Bradford University, School of Management – Mock Assessment Centre Day

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to participate in the two  “mock interview” days for Business Management undergraduates which the students found very helpful.

Today was the first day of the two “mock assessment” centre days that the same students undertake as part of their employability programme in their second year of study

Debbie Adams briefing students and employers

Debbie Adams briefing students and employers

Along with myself there were representatives form various employers (both public and private sector) acting as assessors and giving feedback about the performance of students in the two activities they undertook. Debbie Adams from the faculty was on hand to brief the students and employers whilst Elaine Dean co-ordinated the day in her usual orderly way.

Students assembling for the assessment centre

Students assembling for the assessment centre

The first activity was the construction of a 1 metre high tower using plastic straws and involved a briefing, followed by 10 minute planning time and then 10 minutes to build the actual tower.

Students hard at work on one of the exercises

Students hard at work on one of the exercises

Of the three groups I observed and assessed, two rushed into the activity without any planning and seemed to be communicating with each other by osmosis. I asked each individual in one group to describe the structure they thought they were building, all four group members had no idea what the tower looked like.

The group I assessed in the afternoon (and they were very nice to me!)

The group I assessed in the afternoon (and they were very nice to me!)

The last group I observed (pictured) started with a clear plan, drew the tower and agreed what it would look like. Communication within the group was good and they listened to each other (most of the time). Ideas were thrown in, occasionally on deaf ears, but the quality of the team working was positive. Unfortunately, the one critical element they fell down on was “time management” and did not complete the task fully within the timescale.

The second task was the formulation of three interview questions which students had to do individually and then debate in their team to agree a “common question” for each of them. Results as could be expected were variable, with the two morning groups perhaps coming up with the better questions.

The "sartorial elegance" of some dress or what?

The “sartorial elegance” of some students…… dress or what?

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable day, the students were a pleasure to work with and seemed very receptive to the feedback they received (although one did say she didn’t like negative feedback!) and which will be incorporated into their reflective document.

A couple of black marks however (bearing in mind students had been told to treat this as a formal assessment and to dress appropriately):-

  1. One student turned up without any pen or paper despite the fact they had been told to take notes at the feedback session
  2. One student turned up wearing a denim jacket and a large baseball cap (same young man who had turned up in rather eccentric “interview apparel”)

Thanks to Debbie and Elaine for organising and running the day, my fellow employers for giving of their time generously, and not least the students (at least the ones who turned up) for subjecting themselves to a potentially stressful (but beneficial) experience.

Look forward to Day 2 next Monday……………bring on the students!


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