Assessment Center or ….

Assessment Center or why do companies believe in grilling their future employees rather than having a lively discussion with them?


I have told you about the one-way-interview via here and how much I would love to start working at the company.

Well, on Friday I had the Assessment Center and let’s say it could have gone better.

I was slightly nervous the night before, I even forgot the dress I wanted to wear so that I had to drive back to my flat and get it.

I stayed at my mums, because she lives closer to the venue.

 The morning was not much better, I threw a hissy fit because my mums mascara stained on my lid, which mine never does and I had forgotten mine as well, because hey Mascara is mascara ( turns out it isn’t…) Well at least I arrived in time, although as the last one.

We did some small talk about the arrival and academic background before the HR person took us into the first room. There we had to make some brief introduction and then started with the data analysis exercise.

Data Analysis Exercise 

We had to allocate 60 units of lightweight jackets to some stores located in three different regions. There were some restrictions as to how many items had to be sent and when they would arrive. The data given were weekly sales, inventory and an indicator S/S I think it stood for Supply to Sales, indicating how many weeks the stock would last if the sales remain the same. We had the week that had just ended 2nd march and the week prior as well as the week of 18th March from the year before. We should then allocate the merchandise and write down the rationale behind our decision.

I thought I did pretty well, until I checked the restrictions again and saw that I wanted to allocate double the allowed amount to the store to be newly opening in three weeks time.

 Well I had to quickly fix my numbers then as we only had 4 minutes left out of the allotted 15. All the other candidates seemed to have written more than me, but that didn’t irritate me too much. I am a friend of precise words, that is until I don’t know what to say then I tend to mumble on incoherently instead of just shutting up.

Group Exercise I

Directly after HR took our papers we were guided into another room where our assessors were already seated. There we did another round of presentation, I totally tanked mine…

After stating my name and successfully making a joke about how I didn’t want to disclose my age, the rest of the sentence was not so concise. I often have this problem also at work; there I fixed it by actually preparing a short introduction word for word and learning it by memory.

The assessors briefly introduced themselves and stated their position within the company (the Italian buyer for women’s lingerie and something at least repeated my age joke) than they started to explain the first group exercise. We had to pick a product each from the ones that were laid out in the table in front of us and judge it regarding to the criteria scale they use. Afterwards we had to present our results.

I only half tanked this one ( I mixed up the structure and jumped from point to point) 

Then they asked us to pick the best and second best product for their store in a group discussion. Being an all female group we were incredibly harmonic and someone proposed to jot down the major points at the flipboard, she had to do this of course, I excused myself with my terrible handwriting ( An art teacher of mine once told me that my homework had the charm of a train wreck…) 

In this exercise I think I was able to score a bit when I told them that I don’t agree with the overall quality of the chosen product ( a gift set of two baby bottles and a pacifier) some items were loose in the packaging and I would not want to give or receive that as a present, successful joke number two: unless it has been used in so many assessment centers before the quality is not okay. I shut up after this joke. The assessors had some questions, sometimes asking in the round sometimes addressing persons directly.

I have been obsessing with the right answer to the ranking and I think number one should have been the blouse, it was knocked down more than two/thirds, around 75% I guess and it was from the upper priced brand of a highly recognised high street brand, had a summary flair to it and great quality in terms of stitches etc. ( sorry I just had to get this out, as I have developed a throbbing headache over all the things I could have done better, and this I think was a major point but it never occurred to me during our discussions)

Instead we chose a black tweed ballerina from a lower premium brand highly recognised by middle-aged women I’d say and the baby bottle gift set  

Group Exercise II

As all exercises had to be completed under extreme time pressure we started quickly with the second exercise we got our data analysis sheets back and now had 15 minutes to allocate only 30 units of the jackets (which we as a group only got 12 minutes into the exercise when one of the assessors told us again) and once again come to a group decision.

In this discussion I stood my ground a bit more firmly than in the one before, partly because I know how to do data analysis and partly because the most active participant was twisting the sense behind the key indicator ( I should have voiced so, making either a complete ass out of myself or out of here…) Of course the majority had a differing opinion from mine.  As I can’t hide my emotions I was asked by the Italian buyer if I was content with the result of the group decision and I declined and explained why.

Another assessor asked why we had sent 1/3 of the units to the store with lowest annual sales revenue ( that was when I had to constrain myself hard to not facepalm myself as I have not seen those important figures on the data report given…)

Final round

Lastly we could ask some questions to the assessors about the program / company etc.

I asked about their classification system for the goods, as they had stressed sometimes before that the report we were given was sort of real life, and to me it seemed incredibly basic and I wanted to know which classifications they used to steer their merchandise distribution and analyse it.

They told me that they didn’t look at sizes and that colours were only regarded in some regions and what we were handed was pretty much a real report. Mine was the last question to be answered before we left.

I had a brief chat with two of the participants, one had finished her masters degree in Supply Chain Management and was the one getting some of the numbers twisted and the other one comes from a similar background like me, she also did a dual studies in Management but is further on obtaining her Masters whilst simultaneously working at a small consultancy firm.

I briefly discussed payment with them and that led me to reconsider my position if they should ask me for the final interview.

Today or tomorrow I will know if they want to see me for a final interview and presentation.

 You guys ( I have to come with a different word for you my dear readership, as I don’t feel comfortable using the generic masculine, any suggestions ? ) it felt really good getting it all out. My headache has nearly vanished and I refuse to believe that it’s the merit of the pill I took before I started writing 

Picture courtesy of


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