Preparing for the post Covid-19 job market: what you need to know about virtual assessments
In this blog, Careers Consultant, Laura Hooke, discusses the increase in virtual assessments in the current covid-19 era and explores what to expect and how to prepare for these types of application processes.
Before Covid-19, some of the big recruiters of graduates and students in the UK had started to include virtual assessments in their recruitment process for jobs. Lockdown has forced many more organisations into using online and remote assessments and this may become a permanent solution for some. The Institute of Student Employers (ISE) reports that some member companies are keen on the financial savings and find they can reach a wider range of applicants, some of whom have given positive feedback about the virtual recruitment experience.
Online tests have been used for several years, usually at the initial stage of the recruitment process, and there are no signs of them going away. Be brave and try a few of the free example tests on the Assessment Day website to get a taste of they can be like. Answers are provided at the end to help you with anything you might have got wrong.
Video interviews are popular, and, like online tests, they often pop up at an early stage of applying for a job. Take a look at Sonru and Hire Vue, two of the companies that sell video interview platforms to UK employers. As an applicant, you would receive log in details to the video interview and a short time frame e.g. a few days, in which to complete it. Interview questions appear one by one on-screen and you have to answer them to a tight time limit while being recorded on camera, you then submit when you are done. Answers need to be concise but provide enough information to help the assessor decide if you meet the criteria for the job and can progress to the next stage, which might be an invitation to a virtual assessment centre.
Many ISE members use assessment centres as part of graduate recruitment and believe they are an effective selection tool. They are often at the later stage of recruitment and usually involve activities designed to see if you have abilities needed in the job. Examples of activities include: group discussion e.g. a case study (observed by assessors), presentation (to assessors and sometimes other applicants, too), tests (again) and one or more further interviews. Fear not, it wouldn’t be all of these. Usually.
There is a great video from FDM with top tips on using your web camera effectively which may be useful for video interviews and activities in virtual assessment centres.
Some of the bigger organisations in the UK have introduced assessments that resemble games and products that use artificial intelligence (AI). For example, you apply to a company and receive a link to a virtual scenario where you make decisions for a character as they progress through typical events at work. Or, you take a test that is not the usual series of multiple-choice questions but more like a game. For a sense of what these might be like take a look at the companies that supply these products to employers, such as Pymetrics, Arctic Shores, Cappfinity and Hire Vue.
If these assessments sound like fun, that’s great. If they fill you with terror, relax, only a few of the big companies have moved to ‘gamification’ and other AI assisted selection platforms so you will still see more traditional tests and assessment centre activities being used. Also, recruiters in smaller companies who cannot afford to buy in or devote time to assessments (and have fewer applicants for their jobs) might have a simpler recruitment process. For example, submit a CV and cover letter and if you demonstrate you meet the criteria you might be invited to an interview e.g. by Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams or something similar. After wowing them at the interview, you get a job offer. Or maybe you don’t get an offer, but that’s ok because there’s a much better job out there for you.
If you need any reassurance or are keen to find out more about the new world of virtual assessment, the careers staff at Loughborough University London, are familiar with many of the different tools and approaches used by employers in recruitment and can discuss them with you. We also help our students to prepare including practice virtual assessments and practice interviews with feedback. If you are interested, you can start by emailing me, Laura Hooke, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will leave you with another challenge. Current students, graduates and staff can get access to ‘Graduates First’ where you will find treasures such as practice tests, including examples of ‘gamified’ tests and also a video interview. Have fun.
To find out more about Loughborough University London’s careers and employability activities, please visit our website.