Friday, 27 August 2010

Assessment Centres: Dont be an OMDB

At the end of an assessment centre, everyone involved at the company - interviewers, assessors, HR -  will attend a 'wash-up' discussion. This is where every graduate who attended is discussed.  The majority of the discussion will be quite factual and evidence based, but every so often, despite the evidence, an OMDB will emerge. This is when a graduate has annoyed an assessor during the day that they have decided that "Over My Dead Body" will this graduate be given a job in my company.  I'd like to say it doesn't happen often, but if I'm honest, there is usually at least one OMDB in every assessment centre. And usually the assessor will speak so strongly against that person at the wash-up, that regardless of how well they've done during the day, they will not get a job offer. The severe doubts that that one person has will cast doubts in everyone else's mind too.

The wash-up is driven by a spreadsheet where your scores across the competencies assessed that day are shown.  Most companies I have worked at will add some kind of visual aid for the audience - e.g. using a 'traffic light' system to display who did well or not.

I've put an example here to talk you through the usual scenarios we encounter so that you can understand how to avoid being an unfortunate statistic and instead. The grading is 1-5, with 5 being the best and 1 the worst. 1-2 grades are shaded red - 'not acceptable', 3 - 'did ok' - is graded orange - and 4-5 are graded green - 'did well'.

The definite hire in the list above was Donald Chen him. He got 'greens' in most categories, no reds, and everyone felt they had a good interview with. After a brief discussion about how good he was and an argument about who wanted him in their team, he was immediately categorised as an offer. 

Nicola O'Malley didn't get scores that make a huge impact. But she also didn't get any 'reds'. There is a lot of talk about her potential at the wash-up.  She is a grad that I like to classify as having the 'likeability' factor. Although she might not have packed a huge punch at interview - she didn't reach the kinds of standards that Derek did - all of the interviewers liked her a lot and felt that if they got to spend some time with her in their team, they could bring out the best in her and turn her into something special. The "likeability factor" meant that despite the lack of 4/5 scores, they felt they were willing to give her a chance and put the time into her to develop her.  

John Sheldon was the other end of the scale. Lots of people scored him very highly. But the person who did the technical interview with him classified him as an OMDB. The really did not want him in the company. And that kind of vehemence is difficult to disregard.

Gemima Holden was perhaps the most unfortunate case in the list above. She didn't get any 'reds' and didn't annoy anyone. But she got a 29 in the reasoning test. And whilst there was some talk about her potential, just like Nicola, the low score in the reasoning test overrode this and she was declined.

Put yourself in the context of the above discussion. What would your scores be? Would you do anything to cause someone to put you in their OMDB category??

The best part of my job is making phone calls to graduates at the end of an assessment centre to offer them a role in our company. I love doing it, especially on Friday evenings. It sets me (and them!) up for a great weekend. I've had multiple graduates (male and female!) cry when they hear the news, because it means so much to them. And I'd be lying if I said that once or twice it hadn't made me cry too. For some graduates it has been four years of hard slog, studying during the day and working at night to fund that study.  When I get to offer someone who has clearly faced adversity and challenge in their lives and risen above it all to get an offer from a top company, I am incredibly proud of them, and very excited to have recruited them into our company.

Don't be a statistic. Questions or suggested future topics welcomed.  How can I help unveil the secrets of graduate recruitment for you?

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