse a problem situation and develop alternative solutions. There is no exchange of information during the process, and feedback is only given after the assignment. The good news is that there is not one right solution that you have get to. Rather, it is a matter of keeping calm, taking all aspects of the task into account and thinking about a solution in a structured and composed manner. If, on the other hand, the case study is designed as a group task, keep in mind that team spirit and your cooperation with others are important aspects that will be evaluated.

    The case analysis is not defined by getting a specific solution, but in presenting the result of the solution in a meaningful, measured and transparent way. Demonstrate your methodology and how you got to your outcome while ensuring you communicate your process clearly and efficiently to examiners, using visual aids in necessary. 

    Explain exactly what expertise helped you, how you prioritised tasks, how you focused on the essentials and skilfully demonstrate your ability to analyse.

    It is very likely that the problem case presented for the case study is related to an industry-specific topic area. It is therefore very helpful to prepare well. You have the best chances if you understand (and ideally have experience) of real challenges within companies (e.g. competitive behaviour, marketing strategies) and are very familiar with the industry. Keep an close eye on current trends, developments and insights across the industry and even your functional expertise if appropriate.

    Mail Basket

    In an Assessment Center, this exercise will surprise you with a full mailbox and you will be overwhelmed by messages of all kinds. The main objective of this exercise is to find out how you organise yourself and how you can manage your time. In this artificial but realistic situation, you as an applicant have to evaluate processes, make decisions, prioritise and delegate tasks. The mail basket exercise is very popular with HR teams as it tests a wide range of skills such as resilience, stress behaviour, combination capabilities and overview. Stay composed and initially take time to get an overview perspective of the task. When it comes to time management, career experts advise you to follow the Eisenhower principle: Record and organize the individual documents. It is useful to make notes of the desired appointments in the calendar and consider possible connections, then categorise in four groups:

    Important and urgent: must be done immediately

    Important, but not urgent: schedule and do it yourself

    Not important and urgent: delegate

    Unimportant and not urgent: no need for action, can be discarded

    Elevator Pitch

    The Elevator Pitch has become a common term in modern business, especially in the start-up world. It was originally a sales technique for sales teams to convince customers and management of their idea during an ‘elevator’ ride. The concept is to present the key principle of your idea that can get audience interest and buy-in within 60 seconds.

    In Assessment Centres, an Elevator Pitch is commonly used within an interview context to ‘sell’ yourself and outline why they you should choose you. Questions like “tell me something about yourself” are usually an indicator to present yourself in elevator pitch mode. Just like in any other presentation exercise, you will be assessed your communication and presentation skills and your focus on the question. 

    To make a good impression and succeed in an Elevator Pitch cut the unnecessary and highlight the most important information about yourself. Prepare by defining your key experiences and personality traits that make you perfect for the role and the company in question. Bring in real life examples from outside your professional life if it helps build an emotional connection and strengthens your pitch. Finally, highlight your key skills and competencies that fit the opportunity, but keep it a max of 4, so you don't overload your assessor with information.


    As the quote goes; 'By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail'. For Assessment centre success, preparation is key and following these steps and exercise types will put you in the best position to catch the attention of your future employer.

    Find more great articles to prepare for your new role in sport on our Prepare: Knowledge Hub

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