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How to succeed at our graduate assessment centres

HR By Lucia Kindred, Manager, Resourcing – 25 January 2018

Close view of a person writing a checklist in a square papered notebook


Lucia standing against a marble wall

Lucia Kindred

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Last week we invited 96 aspiring engineers to attend our UK assessment centres for our 2018 UK graduate intake. Having made it to this stage from a hotly contested applicant pool of nearly 2000, the 96 have already outperformed a huge number of their peers during the application process – and the assessment centre is the final hurdle between each of them and a career with Cundall.

So, what can you do to prepare yourself for the big day?

Do your homework

Take some time to read-up/refresh your memory on who we are, what we do, and what is important to us. This is the most important preparation you can make. If you come with a basic understanding of where Cundall fits in to the big construction picture, the kind of work our engineers do, and some of the projects we have worked on – this will shine-through on the day. You might even be able to work some of your learning into your presentation and interview (for extra brownie-points).

Group Exercises

Now these are usually quite entertaining for us as the assessors, as we get to step back and observe you navigating a new problem with completely new team-mates under a little bit of pressure (sorry!). Remember – we’re not looking for leaders or managers at this stage – we’re looking for team players. So, to succeed, make sure you take part. Listen carefully, and cooperate with each other.

The Dreaded Interview

Let’s get this out of the way: we want you to do well. We won’t be asking any wacky questions or trying to catch you out. We want to know more about what you’ve learned from your studies and work experience that relates to what we do, as well as what motivates you.

Other than brushing up on your understanding of Cundall, there really isn’t a great deal more you can do in preparation for this one. Prepare to ask us a few questions of your own, and hopefully this will feel a bit more like a free-flowing conversation than the dreaded interrogation you might be expecting!

Presentation Skills

You’ve got a limited time to give your presentation – so practice it a few times before the day to make sure you keep within the time limit. We’re really testing your presentation skills here, so it’s less about the content of your presentation (though we will definitely take an interest in that too!), and more about how you give it. You might be presenting on something new to us – so prepare to face a couple of follow-up questions from the assessors after your presentation. Be ready to think on your feet!

But most of all…

Try to enjoy it. I know this sounds a little clichéd, but when planning the assessment we really do factor this in. We want you to have enjoyed your time here – otherwise you’re probably not going to want to come back! Feel free to ask as many questions as you like. You’ll meet some of our Graduate Engineers, some Partners, Associates and members of the HR team. We want you to reach the end the day feeling like you have a feel for what it might be like to work here – and that you have given the day your best effort.

Good luck.