In my last post I spoke of the importance in conveying your unyielding will to get the job in front of you. Well this past week I attended an assessment centre for a job I truly wanted. It was the final round before offers would be made and I had done everything I could possibly do to prepare for the two-day event. Even going so far as to bring a snow shovel with me should the country be shut down again. They knew I wanted it, I knew I wanted it; there was no question about it. But as these things usually turn out, I did not get the job. Extremely disheartening, but I’ll deal with it.
As for the exact reasons why it didn’t work out, I am not scheduled to receive feedback until the New Year. But it most definitely wasn’t because of my lack of motivation or desire to work in the industry. All I know is that I did not meet their “benchmark” level in terms of required competencies. Oh well, their loss. How were they measuring these, you ask? Through a series of varying group and solo exercises. Over the two days I sat a business analysis test, fired someone in a role play, responded to specific business issues in a written exercise, sat an interview, prepared a presentation, gave that presentation, and helped make a group decision based on those presentations.
Overall it was a great experience. I had watched The Apprentice “Interview” episode the night before so my nerves were completely at ease. Nothing could be as bad as that. I didn’t put on a show or pretend to be someone I wasn’t, just straight up Mark Kowalski (the brand). So if they don’t think I’m the right person for the job, then I guess they are not the right company for me.
So what have I taken from this experience? What knowledge can I impart unto thee? Well I can’t tell you how to impress the assessors or do well in the assessments, because obviously, I didn’t. However, I can tell you how I believe I was able to secure a spot in the final stage of the application process. I found it all rather simple really. It just came down to being adequately prepared.
The prerequisite stage to this one was a telephone interview. Prior to it I set about preparing STAR responses to demonstrate each of the core competencies that the company looked for. As well, all the other usual interview questions one would expect to be asked. In the end, they only asked me four questions. FOUR. And they all centred on demonstrating, from a total of twelve, four of those core competencies. I was shocked when they said that the interview was over. So much so that I voiced my concerns that I hadn’t given them any examples demonstrating my financial background (for it was a finance scheme I had applied to). However, they insisted that they had enough information. I guess I had nothing to worry about because shortly thereafter I received the next invite.
The benefits of this preparation would resurface again during the assessment centre. In the back of my mind, I knew they’d be ticking boxes under each of the twelve competencies as we progressed through the exercises. And I did my best to embody them throughout, but also made sure not to put on an act. I knew when the time came for the 1on1 interview that I could demonstrate these attributes with much more veracity. It was the only assessment I could have prepared for, and I came out of it feeling very confident with my performance. Of course, I’ll have to wait to hear if the feedback agrees. It could be that my field of ponies were running in the wrong direction.
At the end of the day though, I really don’t think I could have done anything better (my shoes certainly could have subdued a narcissist). Sure it was tough, and in hindsight I could have approached a few things differently. But live and learn. I prepared as thoroughly as possible. I knew the company and the industry like the back of my hand. And I made sure to get across my unrelenting desire for the job. Oh well, time to take a break and be thankful for the important things in life – my family, my friends, and the fact that I don’t have to commute through that fluffy white stuff outside that’s apparently pushing Britain back into recession.
Hey, there’s a job an expat-Canadian like myself could do: National Snow Advisor. My first decree? Deal with it!
Author: Mark Kowalski