Career Skills - FAQ

What is management assessment?
A management assessment center is an event rather than a place. It usually takes place over a full day at an external location. Organizations use them when selecting graduates for management, developing supervisors into managers, and promoting line-mangers to executive positions.

What are assessment exercises?
The exact nature of your management assessment will be detailed in the agenda sent with your invitation letter. It could include management simulation exercises, a personality questionnaire, aptitude tests, and/or an interview.

What are the assessors looking for?
Assessors will have clear expectations of the type of person they envisage performing the role and will give marks accordingly. Understanding how assessors use scorecards will give you an appreciation of how your performance is recorded and how it relates to the competencies of the role.

How do I prepare for a management assessment?
Learn as much as possible about the organization by reading the annual report, financial statements, and any press releases you can find. Use this information to make sure that you are up to date and fully conversant with the jargon, processes, and issues that someone in the role would be expected to know.

What resources can I use to prepare for a management assessment?
Use the invite letter, agenda, and role specification to work out what you will be expected to do on the day. There are several eBooks available on this website that can help you with aptitude tests, personality questionnaires, interview exercises, and competency-based interviews.

How does professional development affect assessment?
Each new role you apply for should fit into a long-term career plan or offer the opportunity to acquire a specific and desirable skill. To ensure that every role you perform aids your development by enabling you to acquire the right competencies you will need a long-term career plan.

How do I prepare for an interview?
The first step in preparation is to check that the role and the organization are a good match with your own skills, character, and values. You can do this by looking at the organization's website, mission statement, and promotional literature as well as the job ad.

What makes preliminary interviews different?
These are often outsourced and done over the phone in order to keep the costs down. They are usually scheduled outside of normal working hours and tend to be quite short with an emphasis on fact checking. Your interpersonal and communication skills will also be evaluated.

Should I use a recruitment agency?
An ongoing relationship with a respected recruitment agency can be a great help in getting onto the interview shortlist. This is important because there can be so many applicants for a job that the initial screening process can be something of a lottery.

How can I use the role description?
The job ad, role description, and employee specification can all be used to list and rank the competencies required. Competencies are the aggregate behaviors an individual needs to perform a role.

How do I match competencies to the role responsibilities?
Comparing your own competencies to those required involves establishing what evidence you have for claiming a particular competency.

How does matching competencies work in practice?
This example demonstrates how a comparison of competencies can be made and how gaps within an individual's competencies can be identified. Using the descriptions of the behaviors associated with particular competencies makes it possible to determine the most effective way to fill any gaps using either work or non-work examples.

What types of interview questions are there?
The outcome of an interview is usually determined by how well you have prepared. Success relies on demonstrating that you have the Capability, Commitment, and Compatibility to perform the role effectively.

Why is interview behavior important?
Always remember that the interviewer is interested in what you can bring to the role and the organization. This means that you should only refer to things that you have done and can talk about in detail, and avoid talking about things that you were only peripherally involved with.

What are capability questions?
These are specific, job-related questions are designed to assess your suitability for the position. Select examples from your past experiences, both work-related and personal, to demonstrate the capability the employer is looking for.

What are commitment questions?
These questions explore your motivational skills and willingness to commit to your responsibilities and the organization. Employee turnover is expensive and disruptive so most organizations want you to show a degree of loyalty to them in exchange for the benefits they are offering.

What are compatibility questions?
The more senior the role, the more important it is that candidates have a close fit with the organization's ethos and mission. These questions provide you with an opportunity to gauge how comfortable you would be working within the culture of the organization.

What are questions about your self-image?
Questions about how you see yourself form part of most interviews and they are important because even if someone is capable and committed and shares the values of the organization, they may lack the 'emotional intelligence' to work well with other people.

What are questions about your application?
These questions are related to your resume or personal statement, and are often asked because of some inconsistency between them and something you have said. That is why it is important to keep copies of everything you send as part of the application process.

What questions should you ask?
These questions could make you stand out from the other candidates. The best approach is to ask just enough questions to demonstrate you are serious about wanting the position, knowledgeable about the organization and its environment, and most importantly that you are someone who can be proactive and add value.

What are competency based interviews?
Competency-based questions are behavioral questions, in which the interviewer will ask you to describe a situation which demonstrates your abilities that will be integral to the role you're applying for. Organizations use a competency framework that reflects the competencies and associated behaviors that are required at each level of management.

What are competency-based questions?
Competency-based questions begin with something like 'Tell me about a time when…,' or 'Describe a situation where you had to …' Your answer must be supported by your resume and work experience, so using 'off-the-shelf' answers is not an option. You can use either the STAR or SOARA method to pre-plan answers to competency-based questions, ensuring that you give the best possible example a particular behavior.

What is the STAR Method?
The STAR method is a simple four-stage process that is ideal for those just starting out in a career or those who are switching careers. It enables an individual to quickly identify situations or events that allow them to demonstrate the required competencies. The technique, describes: the Situation, the Task required as a result, the Action taken, and the Result of that action. This will help you to formulate a narrative that works well as an answer to a competency-based question.

