A straightforward question and answer interview is becoming a rarity; it’s much more common for interviews to now include extra assessment tasks, such as skills tests, presentations, practice sales pitches…you name it.
These tasks aren’t just there to cause you extra work; they can be extremely valuable to hiring companies. They add an extra dimension to the interview and provide a way of determining just how prepared candidates are.
They’re also a great way of assessing skills, such as competency, communication, leadership and the ability to think on your feet (all of which can be difficult to gauge from a CV).
As a candidate, these tasks can also provide an extra chance for you to set yourself apart from the competition – you’ll be given the opportunity to not only talk about your skills and experience but also to show them.
So, how do you go about tackling these challenging interview tasks? Webrecruit discusses how to make the best possible impression:
Task 1: The Presentation
This is probably the most common interview task that you’ll be asked to complete. However, depending on the position that you’re interviewing for, the content of the presentation can vary drastically.
The hiring manager or recruiter will likely give you a brief for the presentation, including the length of time that they’d like you to speak for. Whatever brief you’re given, make sure that you tackle the subject matter head on; don’t make the mistake of putting all your efforts into a presentation only to be marked down for ignoring the brief.
Research the topic thoroughly and make sure that you practice the delivery of your presentation to make sure that you can deliver it within the required timeframe.
If you find that you’re delivering a lot of information, it might be worth producing some one-page documents that you can take along to your interview and hand out to each interviewer. They can then take this away with them and will be left with a physical reminder of your hard work and effort, even after the interview.
Firstly, think about the logistics of your presentation. For example, if you’ve prepared a PowerPoint presentation, pop the interviewer an email to check that there will be a laptop and projector available at the interview.
If you’re using a USB stick to transport your presentation to your interview, there’s a good chance that you’ll be loading it up in front of your interviewer(s). As such, check that there aren’t any strange or inappropriately named files on your USB stick to save embarrassment.
When delivering your presentation, speak slowly but clearly and confidently. Remember to make eye contact with each interviewer – whether it’s just the hiring manager or a whole panel.
It’s also worth keeping a glass of water on hand – it’s amazing how quickly your mouth can dry out when delivering a presentation!
Finally, remember that a smile goes a long way. Everyone will appreciate that you’re nervous but a smile will make you likeable, as well as making you feel happier and calmer.
Task 2: The Skills Test
The skills test isn’t there to trick you – it exists purely to check that you’re competent enough to fulfil the requirements of the vacancy.
Skills tests are particularly common when interviewing for an IT or other technical position. Anyone could lie on their CV by stating that their skill-set includes C#, Python, Java or any other programming language.
By taking the test, you’ll simply be backing up any skills that you’ve listed on your CV; they’re just a way of putting what you already know into practice so shouldn’t require too much stress (unless of course you’ve exaggerated on your CV).
Task 3: The Written Assignment
Although written assignments are less commonly seen as an interview task, you might be asked to complete one if you’re applying for a copywriting or communications vacancy.
Your written task is likely to be fairly short so make sure that you’re as clear and concise as possible. Take the time to read some existing comms from the business; what is their writing style like? Consider their brand’s voice and try to adapt your own writing style to match this.
Additionally, make sure that you carefully proofread and edit your work; there’s nothing more embarrassing than your interviewer pointing out a typo after you’ve spent the past 10 minutes talking about how great your attention to detail is.
Task 4: The Group Exercise
You might find yourself participating in a group exercise if you attend an assessment day where there are several of you being interviewed. Assessment days are particularly common for graduate schemes or high volume recruitment drives for customer service roles or similar.
During a group exercise, you’ll usually be set a challenge or a question that you have to work together to try and solve. There aren’t any real ways of preparing for these tasks but it’s worth considering the following:
Show how well you work in a team
Group exercises are usually set to assess your ability to work as part of a team. As such, it’s important that you listen to everyone, work together and make an effort to bond with other interviewees.
In a group exercise, you will always come across candidates who try to dominate the conversation and talk for the sake of talking, in an attempt to look impressive. Don’t be that person.
However, it’s important to be confident and contribute to the discussion or activity in a positive way. When speaking, make sure that you’re clear, concise and able to communicate your points effectively.
Don’t underestimate the importance of listening as well. Ensure that you pay attention to what everyone else has to say and be supportive.
Don’t act like a different person to try and impress in a group situation. You’ve come this far in the process because of you and your own skills. Allow yourself to shine by being you.
Take our tips into account, however the most important thing you can do with any interview task is to simply be prepared.