Just got accepted further in the application process and you’re asked to take part in a Virtual Assessment Center (VAC)? Either you have experienced these before, and you know what to expect OR this can be totally new for you. Personally, I had to google it when I had my first virtual assessment center invitation. So, we will break down everything you need to know and how to prepare yourself in the best possible way!
What is a Virtual Assessment Center?
Firstly, let’s explain why assessment centers exist. It is a series of exercises to test skills not accessible from an interview alone. It gives the hire a very detailed understanding of the candidates’ performance in real-life situations. They can have exercises that replicate a real workplace situation. This is where the candidate’s skills and behaviors are observed and evaluated. This helps in crucial decisions of hiring, developing and identifying the best-fit candidate.
Assessment centers usually take 1 to 3 days. However, nowadays (even before Covid-19), virtual assessment centers are starting to become more common than traditional ones. As of being more cost, time, and resource efficiency. If you have ever participated in a physical one, you know what we are talking about!
There is no set script on what every VAC includes. Depending on the job positions, they will be adapted to the companies needs. But you can be sure they will include some of these:
- Personality test
- Cognitive ability tests
- Situational judgment tests
- Real life work situations
- Role plays
- Case study
- In-basket exercises
- Written task
- Competency-based interviews
This might sound extremely daunting and over the top but it is not as bad as it looks! These exercises will be completed in the comfort of your own personal space! There is no right or wrong answer. You will also be sharing some of the questions with other candidates who are in the same shoes as you. Now the big key to make this run as smooth as possible, you need to ask yourself – How can I prepare for a Virtual Assessment Center? Continue reading, and we will remove the anxiety that you might be feeling already.
What should you expect from a Virtual Assessment Center?
As mentioned earlier, VAC can range in content and time, it all depends on what the company needs and their resources to make that happen. I highly doubt that there will ever be VAC with all the exercises mentioned above in one day. They will pick the ones most related to their needs. In the invitation link, there is sure to be detailed information of the schedule. It would look something like this:
How can you prepare for a Virtual Assessment Center?
The biggest key to success when participating in a VAC is to be prepared. Below we have gathered some of our best tips on how you can help yourself out, all from checklists to group exercises. You betcha, when I had my first VAC, I certainly wished I had all this information in one place! We hope these insights can give you that extra push towards success.
There are many small and big things you can do for yourself to make this process less stressful. Let’s start with the basic stuff first. On the actual day of the VAC it is super important that you make a quick check-list. What does a checklist look like for a VAC?
It can look like this:
- Make sure your laptop/workspace is situated well in regards to WIFI connection, light, and unwanted noise.
- Make sure your charger is close by or plugged in, a dead laptop will not do you any good.
- Check that your microphone and camera work, test call your mum or a friend.
- Read through the invitation link thoroughly. Double-check the time, date, link and other necessary information.
- Download necessary software, e.g. Zoom
- Dress appropriately – as you would for an interview
- RESEARCH THE COMPANY – this is a must, make notes.
- Prepare for difficult questions about yourself, like what are your weaknesses & strengths, or why should you be hired.
- Practise your introduction of yourself with relevant information for the position.
- Be on time – join the URL link 10 min in advance so there is no last-minute errors
- Have back up – Write down the details of the recruiter in case you lose connection to the call. Consider hotspot from your mobile if you’re having connection problems.
- Enjoy – Smile, breathe and relax. Be excited and believe in yourself!
How do you shine in group exercise in a Virtual Assessment Center?
Now for the tricky part. When you’re participating in a VAC, you could be in a call with up to 20 people! Then it can be hard to understand what is actually the wanted behavior by the hire. For example, talking too much or not talking enough can both be wrong. Most candidates dislike this exercise because suddenly now they have to work together, compared to individual tasks. This exercise is obviously important to see how you would work within teams. This can be difficult as you are all strangers and yet, you all want to shine.
Here are some tips:
- Be an active listener. You don’t always have to talk, just for the sake of talking. When others are talking, look engaged, nod your head and have open body language. This can be useful when you want to build on something that was previously mentioned, it shows the hire that you are paying attention. E.g “I really liked what X said about this, I think this could be interesting if we combined Y’s suggestion.”
- When you get a task, it will most likely have a time limit. An easy way to shine here is to remind your fellow candidates in intervals of the time left. This showcases time management skills.
- Be an active contributor to the discussion! Speak with reason and confidence. Don’t come off as dominant as this task is to show you are a team player! Big tip here could be to ask
another candidate their thoughts on your comment – Teamwork is not about saying the most!
How to prepare for a case study or presentation in a Virtual Assessment Center?
There is a big chance that you will be asked as an exercise, beforehand or during the VAC to complete a written task, presentation or case study. You would be given all the information needed to solve the problem or situation. This is where it’s your time to stand out! The way you formulate yourself, your problem-solving skills, and presentation skills. This can really make the difference from other candidates. As these are impossible to pinpoint exactly what they will be about, it is smart to be prepared.
Here are some tips:
- Study the job description and needed skills around the job. One of the questions will for sure be around a skill that is relevant to the position. For example, if you’re applying for a team leader role, they could ask questions related to what one should do in situations like conflict.
- Take time to properly read the instructions given! Nothing is worse than missing a part due to rushing. Of course, keep in mind the time. Time management skills is also something that could be tested. Give yourself realistic time for reading, quick outlay, writing and presentation preparations.
- Once again, BREATH. When presenting there is nothing worse than stressing through all your hard work. Speak slowly. Have pauses, really connect with the audience, use eye contact and try to relax as much as possible. Don’t mumble!
- Always double check your work! Make sure the information is correct and there are no spelling or grammar errors. Especially, if you are handing in a written task, it can be quite damaging if you have not proofread it before handing it in.
We hope these insights made it clearer for you what a Virtual Assessment Center is. What can be expected and how to prepare yourself so you can confidently smash it! If to take two things from this blog it is to research the company and be aware of the exercises that can be present on the day. Nothing is more unprofessional than not being prepared!