What is the SOARA Method?
This method is slightly more involved than the STAR method and some people may prefer using it, particularly if they have a lot of management experience from which to draw examples. SOARA stands for: Situation, Objective, Action, Results, and Aftermath. The process is similar to that of the STAR method explained earlier in that it is time consuming and takes a lot of work. Both methods provide you with the best examples of competency-specific behaviors that you can use in all of your interviews.

What are management interview exercises?
Interview exercises allow potential employers to see how you behave when performing some of the tasks required by the role. Your success will depend on your ability to display behaviors that reflect the competencies required by the organization. If the job represents a promotion then you may need to show competencies at the 'next level up' from your current level.

What are management in-tray exercises?
In this exercise you will be asked to assume a particular role as an employee of a fictitious organization and to work through a pile of correspondence in your in-tray. The in-tray exercise items will be specifically designed to measure job skills such as: ability to organize and prioritize work; analytical skills; communication with team members and customers; written communication skills; and delegation.

What are management role play exercises?
This exercise is popular because it gives a real insight into how an individual will interact with others in situations they have little direct control over. It is an excellent way for a potential employer to see if you possess the attitudes and behaviors they want in their organization.

What are management group exercises?
This exercise is most popular when the interview process involves several candidates being present for a whole day, as this offers sufficient time and numbers to make this type of exercise possible. Group exercises provide the perfect opportunity to assess how you interact with others, your natural role in a group, and your flexibility when working in a team.

What are management presentation exercises?
Whatever type of presentation you are faced with you need to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role. You can achieve this by being enthusiastic in your delivery and showing that that you really want to be there and that you believe what you have to say is important.

What are media interview exercises?
This exercise is really a specialized role play that assesses how well you deal with and react to being interviewed by a journalist. By reading annual reports and copies of press releases you can gain an appreciation of an organization's stance when communicating with the press. Part of your preparation needs to take into account how someone in your role would be called upon to express the 'corporate' opinion.

What are management personality tests?
Some organizations use personality tests as part of the job selection process. These tests attempt to measure various aspects of your personality in a quantitative way. The organization can then use this data in conjunction with the interview to make a (hopefully) better decision about your suitability for the job on offer. There is some debate as to whether or not it is possible to prepare yourself for personality tests, but understanding how personality tests are supposed to work can help you to make your own decision about this.

What are the 'Big 5' aspects of personality?
The five factors that make up an individual's personality are extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience. These traits exist on a continuum and everyone possesses all five to some degree. Each trait is made up of a number of facets.

What are the most popular personality questionnaires?
Personality questionnaires are usually used in conjunction with aptitude tests, interviews, and exercises to assess your ability to perform the role. The most common forms of personality questionnaires used in recruitment are: MBTI indicator, MMPI-2-RF, SHL OPQ32r, and the D.I.S.C. behavioral model.

What are function and validity scales?
Most personality questionnaires present you with between 50-200 questions and ask you to choose from two, five, or seven answers. The fact that many of the questions are open to wide interpretation is a fundamental problem with these tests.

What is a work personality?
Most people modify their day-to-day behavior to suit the role or culture they are working in. This involves stepping outside of their natural behavioral preferences in order to get the job done.

What qualities are employers looking for?
There are certain personality traits that every employer sees as desirable, including: honesty, integrity, self-motivation, and self-discipline. Extraversion is also seen as a desirable quality even if the role does not obviously demand it. Conversely, there are certain personality traits that every employer sees as undesirable, including: deceitfulness, inability to control anger, and inability to handle stress.

What are management aptitude tests?
Organizations use various tests and exercises as part of the management selection process. Aptitude tests are used to test your logical reasoning and thinking abilities, and usually contain between 30-50 multiple-choice questions that are strictly timed.

What are verbal aptitude tests?
Verbal ability questions involve spelling, grammar, sentence completion, analogies, and comprehension. Management-level tests tend to focus on higher-level skills like critical reasoning and analogies. If you are expecting a test of this type then it is a good idea to download some free practice tests and work through them systematically.

What are numerical aptitude tests?
Management-level numerical tests usually focus on higher-level skills like data interpretation and mathematical relationships. If you feel as though your basic math skills are rusty then spend some time going over the basics of fractions, percentages, etc.

What are abstract reasoning tests?
Abstract reasoning tests assess how well you can establish logical relationships. They are well suited to management selection because management roles often involve problem solving at a conceptual level. Another reason for their popularity is that they do not discriminate against candidates who do not have English as their first language.

What are spatial ability tests?
Spatial ability questions evaluate how well you can visually manipulate and assemble two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes. They are usually restricted to scientific or engineering management selection.

How are management aptitude tests scored?
Whichever type of test you are given, the questions are almost always presented in multiple-choice format and have definite correct and incorrect answers. As you proceed through the test, the questions may become more difficult and you will usually find that there are more questions than you can comfortably complete in the time allowed. Very few people manage to finish these tests and the object is simply to give as many correct answers as you can.

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