Prepare for Assessment Centre Written Exercises
Are you going through job applications and are having to endure written exercises? Here at JobTestPrep we are here to help you perform to your best in these tasks. In the following article we are going to cover the written aspect of the job application exercises that you may face during the process.
There are three types of written exercises that we will discuss here. They are:
|Practice Written Exercises|
Simulate case study and in-tray exercises as used in assessment centres with our professional pack.
Drafting Letters and Reports
In tray Written Exercise
Written exercises are used to assess your ability to write in a concise manner. This is not the same as creative writing but rather much more factual in nature. You need to be able to write in a persuasive manner without being burdensome. These tests are administered in order to assess your ability to:
- Process copious amounts of information in a short time frame.
- Analyse the information deciding what is important and what isn’t.
- Assessing where the problems are.
- Deciding solutions for the problems whilst going through the pros and cons for each separate solution.
- Express yourself in a clear manner
Some of the biggest companies use written exercises as part of their selection process. These include the Deloitte written exercise and the PwC assessment centre written exercise. Some of these written exercises may be monitored at an assessment centre whilst others will be administered online.
There are a few different possibilities that you can receive for a written exercise and we expand on them below.
“ I had my session with Beverley today and it was very helpful. Beverley helped me to develop a methodological approach for dealing with the written exercise, and also gave me general advice that is going to be very useful in the AC. „
August 2014, E&Y Graduate Program
Drafting Letters and ReportsThis exercise is used to assess your ability to find facts somewhat hidden inside the text and present them in a clear and concise manner. You will be presented with numerous facts and ideas to be given to a person often from outside the company such as a journalist or customer.
For example, you may receive a letter of complaint regarding a certain item that was purchased from your firm. You will be given all the information regarding the actual product, the cost and quality of the item as well as what a customer should expect from it. You need to analyse the information and draft a response to the customer. You will normally be given no more than an hour to complete this exercise.
Bearing in mind that this is not an internal matter care must be taken to ensure customer satisfaction as well as ensuring that the ethos of the company is maintained from an observant eye. Hence when drafting this letter or report it is a good idea to try and incorporate the different key competencies of the company.
Here are some things to bear in mind:
- If you have to say “no” to the reader, make sure that you do it acknowledging that they are upset and that you are upset for them as well. For example, write something like: I am very sorry that I can’t do more for me and I understand your frustration but…
- Make sure that your answer is completely clear and thought out.
- You may be asked to make notes and a plan before you actually write the letter or report. This is important as it allows you to clarify your thoughts and plan of action, refer to it during the actual writing and use it as a guide for each paragraph that you write.
- If you are given a word limit, don't go over it. This really puts the assessors off.
In-tray Written ExerciseA typical in-tray exercise generally comprises two separate tasks. You will be presented with a number of different documents and your role in relation to them. For example, your role will be that of a sales manager in a fictitious company that sells a range of business machines. You have to respond to many different requests such as: a customer survey, a new business opportunity, the launch of a new product, and various requests from your staff.
You will be given approximately 80 minutes to read through the information provided and respond to the email requests that will appear in your inbox throughout the time period. For the complete rundown and practise on this part of the task see our in-tray preparation guide. The second part of the exercise, which is what we are going to concentrate on, is the written report. Following the first part of the exercise, you will be asked to make a recommendation to one of the larger items dealt with. For example you may be asked to provide a detailed analysis and recommendation for your way forward regarding a new customer who wants to revamp his entire system. You will be given a number of different options to choose from and have to decide on the best one.
You will normally have about 40 minutes to complete this part of the exercise and it is important you use your time well. The main goals of the exercise are to demonstrate that you have the ability to show a clear way of thinking as well as your decision making ability. Along with this, you will need to show that you are clearly thought out. The decision that you make isn't the only correct one as long as you validate your opinions.
Some tips on approaching this exercise are:
- Make sure you read through the information carefully as you don't want to get caught out by missing something important.
- Ensure that you have a plan for your answer. It may take a few minutes to create but is completely worthwhile as once you have a plan you can work straight off it thus enabling a clear, structured answer.
- Bear in mind who you are writing the piece for. Your manner of writing will differ if you are addressing new employees than if you would be addressing upper management.
- Once you have decided on an answer, go through the pros and cons of it in relation to the other answers.
- There is often no spelling and grammar check on the program so make sure you double check your work to ensure there are no sloppy mistakes.
- Finally, make sure that you write a comprehensive conclusion at the end of the piece. This is your signature and it is often what creates the impression of yourself in the eyes of the hirer.
Writing a Case StudyIn this exercise the information that you will need to go through is more organised than in the in-tray exercise. In fact, often the case study is already written for you. This will contain lots of information, sometimes numerical as well as textual. This is different to the report drafting exercise as the information you are presented with is in a much more systematic style than the report where you have to put together disjointed facts and make them gel. Here, everything is clearly presented, your task is to make a reasonable decision based on the facts.
For example, you may be asked to devise a resourcing plan ensuring that the needs of two new contracts are met. You are given a few different options to ensure that it gets done, from training existing staff to sub-contracting some of the work out. There will be material for each of the options and you will need to decide which of the options is best suited to the company. You will be given between 60 and 90 minutes to complete both the analysis of the text and the writing of the case study report. You will need to come up with recommendations for the way forward as well as reasonable arguments as to why you have chosen this path of action.
Generally, this exercise does not need to written up in the same detail as the other two exercises and you will be advised on its length. Ensure that you don’t go over the limit as this is a sure-fire way to displease the people who will be marking it.
In SummaryWe have seen that there are various different written exercises that you can face during your job application process. With practice, everyone can improve to a sufficient level. We hope you have enjoyed this article and good luck with your job application.
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