Career clinic: Tasks in interviews

A: Assessments are being used more and more frequently to determine a candidate’s suitability for a role and the information gleaned from an assessment can offer a real insight into people’s skills. Depending on the nature of the assessment tool used, the results can be used to indicate whether the applicant:

● Has the specific competencies relating to the role.

● Would be a good “fit” within the working environment.

● Can understand written information and make reasoned decisions about it.

● Has the ability to work flexibly.

● Can understand statistics and draw logical conclusions.

Assessments can also be a way of ensuring that an applicant is able to write to the level demonstrated in their CV/application and that they have the ability, wherewithal and knowledge to perform to a certain standard within a limited time period.

It is important to clarify these points in order to stress that the organisation is not putting you through your paces for no good reason. The assessment indicates their commitment to ensuring the recruitment process is worthwhile and therefore best benefiting the organisation.

An effective assessment will test a range of skills, though the vast majority of organisations tend to focus particularly on measuring practice skills. As there are such a range of different possible tools it is very difficult, without more information, to determine what can be done to prepare in advance (if anything).

If you don’t have information about the task then think of at least two specific practice-based examples which you feel demonstrate the breadth of your knowledge and full extent of your experience. Be sure to use the person specification as your basis (the assessment will almost certainly be designed to measure whether you meet one or more of the competencies outlined). Having these in mind will put you in a good position to respond in an informed fashion regardless of the type of assessment. Good luck!

Mary Jackson (left) is project manager, Reclaim Social Work, at Hackney Council’s children and young people directorate

Reader’s view:

At an interview I was given a case study and asked to write a summary of what I would do in those circumstances. I got the job and was later told that one of the things they wanted to see was how I wrote things up in terms of grammar, spelling, style, sentence construction – as people often get help with application forms. Anon

2 July question:

I currently work for a voluntary organisation. I am going to be made redundant because the organisation hasn’t managed to secure funding. I want to remain in the sector, but am not really sure what to do now and feel very confused and anxious. My employers have said that I can work part-time for a few months, but this is going to be a massive drop in pay. What should I do, particularly in this difficult climate?

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